An Events Guide To the National Eisteddfod

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This year’s Eisteddfod is going to quite different. You won’t need to sell a kidney to pay an entrance fee to the Maes. You won’t need wellies to tread from stall to stall in a muddy field. And you won’t have sweat dripping on your head from the ceiling of the Mae B tent; you can dance this year in a location that once housed the Daleks.

The Welsh National Eisteddfod has returned to Cardiff after ten years. It will be hosted in the iconic Bay area, and it’s FREE to get in. But what is an Eisteddfod, and what do you do once you get there? The Sprout is here to help with answers to your burning questions.

What is the Eisteddfod?

According to that highly reputable source Wikipedia (the founder is called Jimmy Wales, after all), an Eisteddfod means to “sit” and to “be”. This is really poetic, which is fitting because this is a festival of music, poetry and so on and so forth. Crucially though, Eisteddfodau have a competitive element- there are most certainly winners and losers.

There are many Eisteddfodau, but only one National Eisteddfod. This one happens every year, celebrates the culture of the entirety of Wales, and is the biggest festival of its kind in Europe. The National’s first appearance in Cardiff was in 1883.

Probably the most famous winner at the National Eisteddfod is Hedd Wyn, real name Ellis Evans. He won with a groundbreaking bit of poetry in 1917 but by the time the prize was announced he had been killed, along with many others, fighting in World War 1.

As well as the National Eisteddfod, another notable event is the Urdd Eisteddfod, or youth Eisteddfod, which is itself slated to come to Cardiff in 2019.

What do you do there?

There will be concerts, comedy, literature, quizzes, food, carnivals, films, theatre, poetry, competitions and much, much more. Generally, a lot of the Eisteddfod is delivered “yng Nghymraeg” (in Welsh).

Here are just some of the events to look out for during the week:

  • Newport College of Art’s 1968 film After Many A Summer: The changing face of Tiger Bay, which will be screened as part of the Contemporary Art Society of Wales’ 80th anniversary exhibition.
  • Christian Aid Cymru is doing an escape room, and they’re looking for volunteers!
  • Crazy science activities from how to build a boat, to turning the tide on plastic; take a look at the timetable.
  • Wales on the Map Quiz: Test your knowledge of Wales
  • Carnifal Y Môr (The Sea Carnival): Colourful and lively music
  • Code your very own racing or diving game at the Science and Technology Village with the DVLA!
  • Write your own zine with Y Selar magazine
  • Cartooning with Huw Aaron, Mellten cartoonist and one of Wales’ best-known Welsh-language cartoonist
  • BBC Radio Cymru stage: a non-stop cavalcade of your favourite bands and artists from the Welsh music scene

As we mentioned, it’s free, so you have nothing to lose by heading down to the Bay next week to see the sights.

Additional information

There are over 1,000 activities happening across the week, some free, some you have to pay. Search all the events here, or download the Pocket Programme here.

To see where all the different locations are, click here.

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