Brooklands Park and the Bowl of Brooklands is a beautiful place throughout the year, but in March, it transforms into a festival of sight, sound, and smell that attracts thousands of people. This year was no exception.
Now in its 14th year, WOMAD continues to delight, inspire, and educate in a way that has become almost an essential rite of passage for locals and visitors alike.
This year, it was a special event for me—my all-time favourite Kiwi band Dragon was playing. Not even a six-hour return drive from a photoshoot in Ngaruawahia could keep me away.
I arrived back in New Plymouth with five minutes to spare before Mark Williams and Dragon took the stage.
Instantly, I was transported back to a less hectic time—before the kids, the mortgage, and career stuff. Young Years and the drum solo towards the end of the performance were the two highlights, making the hectic drive home well worth it.
Other performances from international guests—and there were many—were just as good. Among my personal favourites were Daymé Arocena from Cuba, the Rahim AlHaj Trio from Iraq, Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko from Senegal/Canada, and the haunting melodies of Ghada Shbeir from Lebanon.
WOMAD is a family-friendly event with many attractions catering to the younger ones. There were parades with costumed ‘theme park’ characters, face painting, and diversions galore that included
‘A Curious Game’ (from Australia), where characters from an oversized chessboard came to life to interact with the audience, and kids’ favourite, the zebras. The three-dimensional WOMAD letters were like magnets, attracting children to strike all manner of poses.
And then there was the food at The Global Village. With stalls serving food from around the globe, it’s impossible to walk past without succumbing to temptation and resting up at the tables under the trees.
New this year at WOMAD
New to WOMAD this year was the Garden of Brews—a craft beer and wine tasting venue—where, I must confess, I did linger a little too long. Also revamped was Te Paepae, with the 360-degree virtual Powhiri being my favourite.
Three days doesn’t seem to be enough time to experience everything. The Giant Crosswords, the CD Wall, Tame ITI at World of Words, and Poetry Slam were sadly no-shows from me, but hopefully, they may be there next year.
The most magical time to be at WOMAD is from sunset to dusk when the park is bathed in a warm golden light and the lights come on, turning the whole event into a musical theme park.
A blanket spread on the ground, a plate of delicious homeland food, and craft beer in hand as you listen to one of the international acts on a still, balmy Taranaki evening—that’s what WOMAD is all about.
- WOMAD is an annual event held in late March
- There is elevated seating for seniors 65+ and wheelchair platforms at the three main stages
- Camping and motorhome parking is available at the Pukekura Raceway
For more details about the event, visit womad.co.nz.