The WOMAD Story

WOMAD – World of Music, Arts and Dance – is one of the longest-running, best culturally established festivals on the planet. The festival began in the UK back in 1982, intending to celebrate diverse cultures and their artistic offerings from around the globe.

Since that first event, more than 160 WOMAD festivals have been held in 27 countries and islands all over the world, including everywhere from Abu Dhabi to the US, Australia to Sardinia, Canada to South Africa – and, of course, New Zealand.

Always family-oriented, WOMAD festivals are the ultimate culmination of sounds, scenery, and good vibes. Through festivals, community events, and educational projects, we aim to excite, delight, and open your mind to the worth and potential of a multicultural society.

“WOMAD has offered many audiences an insight into cultures other than their own through the enjoyment of music – drawing people and artists together, proving, as well as anything, the stupidity of racism,” says Peter Gabriel, co-founder of WOMAD.

New Zealand 2023 marked the 20th year since WOMAD was first held at the picture-perfect Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park in New Plymouth, Taranaki.

With support from WOMAD UK, along with councils, companies, iwi, organisations and grant makers, WOMAD NZ opened in Taranaki for the first time in 2003. It began as a biennial event and became annual from 2007.

Since that first festival, WOMAD NZ has continued to embrace a world of cultural diversity through vibrant performances and appearances on the eight stages dotted throughout the leafy parkland.

“This must be one of the most beautiful venues in the world,” says WOMAD co-founder Thomas Brooman.

For three days, some of the world’s best musicians, artists, dancers, storytellers and speakers come to Taranaki, including a fine line-up from Aotearoa.

Beneath fluttering flags, you can soak in multi-cultural performances, dance wildly before a stage or sit quietly beneath a tree. For a feast of ethnic food visit the Global Village, where you will also find a variety of shops and artisans.

Along with a kaleidoscope of visiting artists, WOMAD NZ continues to evolve. There are workshops, live cooking demonstrations, inspiring talks from change makers, scientists and writers, plus a poetry slam. For families, there is Kidzone, a magical space of storytelling, imagination and oodles of fun.

At WOMAD NZ there is something for everyone. Help us celebrate 21 years since this multi-cultural festival first brought this place of great beauty alive with the world of music, arts and dance.