Warm Womad Welcome
The flags have risen, the stages are going up, and the beautiful TSB Bowl of Brooklands is ready to play host.
More than 400 artists from 21 countries began descending on the province as the buildup to the ninth edition of Womad hit full swing yesterday.
Those who arrived last night were given a seaside welcome during the annual barbecue and jam session at the New Plymouth Surf Rider's Club.
Taranaki Arts Festival Trust marketing and communications manager Lisa McMullan said it was a fantastic way to warm up for Womad which runs from tomorrow until Sunday.
"When they stand out on that grass, on that coastline, it just blows their mind. They start to go ‘Wow, what an amazing place, what a nice welcome'."
Tajikistan/Israel band The Alaev Family were in high spirits at last night's jam session.
"We are very excited to be here. We even brought grandfather with us, he is 80.
"The weather is beautiful and the weekend will be great," said Sivi Allo Alaev, who wowed the crowd with his drumming skills.
Ms McMullan said ticket sales were up six per cent on last year.
"Womad has sold out in the past and we are doing everything we can to aim for that again."
Ms McMullan said a decent walk-up crowd was also expected and gate sales would be available if the 12,500 tickets did not sell out prior to the festival's opening tomorrow night.
With the forecast showing a mixed bag of sunshine, cloudy periods, and a few showers, she remained confident it would be "perfect festival weather".
Taranaki Motel Association president Fi Evans said as far as she knew, the region's accommodation was "chock-a-block" and had been for some time.
Most accommodation providers had Womad regulars who booked a year in advance, she said.
"You've got to be in quick.
"Sometimes we have to send people away to places as close as we can, which is often all the way to Whanganui, because there's nothing here," she said.
To help meet the demand, Kiwi business Look After Me is seeking New Plymouth homeowners with guest rooms or sleepouts to billet paying guests for the weekend.
Meanwhile, in a Womad first, people are invited to take a walk around the venue with Womad technical director Michael Keat tomorrow at 10am. It would be a chance for people to see how the park dressed up for the event, and how it accommodates six stages and close to 14,000 people each day.
People wishing to attend can meet at the Victoria Rd and Brooklands Dr intersection.