After two years in the making, Friday evening sees the Cardiff National Eisteddfod open to the public in Cardiff Bay. Billed as an experimental festival, combining the Bay’s iconic permanent buildings with the attractive temporary structures so-loved by Eisteddfod visitors, the Cardiff Eisteddfod is a clear sign of how much our national festival has developed and evolved over recent years.
Visiting Cardiff for the first time in ten years, the look and feel of this year’s festival is different to the Eisteddfod of 2008, held on Pontcanna Fields. With over 1,100 individual events and activities taking place over an eight-day period, there’s something for everyone – whatever their age – on this year’s Eisteddfod Maes.
A celebration of the Welsh language and culture of Wales, the aim of this year’s ‘fence-free festival’ is to give the widest audience possible a taste of what the language has to offer. But the welcome is just as warm whether you speak Welsh or not; organisers want everyone to have the chance to experience the best Welsh music, literature, drama, dance, visual arts, science and technology and much more.
Visitors will be encouraged to explore the Maes free of charge all day every day, with adults requiring a wristband to visit the Wales Millennium Centre where the competitions and ceremonies are held, together with some of the literary and drama events and activities. Y Lle Celf, Wales’ largest open visual arts exhibition is held in the impressive surroundings of the Senedd, and the attractive and bijou Norwegian Church will host a celebration of music by Welsh composers.
Say ‘Shw’mae Cymraeg’ as the iconic Pierhead Building becomes home to the centre for learning Welsh on the Maes, and the Roald Dahl Plass will be filled with the food village, open air stage and bars. The attractive yurt of Ty Gwerin will return to the Maes as do the tepees of Sinemaes and Caffi Maes B. Dance activities will be held in the beautiful surroundings of Portland House, Bute Street, and the hundreds of stands and stalls, which create the best shop window Wales has to offer the world will be dotted around the Bay and open all week.
Organisers may say that this is an experimental or urban festival, but in reality, the Maes area will be as friendly and welcoming as ever. So why not hop on the bus or train – the train station is literally on the Maes – and come down to explore one of the world’s greatest festivals for free, right on the doorstep here in Cardiff Bay.
The Eisteddfod runs from 3-11 August. For more information go to www.eisteddfod.wales.
Elfed Roberts, Eisteddfod Chief Executive said, “As a travelling festival which visits north and south Wales alternately, it’s important that people all over Wales have the chance to host this impressive national event in their own local area.
“The people of Cardiff have embraced this opportunity. We’ve seen so much support over the past two years, and it’s been great to see so many young people getting involved in the work of organising the event and the competitions.
“Now the organising is complete, we urge the people of Cardiff and Wales to join us in Cardiff Bay for a wonderful week. There really is something for everyone at the Eisteddfod, so take some time to study our website or app to see what’s on, and come down to the Bay to have a look at what’s going on.”
Ashok Ahir, Cardiff National Eisteddfod Executive Chair said, “It’s been an honour to lead a young and hard-working team over the past two years. We’ve managed to reach the Local Fund target by organising hundreds of community events bringing people together in so many different ways. Thank you to everyone who’s got involved in the work and now it’s a chance for us all to celebrate the success of the community project.
“I was determined that this Eisteddfod would be a chance to promote the language and culture of Wales across the city – an inclusive and accessible festival, a celebration of our wonderful capital city and country. So there’s an open invitation to everyone in Cardiff to join us down in the Bay from 3-11 August.”
1 Carnifal y Môr
Carnifal y Môr is part of the Year of the Sea celebrations, and is an ambitious project combining music with all kinds of visual arts elements and a colourful carnival procession through Cardiff Bay late on Saturday evening 4 August. Working with Butetown Carnival, artist Megan Broadmeadow has created a film which will be projected on to huge water screens in front of the Senedd building, with music by musician and film-maker, Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals). A spectacular celebration of how the sea has created the multicultural Cardiff of today. Catch it at 22:30, 4 August; free of charge.
Expect the unexpected as Wales’ newest supergroup, Pendevig, explode on to the Eisteddfod Pavilion stage on Thursday 9 August at 20:00. Join the huge party celebrating the resurgence happening in the Welsh folk scene, turning traditional Welsh music on its head with jazz, funk, drum’n’bass, rap, rock and pop influences. Tickets available from www.eisteddfod.cymru / 0845 4090 800.
3 Catch a Gorsedd Ceremony
Wales’ best poets and writers receive prizes for their work at the Eisteddfod. The Gorsedd of the Bards is responsible for these ceremonies, and they are colourful and unique events. The names of the winners remain secret until the very last moment when the winner stands alone in a crowded Pavilion at the call of the herald trumpets. Catch the free open air ceremonies at 11:00 in Roald Dahl Plass on Monday and Friday as new members are honoured, including rugby player Jamie Roberts, singer Geraint Jarman, and Assembly Presiding Officer, Elin Jones on the Friday morning.
4 Open Air Stage
The Welsh language pop and rock scene is on the crest of a wave at the moment, and all the top bands and performers will be at the Eisteddfod during the week- so make sure you don’t miss out. Local and national artists and bands perform on stage all day from midday onwards. Step back to the 90s with legendary party band Diffiniad in the popular Friday night slot. And catch the top band of the current scene, Candelas, as they close the festival on Saturday evening, celebrating the success of their latest album. Every day from 12:00; free of charge.