Reporter Dan Wood shares his experience after visiting WOMAD for the first time...

Despite it just finishing up its 40th event, a lot of people might be asking themselves what exactly WOMAD Festival is and hopefully, now I'll be able to answer that question for you. 

I have been to a number of the UK's biggest festivals, more conventional offerings like Glastonbury, Reading, Isle of Wight and Bestival but I'd never been to the nearest festival geographically to where I live in WOMAD before. 

Swindon Advertiser: The Sunday WOMAD processionThe Sunday WOMAD procession

WOMAD, or the World of Music Arts and Dance, is a true melting pot of cultures, ideas and creativity - a distinctly weird chameleon capable of changing its colour to suit whatever it is anyone might be looking for. 

Swindon Advertiser:

Never before have I seen such a vast range of people at a single festival. Families with young children, pregnant mothers, teens, young adults, old adults, the elderly were all there in their thousands - 40,000 of them in fact. 

And all of them were getting something incredibly different from their experience, each person experiencing their own individual moments of magic throughout the four-day weekend of entertainment. 

Swindon Advertiser: The chaos of the Ping Pong ThunderdomeThe chaos of the Ping Pong Thunderdome

Personally, mine was when a little girl in front of us for a Japanese drumming performance kept playing peekaboo with my wife and me, and then gave us a hug, or playing against a group of children in the 'Ping Pong Thunderdome' who delighted in hitting me in the face with the balls, or it was rekindling a love of spoken word poetry performance. 

On a given day, I would watch some of the best musical acts from around the globe, acts I wouldn't usually seek out but thoroughly enjoyed, then I'd listen to a talk on the James Webb space telescope, then I'd watch a Korean folk group cook and sing at the same time and even get to try the food, then I'd go to a gin masterclass and then I'd visit the giant moon in the middle of a secret forest.  

Swindon Advertiser:

It truly is a festival of discovery, unburdened by my usual tightly constructed schedule management of festivals with more popular mainstream acts, it was a truly freeing experience to wander around and just see what was happening. 

Swindon Advertiser: Saturday headliners The Flaming Lips with a giant inflatable robotSaturday headliners The Flaming Lips with a giant inflatable robot

All of this led to one of the most relaxed, interesting, fun, wholesome and quite importantly, safe experiences I've ever had at such a large event.

So much so that I'm already thinking about going back to see some of the things I missed this time.