13 Dec 2021

Womad organisers refund about 500 tickets over vaccine mandate

8:04 pm on 13 December 2021

Organisers of the Womad festival in New Plymouth have returned about 500 early-bird tickets to people unwilling to show a Vaccine Pass to gain entry to the event.

The crowd at the Bowl Stage, WOMAD 2020

The crowd at the Bowl Stage in New Plymouth during Womad 2020. Photo: Isabella Brown

Early-bird tickets went on sale in August prior to details of the traffic light and Vaccine Pass systems being announced.

They brought with them a vaccination mandate for large-scale events.

Womad marketing and communications manager Rebecca Johnson said after the cancellation of this year's event it had been difficult refunding tickets to fans who had been coming to the festival for many years.

"We all agree that it's been incredibly tough with the vaccine mandate being rolled out and we certainly feel for a lot of our festival goers who unfortunately will not be able to be be at Womad for the first time in many years because they have chosen not to be vaccinated."

Johnson said, when it became clear that a Vaccine Pass would be required to enter the festival, Womad's organisers had no hesitation in offering refunds.

She said ultimately it was not a huge number in the big scheme of things.

"Out of the percentage of festival goers that had already pre-purchased tickets with us we have refunded about 4 percent of our festival ticket purchases at that time."

King Ayisoba performing at WOMAD 2020

King Ayisoba performing at Womad 2020 Photo: Isabella Brown

Womad has a capacity of about 14,000 on each of the three days it runs and tickets can be bought for one, two or three days.

Johnson would not reveal how many tickets had been sold for Womad 2022, which for the first time will feature an all New Zealand based line-up. But she said sales had not been as strong as hoped for.

"It's nowhere near where we'd like it to be yet. We'd like it to be a lot stronger. We were anticipating a sellout festival and we are definitely not at that point yet, but we are starting to see more people buy tickets and get confidence back that festivals and events are going to go ahead."

She said sales had started well.

"Our pre-sale when we went on sale in August was one of the strongest pre-sales we've had in a number of years, but with all the uncertainty about lockdowns, the [vaccine] mandate and looking at how the traffic light system has been implemented, you know, our festival goers are a bit more cautious or a bit more slower to commit to anything right now."

Johnson said early-bird ticketing had now been extended through to early January and that appeared to be making a difference.

"There's still an appetite for festivals out there and we're hoping people that in 2022 - a fresh year - that people will see how the first run of festivals go and how the new Vaccine Passport works and that's going to give people more confidence and be ready to go to festivals again."

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One of the food stalls at Womad 2020 Photo: Isabella Brown

Johnson said organisers were absolutely sure Womad 2022 would be one to remember for all the right reasons.

"Look we are all ready to bring Womad back. I think this is one of our strongest lineups we've had in a couple of years even without the internationals coming to the festival. By March people are going to be ready to celebrate and that's really what we want to do - celebrate music, arts and dance."

Womad New Zealand runs 18-20 March at the Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park in New Plymouth.

Headliners next year include Fat Freddy's Drop, Salmonella Dub, Ria Hall, LatinAotearoa and the Topp Twins among many many more.

Womad also includes the World of Words, a festival within a festival featuring notable author's, poets, thinkers and journalists, and the OMV Steam Lab where science communicators such as Dr Siouxsie Wiles take centre stage.

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