A Site For Sore Eyes
International solo star and Womad Festival co-founder
The park in question is basically the grounds of the ancestral home of Viscount Andover, Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire, whose garden is a vast and picturesque rural landscape just outside the town of Malmesbury.
Gabriel said his first visit to the new site made it “immediately clear” that it’s the right place for the festival the Financial Times described as “a country field with a view across the planet,” and that it was wonderful to get a call from Charlton Park “at a moment when we and our audience felt we had outgrown our home in Reading.”
He’s also pleased that the move from Reading Rivermead, where the festival had blossomed beyond the site capacity, will take Womad back to the west country, where it began 25 years ago.
“We are creating a new rural vision and a new life for Womad in the U.K. After all these years, Charlton Park is in many ways a fulfilment of our earliest dreams for the festival,” said festival director Thomas Brooman.
“Womad has always aimed to bring artists and audiences together in an atmosphere of delight, discovery and peace, and at Charlton Park we believe we have found the perfect place to achieve this – a unique cultural experience in a corner of the English countryside at its idyllic, bucolic best,” the festival director gushed.
The park, which has much more space than the 20,000-capacity Rivermead, is about seven miles from Junction 17 of the M4, 100 miles due west of London, and fewer than 30 miles away from Bath, Bristol and Swindon.
Next year’s 25th anniversary Womad takes place July 27-29.
– John Gammon