WOMAD (World of Music, Arts, and Dance), near striking Mt Taranaki, offers an exciting three days of multicultural celebrations through the universal language of performing arts. WOMAD is the perfect antidote to a world filled with reports of disharmony and rage. In a feat Phileas Fogg would be envious of, WOMAD attendees get the opportunity to musically visit every corner of the world in just 52 hours, with over 30 performers across five stages.
Just 20-minutes on foot from New Plymouth’s city centre, the Bowl of Brooklands offers an attractive 55-acre setting with lake, trees and a natural ampitheatre that ensures quality sound. WOMAD’s bohemian vibe, delectable eats, and inclusive spaces draw over 17,000 attendees. While big names like Sinead O’Connor, De La Soul, and Mt Eden pull a crowd; it’s the more unusual acts from far-flung destinations that pull you away from the musical itinerary you so carefully pre-planned.
ALL ABOUT IT
WOMAD has been kicking around New Zealand since 2003. Tickets go on sale in July with payment plan options if needed, and you can now collect your wristband ahead of opening day. If you’re feeling flush, the VIP lounge has exclusive food, bar, and toilets, the latter being ultra handy, as the GA loo lines are typically the main complaint of the weekend. WOMAD kicks off from 4:30pm on Friday, through to 11:30pm on Sunday.
WOMAD is perfect for a picnic; bring food and non-alcoholic beverages to the venue. Leave the booze, cigarettes, and glass at home but do bring an empty water bottle for the free water stations. Cash is king, though an ATM is available and bars take EFTPOS. Camp chairs are permitted but contentious – they must sit 10cm or lower from the ground and this is enforced. You can charge your phone in the stadium foyer; first come, first served.
For mouthwatering meals, arts and crafts, explore the 80 stalls within the Global Village. Don’t miss out on Dutch pancakes, Hungarian puffs or a visit to the Chai Wallah. If you’re a true foodie, make time to attend one of the cooking sessions. The festival is zero-waste focused - do your bit by disposing of rubbish carefully or pack it up to take back home with you. Also make time for the Living Library, artist workshops, the wellness area and Te Paepae – promoting traditional Maori activities like the haka, poi, and printmaking.
WOMAD is NZ’s best festival for a multi-generational celebration. The dedicated area with elevated senior citizens platform is well loved, and the free Kidzone area keeps young ones entertained with arts, crafts and performers. Lost and found has its own area for wayward munchkins but avoid that by placing a wristband with your details on your child so you can be reunited swiftly.
ALL SNOOZED OUT
Camping at WOMAD is in an intimate setting, as only 2,500 campers stay in the grounds. Choose from standard camping, vehicle, or Wildernest glamping, which includes mattress and pampering area. There are no reserved sites so if you want to camp with your crew, arrive together. The campsite opens 9am Friday and you’ll have overstayed your welcome if you’re still there Monday 10am.
If the fickle NZ elements mean you’d prefer a solid roof over your head, then book your hotel or motel early as 70% of attendees come from out of town.
Traffic and entry lines back up quickly so arrive early to avoid big queues. If you’re aiming to park, call upon the parking fairy to assist, as it’s tough. Whilst there are four drop zones, taxis can only use the Brooklands Park Drive and Brookland Road entrances, so take note to avoid confusion.
Taranaki was crowned the second best destination in the world in 2017, and this is the perfect opportunity to find out why. Explore New Plymouth and surrounds, including cultural sites like Puke Ariki Museum, the Len Lye Centre and Govett Brewster Art Gallery. Take Surf Highway 45 to catch some breaks at Opanake Beach or take the long route to WOMAD via the Forgotten Highway if you have the time.