I’m of the belief that having a little one does not mean life has to stop. I’ve been going to festivals every Summer for as long as I can remember and I wasn’t about to let becoming a mama change that. (We took Jack to Somersault festival last year, but he was only 12 weeks old so it didn’t really count!)
WOMAD, which stands for World of Music, Art and Dance takes place in the exquisite Wiltshire countryside and is a real cultural feast musically, artistically, and gastronomically. Now in its thirty-third year, you can tell that this is a festival that know’s what works. Stewards welcomed us with warm smiles and we were even offered a lift by Tony (the most amazing steward I’ve ever met) who bundled us on to his 4 x 4 before we could even pretend to protest and drove us, and our ninety bags (here’s my festivals essentials), to the camping field as Jack squealed with joy at every turn. And this was just the beginning.
Jack was happy as Larry the majority of our time at WOMAD. From toddling around the grass in his wellies whilst we chugged back a cider and put up our bell tent to being stuck under a rain cover gnawing on a plum for an hour whilst Sam and I frantically packed everything up in torrential rain. The Taste the World food area was our first experience inside WOMAD where we refuelled on delicious Goan fish curry and had our first bop with Jack snoozing on my back in the Ergo carrier. At other times we would sip on rich Colombian coffee, indulge in freshly baked plump sugary donuts and dine on a huge tray of steaming paella.
The array of music was incredible and over the course of the weekend our ears were treated to Israeli Jazz, Ghanaian soul, French reggae and so much more. Whilst we weren’t able to “rave” as we may have done in past years, new experiences with music were formed. One of the highlights of WOMAD for me took place around sunset. As the sun started descending and the Staves dulcet voices began wafting through the air, beautiful scenes began unfolding around us. I watched as families set about bedding down for the night with loving focus; women breastfeeding their baby to sleep propped up against the back of the tent, fathers making the final tweaks to their kids’ cart, groups of children being fed by the nominated mother. Calm contentment pervaded. We left our buggy outside the tent with another mum as we made our way into the tent to get closer to those magical voices, Jack on our back. In the end we settled near the back with another few families and watched with warm hearts as the older children welcomed Jack in to their group and game of limbo they had set up with a long piece of straw whilst we chatted away with the parents.
We loved the Steam Fair with its vintage rides and the Global Market, full of beautiful Peruvian feather earrings and fleecy blankets that made me feel cosy just looking at. At night fall we would change Jack into his babygrow and just about manage to give him some dinner propped up on a bench without him racing off to discover a new friend or wooden spoon to play with. Mealtimes are slightly tricky at a festival or camping without any sort of chair but once with his bottle of milk, dummy, nightshade and lullabies playing from our phone in the basket of the buggy (our secret weapon!), Jack would soon easily drift off to sleep leaving us to enjoy the night together as a couple, intermittently snuggling and shimmying at the sidelines as the headliners blasted out. All the while, with our child sleeping soundly by our side. What could be nicer?
What I love about festivals, and WOMAD excelled in this space, is the exceptional friendliness of everyone you meet. No one asks what your day job is, where you live or often, even what your name is. Everyone just wants to get lost in the colorful haze of the festival and throw themselves in to the “moment.” And when you have a child, it is those”moments” that are so precious and beautiful. At one point, Jack struck up a relationship with a greying older man who dazzled him with some fancy footwork in the All Singing All Dancing tent and who Jack in turn made feel young again, I am sure.
Jack thankfully slept well in his travel cot in the tent, despite me being worried he’d be too cold (my main concern) Waking up in nature makes me so happy and I loved unlacing (yes, we have a lace up tent.. it’s mega old school) the tent to show Jack the trees and the sky followed by a little amble to spot all the early morning campers. On the last day of the festival, a huge torrential downpour hit the site from first thing in the morning and we decided to head home. Cue absolute mayhem and as much peppa pig as we could get down Jack as we packed everything up and took the tent down. WOMAD stewards again saved the day as we left them watching over Jack whilst we dashed to and from the car.
We were gutted to leave WOMAD early particularly as we knew we there was just so much on offer we’d not managed to experience – the World of Wellbeing with its host of holistic activities including the spa complete with pools, sauna, showers and even a cocktail bar, the World of Words for debates and discussions and mainly, the World of Kids which hosted themed workshops and activities around Myths, Legends and Folktales (each year it’s different) culminating in the Children’s Parade on the Sunday. Thank you so much for having us WOMAD…we’ll be back.
And so has having a child change my festival experience? Yup. It’s just got even better.
P. S Here’s a quick video on our time there…take a peek and subscribe to the channel if you enjoyed this slice of our life 🙂