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WOMAD: A sweet madness hit the Wiltshire countryside between 24th–27th July this year... Inspired Times' editor, Sharon Henshall, and her two nieces, joined in the fabulous celebrations of world music and dance.item3


Djembe drums, bhangra beats, funky fusions, dubstep djs and backdrops of 'booty swaying' jazzy bands... and that's just a dip in the 'music' ocean which cascaded out of WOMAD 2014. I think we can safely say, it rocked!

Sold out for the first time ever, 40,000 fun-loving beings item9congregated together over the final weekend of July for a four-day global extravaganza, all in pretty much non-stop sunshine (bar a short outburst of thunderous rain which took everyone by surprise). One week on, visual memories still remain strong of the swirling crowds, face-painted kids, barefoot boogying, sumptuous sunsets and the smattering of love which created magical vibes. Headliners included Fat Freddy's Drop, Sinead O'Connor, Nitan Sawhney, Youssou N'Dour, Manu Dibango and Les Ambassadeurs – from far and wide music lovers flocked in, eager to bask in this eclectic array of musical talent.

I was accompanied again by my two nieces (aged 10 & 12) – there would be family war if they hadn't been included for a second year running! And I'm so glad they came. WOMAD is an incredible festival for children and my experience was yet again enriched by pompom making, t-shirt painting and various circus frolics amid the Kids Arena. Creative workshops and funCharliesAngels activities bubbled over in the run up to Sunday's buoyant procession through the fields. Melarky Arts hosted one of the girls' favourite workshops, where they had the kids making colourful stills of a lion for a short animation. Later that night we headed into the woods to film some light paintings which would be transformed into the running lion's backdrop. Swirling and whirling within the pitch black of night, painting streaks of colour with lightsabers onto an awaiting computer screen. You can see the fabulous end result here. At the end of the exercise the team created the fabuous 'Charlies Angels' style picture seen here. Work it ladieees!

Last year we'd had our fingers burnt on one of the rides at the vintage fairground – the large swinging boat had looked quite tame until gripped in its tempestuous motion. So, opting for a spin on the Ferris Wheel this year was a much more civilised item10affair. The girls also jumped aboard the dodgem cars for some whiplash-style bumps and ended our fairground fun on the whirling swing carousel. Illuminating the night sky, these old fashioned rides always left us wandering away in a dizzy spell, with laughter ringing in our ears.

Glamping is all the rage and for those who spawn old-fashion tarpaulin, luxury Airstreams, boutique camping, tipis, yurts and Podpads were all available as well as La-Di-Da Loos (for posh poos, as some may say). Camping with my nieces brought us much closer, quite literally... my three-man tent made for a very snug home! item11A cacophony of festie sounds lulled us to sleep each night as our heads hit the pillow - the key to a good night's sleep is to keep going until you drop (aided by a cheeky cider or two if you are of the adult variety!). We certainly picked a convenient spot to pitch our tent - our neighbours were of the 'non-rowdy' type, the water tap was just a few hops over guy-ropes, and the toilets were a short meander away. Tasty one-pot wonders were mustered up on my vintage camping stove and we even hosted a dinner party for four when a friend joined us for veggie bangers and mash. Oh, the simple pleasures in life!

On the final day we found time to nip backstage to where Radio item13WOMAD had bands popping by to play some tunes and have a chat. Nuru Kane & The BFG were first up. Fronted by Nuru Kane, a Senegalese singer/item14songwriter, their African sound is infused with fabulous Moroccan grooves. One band member flicked and cajoled mesmerising sounds from his calabash whilst his young daughter clambered onto his lap to join in. Next, USA's Magnolia Sisters bewitched us with their soulful Cajun music, which they told us was infused within Louisiana's Cajun lifestyles, along with food and folkways.

Wandering through the WOMAD fields, I felt thankful for item15so many things. Celebrating diversity unites people from across the globe, shining a light on a multitude of unique talent. If I was to hedge a bet on my niece's favourite band during the fest, I'd take a punt on The Dhol Foundation who played late on Saturday night at Molly's Bar. Stumbling across this bhangra band when heading back to camp - by this point we were a sturdier group of seven - not one of us could refrain from joining in on some Bollywood moves as they expertly rallied the crowd into a 'lightbulb twisting' frenzy. Our bedtime extended well beyond that anticipated – far too much fun was being had by all.

So, a HUGE thank you to all involved, as well as to mother nature for her splendid display of sunshine. I must admit I'd pondered whether we could trump last year's fun.... but yes, it honestly exceeded all expectations and will be added to our memory bank of fabulous family festivals! Oooh WOMAD, can we do it all over again... pleeease?


uploaded 06/08/14

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