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Eisteddfod comes to Abergavenny

The wait is over - there's just a day left before the National Eisteddfod opens in Abergavenny. Held during the first week of August every year (29 July – 6 August 2016), this 8-day festival is a celebration of the culture and language in Wales. The festival travels from place to place, alternating between north and south Wales, attracting around 150,000 visitors and over 250 trade stands and stalls.

The history of the Eisteddfod in Wales can be traced back to 1176, with the modern history of the organisation dating back to 1861.  The festival has been held every year, other than 1914, when the outbreak of the First World War saw it postponed for a year. It was last in Abergavenny in 1913, so it’s a rare opportunity to have this colourful festival on our doorstep.

The Eisteddfod is the natural showcase for music, dance, visual arts, literature, original performances and much more.  Encompassing all aspects of the arts and culture in Wales, it is an inclusive and welcoming festival, which attracts thousands of Welsh learners and those who do not speak the language, as well as Welsh speakers every year.  Translation services are available for many of the competitions, bilingual information is freely available and there is a special area for those interested in learning Welsh.

Most of Wales’ leading writers, musicians and poets have competed at the Eisteddfod, with many performers appearing on a national stage for the first time during the festival. Well-known performers who started out competing in the Eisteddfod include actor Ioan Gruffudd, bass-baritone Bryn Terfel and soprano Katherine Jenkins.

Traditionally a competition-based festival, it attracts over 6,000 competitors every year in the fields of music, singing, dancing, literature, poetry and art. While the competitions form the central focus for the week, the Maes (literally the ‘field’, pronounced ‘mice’) itself has grown and developed into a vibrant festival with hundreds of events and activities for the whole family.

Described as Wales’ leading mobile regeneration project, Eisteddfod week is the highlight of a two-year community project, bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds from a different part of Wales every year. Local singers have come together to form the official Eisteddfod choir that will perform in the festival, and many local people are volunteering as stewards.

It’s also a superb opportunity to showcase this beautiful part of Wales. Local businesses and tourist attractions are pulling out all the stops to ensure that the 150,000 visitors have a fantastic experience both at the Eisteddfod and while enjoying the other delights in the area. For anyone wishing to find some tranquillity, away from the buzz of the festival, we’re encouraging them to take a stroll along the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal to discover another aspect of the region’s heritage.

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