Fridays at WOMAD are like catching up with an old friend.
You ease yourself into the familiar surroundings, there are a few subtle changes here and there but for the most part it is comfortable and feels like home.
Once the obligatory welcomes and public service announcements are through (I never want to hear the words “fist each other” coming from Andrew Little’s mouth again, Coronavirus or not) we kick in to action with raucous brass, guitar licks and surging colours.
There’s that old friend we knew, full of life and vigour. The hardships, trials and tribulations of the past year melt away and the laughter and memories come flooding back. Good to see you again, mate. It’s been too long.
Ira is making friends with WOMAD for the first time, this year. Full of confidence, as soon as he is released from his buggy, he’s off and heading straight for a picnic basket he’s spotted on the hill overlooking the bowl.
Deftly he is ushered away by a watchful mummy, but the call of the crackers and cheese is too strong, and he promptly returns, much to the delight of the families perched there catching the opening act KermesZ à l’Es.
The sound of the brass distracts Ira from his mission to eat any cracker left unguarded, and he has a wee boogie on the grass.
His dance moves may not be conventional, but he is free and swept up in the moment, and if that isn’t what WOMAD is all about then I don’t know what is.
A brilliant and already wildly popular addition to the festival is the TSB Hang Out Zone, with hammocks aplenty spread out underneath the shady trees near the historic homestead chimney.
Just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the Global Village, but still close enough for people watching and catching the beats from nearby stages. Ira enjoys a swing in the hammock with daddy, and daddy enjoys a few minutes off his feet.
The early evening sun streaming through the trees casts a beautiful shimmer across the fields as throngs of people line up for dinner.
By 7:30pm the line for Hungarian fried bread is already 30 people deep and Ira has eaten so many crackers (many of which were donated by strangers who cannot deny an adorable, yet determined 13 month old) that he simply isn’t interested in the delicious doughy treat. Fried bread will have to wait until Saturday, I’ll just make up for lost time by eating twice as many.
Ira is drawn to the sounds of bagpipes and fiddles and we make our way to the Gables stage to catch the mesmerizing Rura, who will be a definite highlight of the festival.
However, after a big day and with bedtime well and truly been and gone, Ira is getting a bit scratchy, so we decide to make an early exit. There are two more days to catch up with our old friend and for Ira to make a new one.
WOMAD has wrapped a young boy up in its loving, friendly embrace. Ira has a fair old grizzle as we wind our way through the trees and bush to head home, maybe he’s upset to be leaving his newfound friend behind… Maybe he’s just shattered and full of crackers. Most likely it’s a bit of both.
Bring on Saturday, more adventures to be had and more memories to be made. Must remember to pack more crackers…
For more than 10 years, Martin Quicke has loved everything about WOMAD – the music, the food, the beer and especially his glitter beards. This year he’s experiencing a new side of his favourite festival, as he’s bringing his 13-month-old son along.
Welcome to his 2020 festival experience: New Dad @ WOMAD.
Words by Martin Quicke with photos by Hannah Dodd