A COLOURFUL conclave of new artists from around the world will lure 30,000 people to the Wiltshire countryside for the much-awaited 33rd WOMAD festival, which starts today.

A raft of big names from the world music scene have been announced for the four-day event at Charlton Park, near Malmesbury, including De La Soul, Tinariwen, Ghostpoet, Bellowhead and Laura Mvula.

Aficionados of esoteric ethnic music will also be able to witness a “fluid super-group” formed by Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and Money Mark of the Beastie Boys called Atom Bomb! Who is William Onyeabor?

The group, whose special guests have previously included Damon Albarn and David Byrne, pays tribute to reclusive 1970s Nigerian synth pioneer William Onyeabor.

They will, promise the organisers, “flood the WOMAD stage with Onyeabor’s trademark futuristic grooves”.

Cutting-edge sounds from Africa will arrive courtesy of Mbongwana Star of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who merge traditional Congolese guitar with distortion, echo and beguiling electronics.

More traditional Afro sounds will be provided by Kasse Mady Diabate, Mali’s venerable, velvet-voiced elder statesman.

From more northerly climes, Slovenian artist Magnifico will bring a unique fusion of Balkan brass, disco, funk and surf guitars to the party in the park.

Also on the bill is Senegal’s regally dreadlocked Cheikh Lô, an undoubted giant of world music known for his fiery, percussion-driven performances.

Joining artists from as far flung corners of the globe as Tibet, Mali, Senegal and South Korea will be a folk rock trio from closer to home.

All the way from Hertfordshire, The Staves comprise three silken-voiced sisters whose bold second album If I Was was released earlier this year to critical acclaim.

Six-piece funk fusion band The Cat Empire, whose imminent Royal Albert Hall date has sold out, specialise in extended jams and anthemic, genre-crossing songs.

Daddy G, of Bristol’s Massive Attack, has teamed up with dancehall MC Deemas J for a special collaboration in The Red Tent – one of several stages dotted around the meadows, woods and chill-out zones of Charlton Park.

Food as well as music from around the world will enhance the festival as some of the artists show off their cooking prowess at the Taste the World stage.