All roads lead to Rhythms of the World

With all roads leading to Hitchin this weekend, the wait is almost over for this year’s Rhythms of the World festival.

Hundreds of musicians are making their way across the globe (and from nearer to home) to turn the ancient grounds of The Priory into a massive two-day celebration of music of all kinds.

From Gambian trance to Birmingham bhangra; pioneering punks to hip-hop; indie-rock to beat box, as well as jazz, blues, reggae, Latin, Cuban, folk, classical, gospel, dubstep, jive and rockabilly – there is truly something for everyone across the seven stages.

Among the many highlights are MOJO magazine 2011 world music album of the year award winners Juju – mixing up traditional West African instruments with jazz (Main Stage, Sat 8.15pm), Mercury Music Prize winning poetic and powerful rapper Speech Debelle (Main Stage, Sun 6.30pm), as well a Mercury nominees – inventive indie rockers The Young Knives. And see Bellatrix - the global girl beatbox champ in The Boxettes (Main Stage, Sat 3.45pm)

For all those punks old and new out there The Damned headline the Nettlebed Stage on Saturday (8.30pm), and catch an impassioned blast at the Nettlebed from Britpop’s Inspiral Carpet Tom Hingley beforehand from 5pm. For reggae fans the mighty Nirvana-inspired Little Roy replaces Police and Thieves star Junior Murvin (who broke his leg) on the Main Stage on Sunday (7.45pm) while former account turned music legend DJ Derek is unmissable uplifting fun on Sunday (5pm) on The Priory Park Stage.

There really is no other festival like it in the UK - it’s completely voluntarily run and therefore only costs a tenner – so if you see someone helping out give them a hug or at least a big smile.

Advance tickets at �10 per day for adults and �5 for youths (six to 17) are still available online at www.rotw.org.uk, and at Harvest Moon, Merryfield’s Newsagent, Hitchin Initiative, Club85 and The Victoria in Hitchin, David’s Music in Letchworth and Coda Music in Stevenage Old Town.

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For festival director Steve Smither’s view on what he is looking forward to seeing and hearing at the festival, go to page 45 in this week’s Comet.

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