Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod celebrated its 70th anniversary this summer and we were there to join in the festivities. Attracting musicians, singers and performers from across the globe, this staple of the Welsh calendar promised a wealth of entertainment and cultural immersion. Here’s how we got on…
The very first Eisteddfod was held in way back 1947. Following the end of the Second World War it was developed as a way of promoting lasting peace. Despite the hardships experienced in the immediate post-war era, organisers managed to raise the money needed to put on the now celebrated event. Ten foreign choirs joined 40 from the UK and the Eisteddfod was born. It is now tradition for local schools to support Children’s Day and deliver a message of peace to the festival.
Since then, over 300,000 competitors have graced the Eisteddfod stage, including the late, great Luciano Pavarotti, whose Modena choir travelled from Italy to win the prestigious Male Voice Choir competition in 1995. He returned many years later, in 1995, for a show-stopping concert.
The competition is a huge part of what makes the Eisteddfod special. Everywhere that we walked around the festival grounds we would come into contact with competitors. Many of them were adorned in bright and beautiful native dresses and accessories. This really lends a special and unique feeling to the whole event. Inside the competition arena one of our highlights was definitely watching a troupe of Indonesian dancers. They performed with traditional drums and the energy of the piece was just fantastic.
Out in the festival fields there was plenty to keep the kids engaged too. Dedicated children’s teepees and tents offered a wide variety of activities for all age groups. As well as taking the chance to make some festival goodies, our really kids loved the owl sanctuary stall that was REALLY interactive. It was so interactive that both our 3 year old and 1 year got chance to hold an owl. They haven’t stopped talking about it!
So, from craft sessions to circus skills, there really was something for everyone of every age. The circus skills area was another highly impressive section and the staff there were brilliant in getting people involved. And, despite our two being toddlers, they still managed to put me to shame when it came to spinning plates, as the video shows.
Food and Drink
To keep your stomach engaged there was a wide variety of quality food stalls and outlets there this year. This is something that festivals, on the whole, have upped their game on over recent years, so it was great to see that the Eisteddfod was also committed to providing such great grub. The paella that we had on Saturday afternoon was awesome and offered good value for festival money. I think next year they may need to organise another vegetarian stall to cut down on waiting times. The one that we saw seemed constantly to have rather a large queue, but punters were still coming away more than happy with the quality of the food itself.
Festival goers also have an option to purchase additional evening tickets at the Eisteddfod. This year, the likes of the Manic Street Preachers, Gregory Porter and Reverend and the Makers appeared to add a contemporary edge to the festival’s line-up which pleased fans of popular music. These were ably joined on the line up by more classical performances such as Sir Bryn Terfel, who was performing Tosca.
All in all, the Eisteddfod is a unique and special festival in the music calendar. It celebrates music from across the spectrum of genres, which is just amazing. Furthermore, its many international competitions really give it a worldly feel and atmosphere. On top of that, there’s more than enough to keep the kids happy. The fact that a family day pass (2 adults and 3 children) is just £26 is amazing! I’m positive that we’ll be back again in the future.
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