Mad March reaches peak as world acts prepare for WOMADelaide

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By Melissa Keogh

Vibrant explosions of colour and a kaleidoscope of world dance and music are expected to once again add to Adelaide’s busiest time of year as preparations for this long weekend’s WOMADelaide festival enter their final stages.

Thousands of people, including locals and interstate and overseas visitors, will descend on Botanic Park from March 8–11 to enjoy four packed days of world dance, music and art installations from the peak of the day into the late of the night.

Event organisers say they’re expecting similar attendance numbers to last year’s event at 96,000 people in total.

Hundreds of artists from more than 30 countries will work their magic at WOMAD, performing at multiple areas spread throughout the park. Inspirational young soul performer Adrian Eagle, of Adelaide’s northern suburbs, joins this year’s line-up of local talent as does hip hop princess Tkay Maidza and folk talent Timberwolf. Headlining acts include African singer and three-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo and Australia’s John Butler Trio.

Aside from artists from across the globe, WOMAD will also attract festivalgoers from far and wide who contribute to the local tourism and hospitality industry during their stay. The event is estimated to generate $14 million in visitor spend each year, while the total economic benefit in terms of incomes is estimated at $16.9 million and 164 FTEs (full time equivalent jobs).

WOMADelaide director Ian Scobie says festival research has shown almost half of the attendees come from outside of SA, with more than 40% also attending at least one other event during their stay.

“I believe it (WOMAD) is the second highest attractor of visitors behind the Adelaide 500 … it’s very efficient from a tourism perspective,” he says.

“Over that long weekend, a high number of visitors are from interstate and we also know from our research that a high portion of them stay an extra day, so they’ll visit wineries, McLaren Vale or Kangaroo Island.

“From a tourism perspective, it (WOMAD) is the hook that brings them in, and they do other things. It’s grown significantly in that regard.”

Photo by Tony Lewis.

While WOMAD is one of Adelaide’s biggest annual events – helping South Australia earn its ‘festival state’ name-tag – the timing of the event comes during the city’s busiest time of year.

Mad March, (and increasingly Mad February), is also a host to the Fringe Festival, Adelaide Festival and Adelaide 500 car race – events which collectively draw hundreds of thousands of people to the city centre.

“I think the key part of WOMAD’s success and why it works in Adelaide is that we’re a unique festival city,” Ian says.

WOMAD festivalgoers can travel around the world in four days, through the spread of art installations, musical acts and dance performances which all draw upon one common thread – unity.

“An event like WOMAD shows people that in the end there is a common humanity that unites everyone, whether you’re an Arab musician from Morocco or Adrian Eagle from the northern suburbs of Adelaide, in the end people are all connected, and they have common human aspirations,” Ian says.

Photo by Badstance.

Aside from the performance lineup, cultural installations such as the Colour of Time are also festival favourites. Explosions of coloured gulal powder will be set off in a tribute to the traditional Indian Holi Festival.

Other attractions include those with a local focus such as the WoMADE design market, supported by I Choose SA and showcasing locally crafted products.

The market comprises about 15 local stalls selling jewellery, homewares, artwork and gifts by SA designers including Julie White, Bluebell Design and Hey Reflect’o.

Still feeling the choose local vibes? Head for the Botanical Gin Bar for a range of SA gins to suit the palate of every gin lover. Coopers, Hills Cider, T Bar and Yalumba Winery are some other names to keep an eye out for.

For more info on WOMAD or to purchase tickets click here.

Feature image is The Colour of Time by Steve Trutwin.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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