Wondrous Womadelaide: 7 Reasons To Try It

15 May 2015

"Three... two... one... and . Jiggy!!!" He swivels his hips while willing me on with his coy Cuban smile. I'm one of dozens of music fans in an outdoor salsa class trying to rotate my arms while counting the beat with my clodhopper feet.

The "jiggy" bit is where we all get to wiggle our hips. And judging by the grin on our instructor's perfectly tanned face, I think we just might be getting it.

For those who haven't heard of it, the word "Womadelaide" often ignites confused looks and comments such as "Wo-what?".

The four day festival of music, art, food and ideas takes place in Adelaide's dreamy Botanic Park. Organisers have an unmatched ability to find the most incredible acts and experiences from across the planet.

If you're among the wo-whatters, here are seven reasons to put this festival on your to-do list for 2016.

 A sunset parade and dance mash (Image: Jessica Braithwaite)

1. It's the cheapest 'round the world' ticket you'll ever buy

Can't afford a trip round the world? No worries. Here, the cultures of the world come to you. Lay on the grass and soak up the sounds of Arabian desert blues, explosive Spanish pop or Southern American ragtime, then taste the world with a food park offering fresh flavours from around the world.

 Limbering up with morning yoga classes (Image: Jessica Braithwaite)

2. You can find your zen with the perfect warm-up

Downward Dog yourself in to a blissful mood before floating through the program's musical offerings. Each day kicks off with a fully instructed yoga class and limbering up means you can be sure not to pull a hammy while busting a move to your favourite African DJ.

3. The experience is one for the ages

80 years old? Sweet. Chill underneath one of Adelaide's century-old fig trees while nibbling flavoursome tapas. Eight years old? Even better. You'll get in free, as do all kids under 12, and a world of arts, craft and imagination awaits in the kids zone.

Anywhere in between those ages? I have to warn you: you're in for an exhilarating party. Plan a recovery day for afterwards and, just quietly, I hope you brought a spare pair of clothes.

 Colour bomb time! (Image: Thom Phillips)

4. It's a chance to colour your world

Colour clouds burst in the sky while heaving crowds rise and fall to the rhythm of driving electric guitars. Smiles as big as suns flood the faces of fans embracing the eruption of rainbow powder and dance (remember when I said you'd need that spare set of clothes?).

The experience is the brainchild of the eclectic performance group Artonik and is just another example of organisers' unique ability to discover the world's most breathtaking experiences. Who knows what next year will hold?

5. There's free spirits aplenty

Not the alcoholic kind (settle down). What you will find here are fields full of free-spirited folk.

Wear a suit and tie Monday to Friday? Or heels and a pencil skirt? This long weekend is a chance to unleash your inner hippie. Grab those baggy pants from the bottom of the wardrobe and feel the fresh grass under your feet as you dance to the Romanian trumpet ensemble.

If you're really brave, get involved in the exhibitions. I volunteered for an on-stage makeover with provocative hair artistry group Osadia. I entered the festival looking like this...

 Before... (Image: Thom Phillips)

and walked off stage looking like this...

 ... and after. The Osadia hair experience (Image: Thom Phillips)

6. There are smiley bouncers (Not even kidding!)

Forget power-tripping security guards who grumble at you while confiscating your bottle of water and ushering you through the gates. Here, the bouncers will compliment you on the style of your purple satchel shoulder bag then tell you that they genuinely hope you enjoy the festival.

Many of the people working at Womadelaide are volunteers who love the music just as much as you do. They've offered to work in return for a free ticket. Happy staff means happy punters.

 Tea time. The park offers loads of hideaways to chill and reset (Image: Jessica Braithwaite)

7. It's a chance to see the stars

They're all here, from national favourites like Washington, John Butler and the Cat Empire, to international greats like Peter Gabriel, Sinead Oconner and Ravi Shankar (the guy who taught The Beatles to play sitar).

The Womadelaide program is as diverse as the world it represents. This year, I watched Grammy Award-winner Gotye perform in chorus with a group of Aboriginal elders from Australia's Arnhem Land. I've never heard anything like it.

Each year the line-up is a source of surprise and delight, but any regular Womadelaider will tell you it doesn't really matter who's on the bill.

Let yourself be surprised, let your ears guide you and you're guaranteed to discover something new to treasure long after you've left the festival grounds.

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The Womadelaide music festival will take place on 11-14 March, 2016.

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Jessica Braithwaite

Jessica Braithwaite is a national weather presenter for Sky News. She’s also a familiar face in our skies, presenting in-flight reports for Qantas news bulletins. Jessica has a fiery passion for travel and adores engaging with the wonderful experiences this world has to offer.