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Atmosphere at Charlton Park 'better than Glastonbury'
Festivities got well under way on Saturday as festival goers of all ages danced side-by-side for WOMAD’s 30th anniversary celebrations.
Young and old from up and down the country have arrived at Charlton Park to enjoy the eclectic global offerings that the festival is renowned to offer.
The sunshine also made an appearance for much of Saturday, ensuring many smiling faces at the World of Music, Arts and Dance festival.
Midwife Karen Howdle, 45, her husband James, 37, and daughter Keira, 3, were enjoying some of the attractions for the younger generations in the children’s area.
This includes a music maze, drumming workshops, arts and crafts, a water and sand zone, puppet shows and face painting.
Mrs Howdle said: “WOMAD has got a fantastic children’s area. It’s one of the best music areas for children we have even seen at a festival.
“We bought tickets on the day because we saw it was going to be sunny and so we thought we have got to be here. “It’s a bit expensive last minute but there you go; it’s worth it.
“We are probably most looking forwards to seeing the Correspondents and Balkan Beat Box. It’s just our type of music."
James Gallagher, a wine whole seller from London, is camping with family and friends, including grandchildren Katie, nine, and Jake, six.
“We have been here since Thursday camping before the grandchildren arrived yesterday," he said.
“I have been coming to this WOMAD since 2008 and it’s just always such a fantastic atmosphere; it’s beautiful.
“I go to Glastonbury but the ambience here is great and you can bring children. “It’s on its own in the festival world; it’s my favourite and it’s great that the music is so diverse.
“I particularly liked Jimmy Cliff and Manganiyar Seduction; I will be looking them up on You Tube after the festival.”
Mr Gallagher was keen not to miss out on this year’s 30th anniversary celebrations, booking his tickets as soon as they were available.
He said: “I was worried they would be over-subscribed because of Glastonbury not being on this year and I knew I wanted to come, so whatever the weather I would be here.”
Lorraine Charlton, 48, of Cheltenham, arrived with husband Bill Booth and daughters Maya, 12, and Libby, 8, both Charlton-Booth.
“Before we had children we were coming here,” said Mrs Charlton. “It was fantastic then and this is the first time we have brought the children.
“The children’s area is brilliant; the people that are running it are fantastic and child friendly and child focused.
“Out of all the acts we would like to see Femi Kuti; we know what we like.”
Bonny Thompson, a mature student from Falmouth, has been coming to the festival every year since it began 30 years ago.
“It’s been an amazing weekend,” she said. “The music always brings me back. The diversity of the music really opens up the fantastic opportunities for people to enjoy themselves.
“I really like Baba Mal from west Africa. It’s a world festival, which is diverse in every way, for young and old, all ethnicities and disabilities.”
Terri Field (known to friends as ‘Toad’), from Maldon, Essex, said: “I’ve been coming to WOMAD for the last 10 years.
“We come in a large group, mostly for the music and camping, as well as the sun, when it comes out, and flags and the variety of music. I like anything I can dance to. We like anything lively and we just wander from stage to stage really.
“The atmosphere here is just really good.”
As well as the lively music and popular children's area, there are a vast array of food outlets, selling cuisine from around the world, as well as various stalls, amusements and a steam fair.
Mandy Hartfree-Bright, 51, of Farnham, said: “It’s been a good weekend. “I’ve been coming for about seven years but it is changing. It’s becoming a bit more drum and bass.
“It’s more serious as well with more police around and last night we saw some trouble, which I’ve never seen before here.
“It used to be very relaxed and family-friendly, and it still is, but there is something different about it this time. Otherwise it has been really good.”
Gaynor Leaff, 49, from Manchester, said: “The last WOMAD I went to was at Reading so this is my first time at Charlton Park.
"It’s gorgeous here what with all the trees and the layout. I’ve come really to see Robert Plant; how could I not see him?
“I want to be down at the front when he is on, being an old rock chick.
“The great thing about WOMAD is that you just wander about and find new music that you didn’t know about before.
“I come here for the music. I’m a teacher and I can come here and just relax. Glastonbury is a month too early for me as I’m still working.”
Former Led Zeppelin star Robert Plant and the Manganiyar Seduction are among the highlights expected on Sunday evening.
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