Among the headliners in today’s line-up announcement are UK trip-hop duo Morcheeba, best-known for their 2000 hit “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day”, and Grammy-winning English singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, who first rose up the charts with “Put Your Records On” and has recently earned accolades for her latest album, Black Rainbows.

Tunisian-American singer songwriter Emel Mathlouthi, San Diego-based R&B/soul group Thee Sacred Souls and ’70s British funk group Cymande will also perform at the March 8-11 festival, joining previously announced artists such as Jamaican musician Ziggy Marley and Senegalese star Baaba Maal.

The line-up so far doesn’t include more mainstream big-name acts like this year’s headliners Florence + The Machine and Bon Iver, who rocked out the main stage but were also blamed by some long-time WOMADelaide fans for the crowd congestion on the first two days of the event.

French company Gratte Ciel ­– whic sparked both awe and criticism with its feather-filled aerial ballet Place des Anges  in 2018 and took to the skies above Botanic Park again this year – will return in 2024 with a new show called RoZéO, a “living installation” to be performed across all four days of the festival in which performers dance atop 10m-high poles to an original score.

Also performing around the park over the long weekend will be two other French performance-art companies, Cie L’Immediat and Compagnie On Off, as well as Melbourne physical theatre ensemble Born in a Taxi with their “Illuminated Angels”, and Canadian dance-theatre company CORPUS with two different acts: one a processional performance featuring four “singing goddesses” and the other a live installation described as “a hilarious observation about sheep”.

Australian musicians in the latest line-up announcement include ARIA-winning Melbourne-based Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Kahu singer-songwriter Jen Cloher, whose five-piece band will be joined by Māori cultural performance group T’HONI Kapa Haka; Filipino/Wiradjuri artist Mo’Ju, and nine-piece “Ethio-jazz” band Black Jesus Experience.

Black Jesus Experience blend Ethiopian music with hip-hop and funk. photo: Bram Lammers

More than 110,000 people converged on the park for the 2023 WOMADelaide, with the festival licensed to accommodate 30,000 people a day and tickets selling out in advance for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

WOMADelaide director Ian Scobie told InReview today that the fact the announcements so far for 2024 don’t include popular mainstream acts along the lines of Florence and Bon Iver was not a response to the overcrowding criticisms this year.

He said that because the 2023 event was the first large music festival in Australia post-COVID, organisers had strived to present a program that was “irresistible” and would encourage people back. The result was that it attracted record numbers, including from interstate – “and there were some teething problems along the way”.

Returning WOMADelaideans will notice significant changes to the layout of the site

WOMADelaide has significantly re-designed the event layout for 2024 to try to address some of the overcrowding concerns, including creating a new WoMarkets hub, which will see more than 40 retail spaces relocated to an area on Plane Tree Drive to open up more space in the middle of the park. The Zoo Stage and Kidzone spaces will also be relocated.

“Returning WOMADelaideans will notice significant changes to the layout of the site, and we hope and anticipate that will make it easier to get around and make it feel less crowded,” Scobie explained.

Following complaints about the lengthy food and toilet queues this year, the number of food outlets and portable loos will increase by around 20 per cent for 2024. Toilets will also be distributed differently around the park and have more attendants.

While some fans have posted comments on social media asking if attendance numbers will be capped or reduced for 2024, Scobie confirmed that capacity will remain at the same at 30,000 people a day.

The festival will make a further announcement about its 2024 program in January, including the Planet Talks line-up and additional artists.

“We’re pretty excited about this announcement,” Scobie said of today’s line-up, adding that the mixture of artists revealed so far reflected the programming approach for which WOMADelaide has traditionally been known. “It’s that mixture of discovery [encountering new or previously unknown artists] and meeting old friends.”

The list of artists announced today:

A.Girl (AUS)
Black Jesus Experience (ETHIOPIA/AUS)
Born in a Taxi – Illuminated Angels (AUS)
Bromham (AUS)
Bumpy (AUS)
The Cambodian Space Project (CAMBODIA/AUS)
Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul (BELGIUM)
Cie L’immédiat – La lévitation réele (FRANCE)
Compagnie On Off – Le Chant de L’eau (FRANCE)
Corinne Bailey Rae (UK)
CORPUS – Divine Intervention & Les moutons (FRANCE)
Cymande (UK)
Dean Brady (AUS)
Druid Fluids (AUS)
Elle Shimada (AUS)
Emel Mathlouthi (TUNISIA)
Emma Volard (AUS)
Erin Buku (AUS)
The Good Ones (RWANDA)
Jen Cloher + T’HONI (AUS/NZ)
Ju Ben (FIJI)
Katanga Junior (TANZANIA/AUS)
Lisa O’Neill & Cormac Begley (IRELAND)
Mari Kalkun (ESTONIA)
Marta Pereira da Costa (PORTUGAL)
MC Yallah & Debmaster (UGANDA/FRANCE)
Morcheeba (UK)
Rob Edwards (WOMADelaide x NSS Academy/AUS)
RoZéO – Gratte Ciel (FRANCE)
Slowmango (AUS)
Sofia Menguita (WOMADelaide x NSS Academy/AUS)
Tenzin Choegyal (TIBET/AUS)
Thee Sacred Souls (USA) Wildfire Manwurrk (AUS)
Ziggy Ramo (AUS)

The full line-up is available on the WOMADelaide website.

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