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WOMAD 2021: the World’s Music Festival

July 22 - July 25

£185 – £240
Womad festival

Travel Begins at 40 gives the run down on this year’s WOMAD music festival, which is staying true to its global roots.

Every summer in late July musicians, poets, actors, artists, thinkers and even cooks from all over the globe head for the lush acres of Charlton Park Wiltshire to perform at WOMAD, the “world of music, arts and dance”.

WOMAD 2021 Highlights

The 2021 line-up is yet to be confimed, but when it is we shall have it here. There is perhaps no other UK music festival that offers such a variety of culture over a single weekend with performers from around the globe from Uganda to Japan and Cuba to Taiwan.

The Flaming Lips © George Salisbury David Hughes

From Mali Fatoumata Diawara will start the festival with her powerful songs on Thursday night. Angelique Kidjo performs Talking Heads’ Remain In Light, while the award-winning mistress of words Kate Tempest will make her debut at WOMAD creatively analysing urban life in the 21st century.

Other main acts include psychedelic band The Flaming Lips, Queen of Portuguese fado, Mariza, RAM from Haiti, Les Amazones d’Afrique, Fantastic Negrito, The Selecter, Elaha Soroor and Kefaya, A Certain Ratio, SEED Ensemble, Mokoomba, and Ásegeir.

Music is not all there is to enjoy at WOMAD, with debates, author talks and discussions at the World of Words. Alternativelty simply chill out at the World of Wellbeing.

Kate Tempest © Julian Board Sam Scott
Kate Tempest © Julian Board Sam Scott

Other confirmed acts include: Ak Dan Gwang Chil (South Korea), Alla Leake Percussion (Gambia), The Alostmen (Ghana), B.Dance (Taiwan), Bab l’Bluz (France/Morocco), Barmer Boys (India), Cimafunk (Cuba), Dublin Calling All-Star Band (Ireland/UK), Dizraeli (UK), Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis (Israel), fra fra (Ghana), Gypsy Hill (UK), Johanna Juhola Reaktori (Finland), Fajardo (Spain), Joseph Tawadros (Australia), King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys (UK), Lazy Habits (UK), The Mauskovic Dance Band (Netherlands), Mesadorm (UK), Minyo Crusaders (Japan), Nihiloxica (Uganda), Sahba Motallebi (Iran), Son Rompe Pera (Mexico), Sona Jobarteh (Gambia), Too Many T’s (UK), Vassvik (Norway) and Wovoka Gentle (UK).

WOMAD for Kids

World of Children at WOMAD Lisa Whiting
World of Children at WOMAD, photo by Lisa Whiting

For children and indeed everyone, there are games, workshops, music sessions and cookery classes, and everything can be seen on the website. This year there will be a World of Physics with workshops, and even a World of Children.

Tasting the World

The Taste The World Stage highlight’s last year included, BaBa Zula offering Turkish dumplings and Anandi Bhattacharaya dishing up Bengali curry. There are numerous food stands all over the site.

History of WOMAD
WOMAD festival by Guy Peterson
WOMAD festival by Guy Peterson

The very first WOMAD, founded by Genesis singer Peter Gabriel and held in 1982 in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, set the blueprint for future festivals. The event saw a typical mix of pop and what came to be known as “world music”, with performances from Echo and The Bunnymen, Simple Minds, Suns of Arqua, Drummers of Burundi, jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, The Chieftans, Imrat Khan and Gabriel himself. The ethos was “embracing but non-definitive and enthusiastic about a world with no boundaries.”

Some of the star acts to have played WOMAD include Ravi Shankar, Youssou N’Dour, Nina Simone, Joan Armatrading, Manu Dibango, Ernest Ranglin, Toots and the Maytals, David Byrne, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Asian Dub Foundation, Baaba Maal, Cachaito Lopez, Adrian Sherwood and Suzanne Vega.

And such is the success of WOMAD that the festival has travelled to more than 30 countries, and is entered in the 2001 Guinness Book of Records as the “biggest international music festival”. At the 2011 event, another world record was won when 2,227 people played air guitar to Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze, beating the previous number of 1,883.

Les Amazones d'Afrique by Chaima Daassiss
Les Amazones d’Afrique © Chaima Daassiss
WOMAD 2021 Lineup

Read the full WOMAD lineup here.

When is WOMAD 2021?

22-25 July, 2021

WOMAD tickets

Purchase your tickets here. Adult three-day tickets start at £185. Children aged 13 and under can enter for free with a ticket.

Where is WOMAD 2021?

WOMAD is held at Charlton Park Wiltshire.

WOMAD 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19. The following is the organiser’s policy on refunds. “Ticket holders for WOMAD 2020 can credit this year’s ticket for WOMAD 2021 or are entitled to a full refund.The same applies to tickets being bought in instalments. These can be either paused and payments picked up again next year for WOMAD 2021 or claim a refund of the face value of the ticket. Festival-goers will be kept as up to date as possible via and  social media.”

More information about WOMAD

Click here.

Main image : Mokoomba – © Eric van Niuewland – Nomfusi Gotyana TV. Words by Robert Spelman, additional info from Mark Bibby Jackson.



July 22
July 25
£185 – £240
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Charlton Park
Malmesbury,WiltshireSN16 9DG.United Kingdom+ Google Map