WOMAD festival hailed the best yet

Flavia Coelho from Brazil Backstage gets into the spirit of WOMAD

Flavia Coelho from Brazil Backstage gets into the spirit of WOMAD

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Tens of thousands of revellers descended on Malmesbury this weekend for four days of eclectic music, a relaxed atmosphere and food from around the globe at what has been hailed the best WOMAD ever.

World of Music and Dance festival (WOMAD), returned to Charlton Park for its seventh year to introduce its 35,000 guests to world cultures over four days.

Nigeria’s Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 topped the bill on Friday night. Arrested Development from America headlined on Saturday and Brazilian Gilberto Gil on Sunday.

Ben Turner and his friend Sam Ainscoe, from Manchester, said the diverse mix of music was the highlight of their festival. Mr Turner said: “My dad got us tickets; we love festivals as a family.

“The music here is good. It’s really interesting listening to things you don’t hear that often.”

Nicole Powell from Berkley said this year’s WOMAD was her 14th time and that she prefers Charlton Park to the festival’s previous location in Reading: “I like it better here.

“It’s a lot more hard work on your legs. I like this site but the first year I hated it because of the mud.

“My kids get so excited every year. It’s just so relaxed here.”

WOMAD also boasted its usual old fashioned steam fair, global market, children's area and wellbeing section offering massages and fortune telling.

Food from across the world was on offer, including Goan fish curries, Japanese noodles and Caribbean chicken.

Sun shone from Thursday, but rain poured on Saturday afternoon and throughout the night. Despite the muddy conditions revellers stayed to enjoy the music and were rewarded with a sunny morning on Sunday.

Festival director Chris Smith said: “It was magnificent in every way. We’re very excited about how well it went – great programme, great audience, great everything.

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“Crime dropped significantly, we had hardly any accidents health-wise and drug seizures were down.

“It just went extremely well. It was the best one, without a doubt. The rain didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.

“My highlights were the Malawi Mouse Boys and Arrested Development, but for two very different reasons.

“The Malawi Mouse Boys are taking their first steps on what should be a glittering career, and it was great to have Arrested Development coming back to play on a main stage. That’s what we’re all about: the very experienced and the new talent being discovered.”

Wiltshire Police have also hailed this year's WOMAD festival a success after just five people were arrested over the whole weekend.

The arrests, which are down from 10 the previous year, were predominately for theft and drug offences.

The use of amnesty bins has also been praised with drugs and drug paraphernalia being deposited in these bins outside the venue before revellers entered the site.

Superintendent Gavin Williams said: "This was a safe and well managed festival.

"The amnesty bins proved to be a great success - in that drugs were left in these outside the festival site and so were not brought in or used.

"Arrests are down from last year as officers dealt with most of the 20 reported crimes onsite as this was the most appropriate disposal method.

"Working relationships between Wiltshire Police, the organisers and security officers were excellent and this is a great example of positive partnership working.

"This was a case of the right level of policing resources and good partnership working."

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