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Updated April 2008
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Botanic Park Adelaide.
March 13th-15th 1992.
However. as can be seen by the program, the actual format of Womadelaide , a Friday evening session followed by Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening sessions. has remained essentially the same , I think there were two stages actually used in 1992, but this changed after 1993 . The Friday night concert was considerably shorter than it is now , but the concept remains more or less the same . Of course nowadays , audiences are becoming much larger . From all accounts the first Woamadelaide was a fairly cosy affair with audiences way under the 10,000 per night mark.
Economics dictate that this is just too small a figure , but it would be nice to revert to the days when the crowds were much smaller and there were fewer stages ( and less noise crossover from stage to stage to contend with). Now there are six stages , stage two has become much larger, the village has increased in size ( and moved ) and the whole site is abuzz with performers , varying from the small scale to the truly gigantic (Compagnie Carabosse ) , who turn the site into a multimedia phantasmagoria of light and sound .
From the start, children were encouraged to attend the festival , those under 14 could attend free with a paying adult, This was a move that has really paid off in terms of creating a festival audience who have literally grown up attending the festival, This has also meant that they know the protocols of good behaviour at the festival the audience behaviour has if anything, improved over the years ,with audiences intently listening , not talking throughout the acts as occasionally happened in the early years. Its always been possible to leave your gear at Womad and come back to the spot hours later and find it undisturbed, its a very honest and friendly place.
Of course , much of the ambience that is a vital part of this most wonderful of festivals is due to the site itself. Originally Adelaide festival director Rob Brookman and his co-organiser Thomas Brooman , intended the festival to be a one off and to hold it in the Adelaide Hills at Waterfall Gully oval, fortunately, they aborted this plan as the oval would have been closed on fire ban days . At short notice, they chose the Botanic Park instead, an inspired choice that many feel has blessed the festival with good luck and good vibes. The Botanic Park, which nestles next to the Botanic Gardens is only minutes from the city centre , but has the atmosphere of a tranquil section of mythical countryside, peopled with a variety of trees that one would never find in any piece of countryside. Gums share space with monkey puzzle trees, English Oaks ,Elms and majestic Morton Bay figs that tower over the stages and which provide blessed havens of shade as protection for the crowds during the heat of the day .
So successful was the first festival that on the Sunday night the organisers announced on the spur of the moment that it would be repeated in 1993, even though they had no plans or funds to do so. Nevertheless, they managed to pull off the feat of organising a major three day event at such short notice, with a bill that probably supassed even 1992 in scale and quality.
After 1993 the festival was scheduled very two years to fall on a year when the Adelaide festival was not held. It was felt that it was not possible to draw sufficient crowds to both events simultaneously , However, since 2003 the e festival has been held yearly and crowds have increased exponentially every year, even when the "other " festival is being held !
Three day passes were priced at $98/$80 concession, with one person under 14 admitted free on each adult ticket. Daily tickets cost $25-$45. Now they are around $100 for a day night pass ! However, it was also possible to buy group tickets at reduced prices , an excellent tactic that continues to this day !
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Links to articles on the 1992 festival.
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