Aurelio (right) performs with his band during the Womad Festival at the Abu Dhabi Corniche beach on Friday. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Crowds tens of thousands strong filled up the Abu Dhabi Corniche during the World of Music, Art and Dance (Womad) Abu Dhabi's three-night run, which ended on Saturday.

This is the third edition of the festival, which is organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach). Simultaneous performances and activities also took place at Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain. Before the programme several participants took part in Womad beyond, an educational programme.

"This is the first time that we visited Womad [Abu Dhabi] and we've enjoyed every experience. Our children loved the workshops...we also had fun at the Taste of the World workshop. It was interesting to see and try out dishes from different countries," Roland Lopecillo, a Filipino expatriate who was at the festival with his wife and two children, said.

Throughout the three-day event, visitors watched multiple performances by artists from around the world, such as the Afro Celt Sound System (UK), El Tanbura (Egypt), LA-33 (Colombia), Tarab Al Emirati (UAE), Terem Quartet (Russia), The Dhol Foundation (UK/India) and the legendary Jamaican artist Dr Jimmy Cliff.

Russian artists

"I was pleasantly surprised to see artists from Russia this year as I don't think many Eastern European artists have performed at the festival before," Elaina Danilina, a Russian expatriate who visited the festival with her family, said. "I wish that more festivals like this take place in the UAE," she added.

Many activities were also available for festival-goers of all ages, ranging from workshops for the little ones to dance and music workshops for the adults, hosted by various festival performers.

"This is the first time we participated in Womad Abu Dhabi and we've received very positive feedback from our workshops. We also participated in the festival's Womad Beyond programme. That was a wonderful experience, the pupils were all very responsive and we had a lot of fun creating items with them," said David Cox, an artist based in the UK who has participated in Womad since 1986.

Another feature of Womad's festivals is the creation of site art by artists from around the world. For the Abu Dhabi version, Ndebele artists Angelina Ndimande and Marry Ann Mbonwayini Tjale, from South Africa created murals that decorated the entrance to the festival along with a live art creation.

"The designs we created are unique to each family, passed down through each generation...," said Ndimande who has been painting since she was 12.