After pandemic restrictions saw the annual world music festival reimagined as a series of four seated sunset concerts in King Rodney Park / Ityamai-itpina this year,  director Ian Scobie says he is thrilled it will be able to celebrate its 30-year anniversary in the park where it has been held since the first WOMADelaide in 1992.

The first announcement in the line-up for the March 11-14 event will be made in mid-November.

Ongoing uncertainty surrounding international travel means it will comprise mainly Australian-based musicians, but Scobie says audiences can still expect “the extraordinarily diverse, global music flavours for which the festival is renowned”.

He told InReview that the maximum daily capacity in Botanic Park will be reduced from 25,000 a day to 18,000 a day.

Everyone on site who is aged over 16 ­– including members of the public, artists, staff, volunteers and stallholders – must be double vaccinated, with a check box advising ticket buyers that this is a requirement for attending.

“Essentially, in going back to Botanic Park, albeit with reduced capacity to 18,00 a day… we just feel that from an OH&S point of view – both in terms of the staff and artists and audience – that we must make a blanket rule that essentially anyone at the event has to be fully vaccinated,” Scobie says.

Like other event organisers, including Adelaide Festival, WOMADelaide’s preference would be for the Government to mandate double vaccination for those attending festivals and major events: “But we can’t wait for that. We have to put tickets on sale… we felt that from that point, when we put tickets on sale, we need to be very clear that people will have to be vaccinated to attend.”

Scobie says the number of artists performing will be similar to other years, with the schedule including both favourites from previous festivals and musicians performing at WOMAD for the first time.

Another major change, however, is that audience members wanting to get close to the main stages or enter the Planet Talks pavilion will need to pass through a barrier and scan a QR code (in addition to that required for entry to the park). There will be more screens than usual around the park so people can also watch projected performances from further back.

As to the question of whether revellers will be able to dance in the park come March 2022, that will come down to the SA Health advice at the time, but Scobie says WOMADelaide organisers are “feeling reasonably positive about how next summer will look and feel”.

“Certainly our hope and expectation is that things will be that much freer with the level of fully vaccinated people in the community and everything else.”

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