Our WOMAD story

In the beginning... there were three men - Peter Gabriel, Thomas Brooman and Bob Hooton who put their innovative musical heads together and founded The WOMAD Festival. This was 1980. It took two years to actually realise their dream and bring WOMAD Festival to Shepton Mallet. And this was July 1982. The crowds came in their droves and encountered a feat of extraordinary musicians and artists, workshops for all. Don Cherry, Simple Minds, Imrat Khan, The Drummers of Burundi, Echo and The Bunnymen and Peter Gabriel (to name but a few). WOMAD was perhaps the first truly international music festival to emerge at this time.

Artist demo contact address: artist.demo@womad.org


The Drummers of Burundi at WOMAD Shepton Mallet 1982.


WOMAD Charlton Park 2012. Photography: Suzie Blake.

And now... WOMAD, World of Music, Arts and Dance, is an internationally established Festival bringing together artists from all over the globe. WOMAD continues to present music that we feel to be of excellence, passion and individuality, regardless of musical genre or geographical origin, to thousands of festival goers everywhere. As an organisation, WOMAD now works in many different ways, but our aims are always the same - at festivals, performance events, through recorded releases and through educational projects, we aim to excite, to inform, and to create awareness of the worth and potential of a multicultural society.

"Pure enthusiasm for music from around the world led us to the idea of WOMAD in 1980 and thus to the first WOMAD festival in 1982. The festivals have always been wonderful and unique occasions and have succeeded in introducing an international audience to many talented artists.

Equally important, the festivals have also allowed many different audiences to gain an insight into cultures other than their own through the enjoyment of music. Music is a universal language, it draws people together and proves, as well as anything, the stupidity of racism."

Peter Gabriel
  • Performances. Music is at the forefront of any WOMAD festival. It is the artists, many unfamiliar to the audience, that bring the spine tingling sensation of discovery and excitement to the atmosphere that is so unique to WOMAD. Expect the unknown, and relish the discovery.
  • Children's Workshops. Artists from far and wide share ideas, skills and enthusiasm over a weekend of making and creating large and small scale artworks, all displayed on the final celebratory procession.
  • Adult Workshops. Step into the world of the artist - opportunities for cultural exchange, active participation, collaboration and musical exploration.
  • Taste The World. Food and conversation - artists prepare & cook their favourite dishes with a side order of spontaneous music. Savour the experience.
  • Site Decorations. With the beautiful flags fluttering in the breeze, you know you're at WOMAD. Then from graffiti walls to light displays, there is site art to also get involved in.
  • Global market. Immerse yourself in the stalls at the global markets - A world of food to enjoy, and a World of shopping to be done.
  • WOMAD is in the 2001 'Guinness Book of Records' as "biggest International Music Festival".
  • Audience size has varied from 100,000 in Abu Dhabi and 98,000 at WOMAD in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park (this was the highest attended ticketed outdoor event in the world in 1993) to much smaller intimate audiences of a few hundred at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, for example.
  • Since 1982, WOMAD has held over 160 festivals, creating events in twenty-seven countries and islands all over the world, including: Abu Dhabi, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Sardinia, Sicily, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, UK, and the United States of America.
  • We have presented more than one thousand artists at our festivals, bringing cultures from more than 100 different countries to a live audience of over one million people.
  • With a reputation for introducing often unknown artists to a wider audience, WOMAD presented Neneh Cherry, Youssou N'Dour, Afro-Celt Sound System, The Housemartins, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Asian Dub Foundation "before they were famous"!
  • Peter Gabriel toured with WOMAD across the USA (1993 & 1994) and has performed at WOMAD festivals in Shepton Mallett (1982), Carlyon Bay (1988); Bath (1993); Turkey (1993) and Seattle (2001).
  • Over the past three decades the WOMAD production team have put up over 3450 marquees, 60km of fencing and 7590 of WOMAD's signature flags.
  • WOMAD has staged some unusual one-offs, including 1996's 'Great Musical Rail Journey of Australia' that crossed the Nullarbor desert from Perth to Adelaide, stopping off for a WOMAD performance in the outback of Pimba.
Flags at WOMAD Charlton Park

WOMAD Charlton Park 2012. Photography: Suzie Blake.

Main Stage at Abu Dhabi

WOMAD Abu Dhabi. Photography: TMH.

  • Womad Ltd.
  • Company registration number: 2734599
  • Place of registration: England
  • Registration address:
  • Box Mill
  • Mill Lane
  • Box
  • Wiltshire
  • SN13 8PL
  • United Kingdom