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Mad about WOMAD: tips from a devotee

Mar 06, 2015

WOMADelaide – that glorious long weekend when the world of music and dance lands in Botanic Park and we all get to embrace our inner earth child.

This is the time of year when office clobber is replaced by favourite festival clothes that haven’t seen the light of day since last March. We’re talking fisherman pants, maybe a bit of tie-dye and that crazy straw hat you bought two WOMADs ago and wouldn’t be seen dead in anywhere else.

You know who you are. You’re loving yourself sick – and why the hell not?

WOMADelaide offers anyone with an open mind the chance to hear music that transcends everyday experience. Music that perhaps you never thought you would enjoy or had never even heard of before will be on high rotation on your iPod for the rest of the year.

If you can get there early tonight (Friday), do so. Take the opportunity to enjoy your first beer of the festival when the park is quiet. Breathe in the anticipation of all you will experience over the coming days.

Kick off your shoes. Feel the grass between your toes. You want to go home with satisfyingly tired and dusty feet.

To get the most from your experience, you need a survival kit. There’s loads to see, taste and hear, and you will be walking …a lot. Pack a hat, sunscreen (available on-site if you forget), possibly a jacket for the evening, and a refillable water bottle to take advantage of the free water fountains around the park (BPA-free water bottles are, of course, de rigueur; last week’s empty Mount Franklin, not so much.)

Take a picnic blanket and stake your claim to a bit of grass at the various stages. The first rule of WOMAD? Don’t move someone else’s picnic blanket. And don’t be one of these people with the annoying shorty-short camp chairs (unless you have a back issue).

True WOMADelaide fans will already have made a shortlist of must-see acts and YouTubed those they don’t know. Youssou N’Dour, Mista Savona, Bombino, Tjintu Desert Band, Toumani and Sidiki Diabate, Abdullah Ibrahim and Soil and “Pimp” Sessions are just some who’ve been given the highlighter treatment on my printed program. It’s also a good idea to download the WOMAD app for up-to-the-minute updates.

One of the nicest things to do is to get into the park early on the Saturday morning to listen to ABC Radio National’s The Music Show live from 9.30am at Speakers’ Corner (entry at the Frome Road gate). It’s an opportunity to hear some of the artists perform and also talk about their homeland, instruments and music heritage in a more intimate and candid way, with this year’s program to feature The Malawi Mouse Boys, Jambinai, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino and Abdullah Ibrahim.

There is, of course, a lot more to the annual world music festival than music.

There is also the wonderful Global Village, where dozens of stalls provide food from every corner of the planet. And for the true WOMADelaide tragic, there is one obsession; the thing that is dreamt about and coveted all year. Byron Bay Organic Doughnuts. Avoid the queues and get one early in the day. Or if you are a canny sugar junky, buy two, so you have a spare for that late afternoon energy boost.

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If the sugar buzz wears off, go find “Hammocktime” – a new addition to the park where you can relax in a hammock amid the pines for a 10-minute guided meditation. Just don’t get so zen you forget where you left that picnic rug.

Kylie Goldsack has missed just a couple of WOMADelaide music festivals since the event began in 1992. She had a doctor’s certificate.

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