Taranaki warming up for Womad 2017 gallery

Kiwi country musician Marlon Williams will be playing on Friday night at Womad.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Kiwi country musician Marlon Williams will be playing on Friday night at Womad.

Archie Roach has kicked off Womad 2017 with the sounds of Let Love Rule drifting across the Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth.

Clear skies welcomed music lovers to the city on Friday and with a forecast absent of rain, festival organisers are predicting this year's event to be one of the biggest yet.

Kiwi folk and county singer Marlon Williams, who played on the Bowl stage on Friday night, said he was looking forward to performing at the festival for the first time.

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The Bowl of Brooklands filled up for the opening of the festival.

Womad is opened by dignitaries including New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom, Minister for arts, culture and heritage Maggie Barry and Iwi representitives.

The Sensorie stilt dancers were spotted around the park.

Womad runs for three days, finishing on Sunday evening.

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom speaks during the opening of the festival.

Archie Roach opens Womad on the Bowl stage.

Indiah Holder-Lunn, 18, from Christchurch meets a swan during the opening act of Womad on the Bowl stage.

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"I've known people that have played here in previous years and they've always come back smiling and relaxed," he said.

While he was heading back to Auckland on Saturday, he was looking forward to hearing some of the acts on Friday night.

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Archie Roach opens Womad on the Bowl stage.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Archie Roach opens Womad on the Bowl stage.

"The Specials are on straight after me so that's going to be good, it's going to be a nice thing to be able to play a show and then pack up and watch The Specials play," he said.

"Womad's good for that, it's such a mixed bag of stuff that you can go around wandering by yourself and chance upon something that you have never heard before and it can open up whole other worlds."

Jonathan Read, who plays trumpet with The Specials, shared a photo of the two life guards in charge of looking after the moat between the stage and the crowd at the Bowl of Brooklands.

Mercedes Peon from Spain opens on the Gables stage.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Mercedes Peon from Spain opens on the Gables stage.

"I think it's the first time we've had lifeguards at a gig," he tweeted.

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One-day passes for Saturday sold out by midday on Friday and anyone interested in attending was advised to get in quick for a three day pass.

However, organisers warned music lovers off buying tickets from Viagogo, a website that was unofficially on-selling festival tickets.

Eli Fagan, 5, from Auckland was cruising through the camping area at Pukekura raceway.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Eli Fagan, 5, from Auckland was cruising through the camping area at Pukekura raceway.

"Womad are strongly advising purchasers not to use the Viagogo system as we have received many complaints," Cleo Wood, TAFT marketing manager said.

"Please use the official website ticketing links on the Womad website."

For the first time, the festival will feature a number of "World of Words" sessions where artists, writers and scientists will discus everything from cancer research to the rights of indigenous people.

The camping area at Pukekura raceway quickly filled up on Friday.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

The camping area at Pukekura raceway quickly filled up on Friday.

And of course, festival goers will be looking forward to the large variety of food available.

The camp site at Pukekura Raceway was already filling up on Friday, with traffic on Coronation Ave slowed to allow a smooth entrance for the large amount of visitors heading into town.

The build up to the festival, which runs until Sunday night, started on Wednesday, with the artists treated to a Kiwi barbecue at the New Plymouth Surfriders Club overlooking Fitzroy Beach.

On Thursday, the public had a taste of what was to come with a free concert on the Puke Ariki Landing where The Soil, The Swan Sisters and The East Pointers performed.

Later on Thursday, the artists were officially welcomed to the region and the event with a powhiri at Owae Marae in Waitara.

It appeared many had been brushing up on their te reo, with most beginning their speech with "kia ora".

Roach, Mercedes Peon and the New Zealand Dance Company all kicked off the festival, across three different stages, with 10 other acts scheduled for Friday night.

The clear skies are expected to continue for the remainder of the festival, with Metservice predicting sunshine with some cloudy periods until Tuesday next week, with no rain in sight.

Acts from nearly 30 different countries, including Sudha Ragunathan from India, La Mambanegra from Colombia and Mercedes Peon from Galicia, Spain, will be entertaining the crowd during the weekend. But it won't just be about the music.

 - Stuff

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