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06 octobre 2006

WOMAD comes to Wiltshire

THE WOMAD music festival will be coming home to north Wiltshire next year, 25 years after it was conceived here.Musician Peter Gabriel came up with the idea for the festival - The World of Music, Arts and Dance - in 1980 at his Real World studios in Box.

The first WOMAD event was held two years later in Somerset and since then it has travelled across the country, and has spent the last 17 years in Reading, Berkshire. The organisers have decided the festival has outgrown the Reading site and have decided to try and bring it back to the place it was created.

The organisers are not disclosing the location of the new festival site but the Chippenham News understands that Charlton Park, near Malmesbury, has been approached to host the event. The three-day music event is the UK's biggest festival of international music and regularly draws crowds of up to 40,000 people to the Reading area It is expected to take place from July 27-29 next year.

Organisers at WOMAD's head office at Gabriel's studios in Box say the festival had outgrown the Reading site and they were delighted to have found a new home in Wiltshire near to their headquarters.They added that they were proud of their achievements at Reading but felt they needed to move in order to protect its long-term future and audience appeal.

North Wiltshire District Council has held a meeting with the organisers to discuss the proposed move to Charlton Park next summer. A spokesman said: "We have had a preliminary discussion with the organisers and understand it could involve up to 45,000 people in attendance."An event safety group meeting has been organised for later this month and we anticipate a premises licence application later in this year."If this goes ahead it will be the largest event ever to be held in north Wiltshire."

Leader of the council Carol O'Gorman said: "It is wonderful news for north Wiltshire."This will encourage people to come and stay and share north Wiltshire with us and will help our economy and bring people in."I can't wait for it to go ahead." She deflected claims that the festival would be a nightmare for health and safety and would bring traffic problems, adding: "We have got a brilliant team at North Wilts, an expert team of officers, who will be looking in to that and will sort it out."We have to be up for it, and we will be."

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