Why we love WOMAD

Each year, WOMADelaide's organisers bring together some truly fantastic musicians. The acts that grace WOMAD's seven stages always fiercely embody the energy of the festival, and there have certainly been some fantastic acts across this year’s schedule. (We covered as many as we could!)

But the joy of WOMAD is more than the sum of its musical parts. It’s in the people, artists, stalls, food, and conversations brought forth by the global festival’s good vibes.

After all, WOMAD is fundamentally different to other festivals. Music festivals tend to focus intently on a specific audience, have pretty standard offerings across the board, and can seem unwelcome or even unsafe for children to roam.

Instead, WOMAD cultivates an inclusive experience. The organisers bring together a wide range of performers, speakers, artists, merchants, activists and music-lovers, to craft an experience where we all feel completely at home – where we can embrace, and even unleash, our inner hippy (it's cool to care, you guys).

WOMAD presents a diverse range of indulgent cuisine, from Yemen to Mexico, and from India to Kangaroo Island. It has a dedicated Kidzone, with its own volunteers and mini events program. This year it even brought all ages together for some irreverent fun, with a Stonehenge replica bouncy castle.

No doubt WOMAD draws the occasional cynical hippie shopaholic, taking a one-weekend dip into millennia-old cultures and attempting to buy spiritual fulfilment in the form of as many hand drums, dreamcatchers, and alpaca wool accoutrements as they can fit in the back of their SUV. But for every such yuppie, there’s a hundred kids – young and old – eager to dance, eat, experience and learn.

From Planet Talks to solar-powered chargers to biodegradable waste, WOMADelaide is a reflective festival, a festival with a conscience. Like the music itself, all these elements – food, art, culture, people, place – are pretty inextricable from the groovy WOMAD atmosphere.

With that in mind, here are our Top 7 Favourite Things about WOMADelaide (because we just couldn't stop at five):

SEVEN. Random acts of art. We were well looked after on this front in 2016 – from the roaming stilted Pan to the tumbling performance art in the Wheel House, from make-your-own flower crown to live portraits by Fruzsi Kenez. The absolute highlight for us was Sacrilege – we bounced with childlike glee around Stonehenge to the sounds of the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun", til we could jump no more.

SIX. 'WOMAD clothes'. Where else can we don all those clothes we bought overseas and wouldn't be caught dead in during normal life? It's so much more than this though – it's a symbol of how liberated we feel when we come to WOMADelaide. We paint our faces, wear whatever the hell we want, and dance like there's no tomorrow. And damn it feels good. If these ladies don't convince you, I don't know what will. Stunning.

FIVE. People watching. Linked to number six, people watching is so good at WOMAD because everyone is unleashing their best self. There's just so much joy going around, and it's catching. This little guy's antics entertained a crowd for some time.

FOUR. Festival food. At which other festival is the choice and quality this good? Our stand-out favourite in 2016 was Ya Man, for those spicy vego wraps and their banana and coconut dessert equivalent. I'll be craving those til next year.

THREE. Hanging out at base camp. You can wander, get drinks, have a boogie, and go to the stage at the other end of Botanic Park happy in the knowledge that you'll find your people and your stuff when you finally return to base camp. And when you're there, it's the perfect place for a chat, some snacks, a nap, or hey, maybe some casual circus tricks.

TWO. Being in Botanic Park. It's just so beautiful, isn't it?

ONE. Of course... the music. Sure, it's great to hear an old favourite like The Cat Empire or Ladysmith Black Mambazo. But the best part is discovering a new band that you would never have heard of otherwise. This year, we fell in love with Songhoy Blues, The Jerry Cans, Ibeyi and Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro, and especially with the exquisite Orange Blossom.

That's all from us for this year folks. We look forward to bringing you all the highlights again in 2017. Until then, relive this incredible sunset, which graced Monday evening to close off WOMADelaide 2016 in beautiful style.

Check out the rest of our WOMAD content here – groovily co-written by Jen St Jack and Justin McArthur, with rad images by Jen St Jack.