Womad 2012: festival preview

The world music festival reaches its 30th anniversary this year. Come and join the celebrations

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Womad, the UK's biggest festival celebrating international music, arts and dance. Renowned almost as much for its family-friendly atmosphere as for its eclectic musical offerings, festivalgoers can look forward to international culture, food and workshops, set in the historic grounds of Charlton Park, Wiltshire.

At Womad's heart is a celebration of multiculturalism, and the festival's 2012 lineup is as diverse as you'd expect. Musical legends such as Jamaican reggae singer Jimmy Cliff and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant will be joined by an array of popular acts, which include British singer-songwriter Patrick Wolf, celebrated Algerian singer Khaled, and the Nigerian Afrobeat musician Femi Kuti. There are also some interesting collaborations to look forward to: sampler and hip-hop turntablist DJ Yoda will perform with eastern Europe's Trans-Siberian March Band, while American rapper and beatboxer Joe Driscoll will team up with kora player Sekou Kouyaté.

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Reflecting on the festival's three-decade history, co-founder Peter Gabriel said: "Many extraordinary artists have told us that Womad was critical to their international success, and was often the first time they had played to a 'foreign' audience."

Below are a few of our picks from each day, along with links to some of our coverage of the artists, exclusive videos, album streams, playlists, and various other bits and pieces to read, watch and listen to.

• For a flavour of 2011's festival, take a look at this colourful gallery.

Jimmy Cliff

The reggae singer reveals his family values in this recent article, and remembers growing up in Jamaica, in an interview from 2008. Plus, look out for an exclusive video interview and live performance from him on guardian.co.uk/music this week.

Raghu Dixit

Former scientist Raghu Dixit has taken the music scene by storm in his native India, and is regarded as one of the country's most inventive and charismatic artists. Now, he tells Robin Denselow in this interview, his sights are on the UK.

Femi Kuti

It took years for Femi Kuti to win over fans of his father, the Afrobeat legend Fela. Now his only quarrels are with the government, the media, the record company, Madonna … He talks to Maya Jaggi in this 2007 interview, and more recently he "bought some much needed African cool" to Glastonbury 2010. Will the same apply at Womad?

Ane Brun

Writing about the the single Do You Remember?, Michael Cragg said it showcased a "beguiling concoction of tribal drumming, feather-light percussion and Brun's captivating vocals". Laura Barton was similarly enthused when writing about Brun's soulful cover of Arcade Fire's Neighbourhood #1.


Forever associated with their biggest hit Brimful of Asha (selected as one of our best No 1 records of the last 60 years), Cornershop have plenty more strings to their bow. Their Singhles Club MP3 What Did the Hippie Have in His Bag? featured in Michael Cragg's new music last year, and here the band speak to Paul Morley about how the Beatles influenced their sound.

Reading on mobile? Open this Womad 2012 playlist with Spotify

Patrick Wolf

Last year the newly engaged pop iconoclast told Elizabeth Day how falling in love at first sight has inspired his album Lupercalia. Judge the results for yourself on this album stream.

Kimmo Pohjonen

"An extremely cool 47-year-old with conical hair, who has earned the nickname 'the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion'" – a brief but vivid description of the Finnish accordionist from this recent interview, in which he discusses bringing accordion wrestling to the UK.

Seth Lakeman

We interviewed folk troubadour Seth Lakeman back in 2006, fresh from his Mercury prize nomination. Also, listen to the singer-songwriter chatting to Sarfraz Manzoor about how rock'n'roll helped shape his music in this podcast, and read Neil Spencer's review of his latest album, Tales from the Barrel House.

Robert Plant

There's no doubt Robert Plant has proved there is life after Led Zep: the rocker spoke to us last year about his successful solo career, as well as his time in the legendary band. And warm up for his headline performance at Womad by reading this review of his performance at last year's Big Chill festival.

Portico Quartet

Read Jude Rogers' 2008 interview with the London "post-jazz" band after they had just received a Mercury prize nomination for their debut album Knee-Deep in the North Sea. We've also got a video of a live session they recorded for us earlier this year, which you can watch here.


The Algerian-French collective fuse jazz, folk and north African music to create a sound that is distinctively offbeat and freewheeling. Don't forget to check Guardian Music tomorrow, where we'll be featuring an interview with the band.

• Are you attending Womad? If so, let us know how it goes. Tweet @guardianmusic and tell us about the best and worst things you've seen. Or if you've got the Guardian's iPhone app, you can use the "Send us a story" function at the bottom of the homescreen to tell us more. We'll be rounding up your views next week when we review the festival.

• Are you taking a camera? If so, we'd love to see your photos. Our Festivals 2012 Flickr group is the place to upload your pictures from this summer's outdoor music events. We'll be featuring some of our favourite pictures from the group on guardian.co.uk.

Stephanie Soh

The GuardianTramp

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