Rhythms of the World is a former street festival that evolved into being hosted at mansion priory grounds, while still maintaining its core aim of bridging the gap between age, race, economic stature and ability of those taking part.
The music and arts of every culture from all over the world playing an eclectic mix of reggae, dub, punk, rock, ska, country, trip-hop and dub step is on parade in the fields surrounding Hitchin Priory in North Hertfordshire, England every July.
This year punk rock legends The Damned appeared with the mercurial Captain Sensible performing classics like Neat Neat Neat and Little Miss Disaster. Also on show over the weekend were the outstanding vocal harmonies of Edgar Broughton and the gentle Jamaican rhythms of Little Roy, who grew up in the hardened ghettoes of Kingston with the likes of Peter Tosh and Prince Buster. There were the beat-boxing sounds of a five-piece all-female outfit called The Boxettes.
Arts and crafts and various wood carvings at ROTW 2012
Music went hand in hand with art and poetry and craft work. Setting up the many stages takes almost two weeks and all scaffolding and groundwork is carried out by an army of volunteers. This season saw a wet summer in Britain and this had softened the ground so badly a mud-fest was inevitable. This however did not prevent thousands queuing in between showers to get into the two-day festival arena.
There were so many people arriving from all over Britain the festival start time was delayed until 2pm with five bands being told they could not play this year. The organizers did lay on a free gig in Hitchin a couple of weeks later for those unfortunate acts and a promise they would be involved next year for sure. However, it was not just the music and arts that entertained everyone at ROTW 2012; the festival site was filled with culinary delights of world cuisine from Japanese tempura to Tibetans serving beef momo combo and phing sha (a sort of beef filling and potato stew with basmati rice). There were the usual delights of Indian curries on offer and Caribbean jerk chicken with dumplings.
ROTW provided 23,000 visitors a complete tour of the world where you could sample culture, cuisine and arts from all four corners of Mother Earth, set within just 20 acres of rolling Hertfordshire lawn; even the weather provided a rain storm, warm humid sunshine and overcast cloudy skies, all within the same day. If you cannot afford to take a trip around the world (and let's face it most of us can't) then stroll round ROTW one afternoon next July for just £10 ($16) and take a world tour in one afternoon.
Roy James Shakespeare
Fabulous clothing stalls sporting garments from around the world