Spitshine your Docs, pull out your pork-pie hat and dust off your two-tone suit because British ska legends The Specials will be skanking up the stage at next year's Womad festival.

The pioneering seven-piece group who spearheaded the ska and rocksteady revival, meshing their wider political message with a danceable beat and bouncy groove, were one of Britain's most important bands in the late 70s and early 80s.

They had huge success with hits like A Message to You Rudy, Ghost Town and Free Nelson Mandela.

Their appearance, headlining the New Plymouth festival, will be their only New Zealand performance.

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The three-day Womad festival is held at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth and runs from March 17-19.

Womad will announce its full line-up on Tuesday October 18.