About Us

WOMAD - World of Music, Arts and Dance the internationally established Festival, which brings together artists from all over the globe. The central aim of the WOMAD festival is to celebrate the world's many forms of music, arts and dance.

As an organisation, WOMAD now works in many different ways, but our aims are always the same - at festivals, performance events, through recorded releases and through educational projects, we aim to excite, to inform, and to create awareness of the worth and potential of a multicultural society.

Peter Gabriel was one of WOMAD's co-founders:

"Pure enthusiasm for music from around the world led us to the idea of WOMAD in 1980 and thus to the first WOMAD festival in 1982. The festivals have always been wonderful and unique occasions and have succeeded in introducing an international audience to many talented artists."
"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."
- Peter Gabriel

The WOMAD Festivals

WOMAD Festivals are family-oriented, diverse and active musical events; sometimes offering as many as seven stages within the festival site.

There are also participatory workshops, where the audience has a chance to meet and learn about the visiting artists and their music. Special events for children, including organised workshops and activities, create an experience both educational and entertaining.

The festival location in each country is as important to its atmosphere as the music and dance that it presents. We work with many different visual artists to create distinctive decorated spaces at each festival site.

A global village of shops is also important to the WOMAD experience; a worldwide range of international arts, crafts and cuisine stalls, which are an essential part of WOMAD's unique atmosphere.

Since the first festival in the UK in 1982, WOMAD has held more than 160 festivals, creating events in twenty-seven countries and islands all over the world, including: Abu Dhabi, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Sardinia, Sicily, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, UK, and the United States of America.

We have presented more than one thousand artists at our festivals, bringing the expression of more than 100 different countries to a live audience of over one million people.

A Few Facts on WOMAD's History

  • The first ever WOMAD festival was in Shepton Mallet, UK in 1982, artists performing included; Peter Gabriel, Don Cherry, The Beat, The Drummers of Burundi, Echo & The Bunnymen, Imrat Khan, Prince Nico M' barga, Simple Minds and Ekome amongst others.
  • WOMAD is in the 2001 'Guinness Book of Records' as "biggest International Music Festival".
  • Audience size has varied from 98,000 at WOMAD in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park (this was the highest attended ticketed outdoor event in the world in 1993) to much smaller intimate audiences of a few hundred at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, for example.
  • With a reputation for introducing often unknown artists to a wider audience, WOMAD presented Neneh Cherry, Youssou N'Dour, Afro-Celt Sound System, The House Martins, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Asian Dub Foundation "before they were famous"!
  • Peter Gabriel toured with WOMAD across the USA (1993 & 1994) and has performed at WOMAD festivals in Shepton Mallett (1982), Carlyon Bay (1988); Bath (1993); Turkey (1993) and Seattle (2001).
  • Over the past three decades the WOMAD production team have put up over 3450 marquees, 60km of fencing and 7590 of WOMAD's signature flags.
  • WOMAD has staged some unusual one-offs, including 1996's 'Great Musical Rail Journey of Australia' that crossed the Nullarbor desert from Perth to Adelaide, stopping off for a WOMAD performance in the outback of Pimba.
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