Founded by musician Peter Gabriel in 1982, WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) is well-known around the globe for bringing together festival-goers in a fusion of cultural, environmental and artistic harmony. “The festivals have always been wonderful and unique occasions and have succeeded in introducing an international audience to many talented artists,” Peter says. “Equally important, the festivals have also allowed many different audiences to gain an insight into cultures other than their own through the enjoyment of music. Music is a universal language, it draws people together and proves, as well as anything, the stupidity of racism.” This year’s Spanish edition of WOMAD is about to kick-off in Caceres, with WOMAD UK happening later this year. If you follow Peppermint on Instagram you may have seen that we were lucky enough to attend the Australian installment of this global festival in sunny Adelaide – WOMADelaide.
Held in the beautiful inner-city Botanical Gardens, the footprint of the festival was foremost on the minds of organisers and punters alike, with many policies put in place to reduce the impact of the four day event. All cups, plates, crockery, serviettes and any items sold in packaging at WOMADelaide were fully biodegradable, and all waste created treated for composting afterwards. Recycling and waste management were also on the agenda, with multiple specialty bins placed around the festival for recycling and biodegradable food waste. WOMADelaide also joined forces with Australia’s largest environmental organisation, Greening Australia to offset carbon emissions through local biodiverse tree plantings. Energy on site was 100% GreenPower certified, there were water-saving technologies in the men’s toilets (so I heard…) and toilet paper was 100% recycled. Dotted around the site were free drinking water stations for punters to refill their drink bottles – something other festivals could sit up and take note from!
And the festival itself? I would happily say that all walks of life were catered for, from picnicking grandparents to excitable teenagers, and especially so this eco-loving gal and her enthusiastic six year old. Market precincts with stalls brimming with handmade, recycled and fair trade goods (many of which made their way home with me), organic food offerings and a healing spot with relaxing massages and natural therapies. And of course the entertainment – dance and instrument workshops, talks from many great environmentalists and activists (including Costa Geordiadis, Ronni Kahn and Simon Bryant talking about food waste and sustainable gardening solutions). A bumper program of world musicians were the drawcard of this unique event – a true fusion of international traditional and contemporary music from far reaching corners of the globe: Algeria, Mali, Sweden, Peru, Serbia and Greece to name just a few. Highlights for me – Soweto Gospel Choir, The Tallest Man On Earth, Antibalas and Salif Keita.
That was when I was allowed to leave the Kidzone. Needless to say the main part of our experience revolved around the Kidzone – it was a hard task extracting said six year old from the area set up to entertain the smallest festival-goers. WOMADelaide certainly does ‘family’ well – there was a high number of kids at the event, and the program for the littlies didn’t disappoint, including bouncy castles, a South Australia Museum tent with fossil explorations, art workshops, and ‘Tangle’ – an interactive experience where the kids weave a giant tangled mess of elastics on a purpose-built frame and proceed to climb and explore and disappear from parent’s sight (ahem). But the highlight according to my son was Boxwars where children were shown each day how to construct and decorate amour, hats, swords and shields from recycled cardboard – resulting in many a pint-sized battle carried out across the festival site by red-faced, sweaty, miniature knights in the sweltering 38 degree heat. The interesting part was fitting this unyielding costume into my carry-on luggage…