The top 10 best world music festivals

GNAOUA WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL, ESSAOUIRA MOROCCO

sunapril21traveller10 traveller 10 world music festival ; text by Michael Gebicki ; SUPPLIED Karima Hachimi <karima@a3communication.net> ; Gnaoua World Music Festival Moroccocredit: @festivalgnaoua 

Descended from former sub-Saharan African slaves, the Gnaoua are the musical wizards of Morocco. Their music is a haunting synthesis of tribal African rhythms and Arabic songs using drums, metal castanets and the guenbri, a kind of lute. Held over four days in June on Morocco's Atlantic coast, the festival marshals musicians from all over the world who come to pay tribute to the bedrock power and influence of Black African music, as well as the grand masters of Gnaoua music. See http://www.festival-gnaoua.net/en

WOMADELAIDE, ADELAIDE

WOMAD – the World of Music, Arts and Dance – has spread around the world since Peter Gabriel launched the concept in 1982. Adelaide's version is a classy but casual showcase of some of the best of contemporary world music, held over four days in March in the city's gorgeous Botanic Park. As well as music, expect global grazing food, talk fests with some of the festival's biggest names and the new Electrolounge, a late night electronic music club. See https://www.womadelaide.com.au

WORLD SACRED SPIRIT FESTIVAL, JODHPUR INDIA

Held in February in India's desert state of Rajasthan, this three-day festival brings together disparate talents – Sufi singers, sitar supremos, an Azeri zither group, a classical guitarist from Argentina, Celtish bagpipers, oud players from the Mahgreb in 2019 among many others – in a celebration of religious ecstasy. Venue is the spectacular Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, where backdrops include the former harem, walled gardens and Mughal-style courtyards. See https://worldsacredspiritfestival.org

CALIENTE, ZURICH SWITZERLAND

This is Europe's biggest Latin festival, and the street-party atmosphere is highly infectious. For three days in July the hip-snapping burghers of Zurich launch themselves into a frantic feast of all things Latin – salsa, merengue, tango, capoeira and bachata with a side-serve of reggae. Focus of the action is the Kaserne, located in District Four, the city's hipzone, and as well as concerts, the festival program includes percussion summits and jam sessions, dance groups, DJ floors, a market with lots of non-Swiss food, art shows and even a cigar lounge to bring out the essential Havana verité. See http://www.caliente.ch/de/index.html

AFRICA FESTIVAL, WURZBURG GERMANY

Europe's biggest, oldest and best festival of African music and culture, this four-day event opens its arms to embrace all musical styles that find their roots in Africa. Reggae artists, steel bands, voodoo blues from Haiti, kora players from Senegal, a Limpopo choir from South Africa and an afro psychodelic band from Soweto feature on the program in 2019, which offers more than just music for the ears. There's a Samba-inflected street parade, African film and dance workshops, craft workshops and a bazaar. See https://www.africafestival.org

FES SACRED MUSIC FESTIVAL, MOROCCO

 

Photo: Supplied

Morocco's sacred city is an appropriate setting for this prestigious event. Begun as a healing festival to find common ground between Christianity and Islam, the festival has grown to embrace all faiths. True to that spirit, chanting monks from Tibet, Sufi musicians from Iran and Turkey, Indian raga players, Japanese musicians who specialise in the music of the imperial court, Sephardic Jewish singers and American gospel groups have graced the stage. Often they mingle, and the impromptu chemistry of these performances is one of the highlights of the nine-day June event. See fesfestival.com/

INTERNATIONAL SORI FESTIVAL, JEONJU SOUTH KOREA

sunapril21traveller10 traveller 10 world music festival ; text by Michael Gebicki ; SUPPLIED <joyjoeun@daum.net>
credit: Jeonju Int'l Sori Festival 2018
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Held in the south-western city of Jeonju, the aim of this October festival is to transcend borders and generations with an East-West musical synthesis. With Korean pansori performances as its centrepiece, this has evolved into one of Asia's most popular culture fests. In 2018 the shaman music of Korea was a focus, alongside a jazz/flamenco/klezmer fusion band from Spain, an afro-classical trio from the Netherlands and a whirling dervish troupe from Turkey. Expect to be surprised. See sorifestival.com

FESTIVAL MUSICAS DO MUNDO, SINES PORTUGAL

Mali's Oumou Sangare once called this "the festival of joy" and the tag resonates in this feelgood exploration of folk, jazz, alternative, fusion and urban music from the four corners. Portugal's native fado music is a specialty. Venues, which include Sines' medieval castle, the Arts Centre and the beach and the gorgeous nearby village of Porto Covo are mostly outdoors and modest in size which keeps the audience numbers to manageable levels. In 2019 the four-day pass costs just €50. See http://www.fmmsines.pt/

OSLO WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL

sunapril21traveller10 traveller 10 world music festival ; text by Michael Gebicki ; SUPPLIED http://www.osloworld.no/en/press/album/ credit: Oslo World Music Festivalpictured: Oslo World Music Festival 2018 - Benin International

Chilly Oslo warms to the sounds of African, Asian and Latin American music over six days starting in late October, and it's a rich feast. In 2018 the program featured a Brazilian big band, a South African singer who describes her style as "future ghetto punk", the legendary Kronos Quartet performing with Iranian singers, the electrifying rhythms of the Sahara from Bombino and pianist/composer Christophe Chassol. Ideas, politics and revolution are given a place onstage while aspiring talent comes to the microphone at Open Xpressions events. See

http://www.osloworld.no

MAWAZINE, RABAT MOROCCO

This megafest claims an attendance of more than 2 million, making it a King Kong of Africa's music events, and one of the world's largest. Spread over nine days with more than 1000 artists, it's a musical potpourri, with the sounds of Morocco with Black African beats as the main course and a side-serve from the rest of the world, garnished with a few superstars. The big draw is the chance to experience the spicy flavours of Islamic and sub-Saharan African music. See http://www.festivalmawazine.ma

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