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  • Eisteddfod - Eisteddfod Genedlaethol

    What is the Eisteddfod?

    The Eisteddfod Today

    The National Eisteddfod of Wales is held each year during the first week of August and is a unique celebration of Welsh arts, language and culture. It does not have permanent location, it is held alternatively in North and South Wales. It the largest and oldest celebration of Welsh culture, and there is little comparable to it in the UK or Europe.

    It is a unique event and one of the major annual events in Wales. Jump to the History of the Eisteddfod, click here...

    National Eisteddfod - Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru

    The Eisteddfod is.

    • A cultural festival, held through the medium of Welsh, which provides a national stage for music, dance, the visual arts, original performances, family activities and all kinds of competitions, in a welcoming, fun and unique environment.
    • A festival which lasts for 8 full days at the beginning of August attracting over 150,000 visitors and 6,000 competitors.
    • A colourful Maes with a pavilion as the focus for the competing and the ceremonies, with hundreds of activities happening across the field.
    • A community project in a part of Wales which lasts for two years.
    • The location changes every year, alternating between north and south Wales.
    • Over 250 trade stands.

    The Welsh language is an integral and important part of the Eisteddfod, but the festival is much more than a Welsh language event. You don’t need to speak Welsh to get involved and make the most of the Eisteddfod’s visit, but why not find out more about how to offer a Welsh and bilingual service, and make the most of the help available to get you started?

    The Eisteddfod works in partnership with the Welsh Local Government Association to plan the festival’s locations over a number of years, working closely with the local authorities in the area for at least two years before the Eisteddfod is held. 

    The decision to visit an area is announced two years in advance, and the committees and fundraising structures are put in place and the local work begins. 


    Types of Eisteddfodau (Plural of Eisteddfod).

    There are many different types of Eisteddfodau held in Wales each year.

    • The most famous is the National Eisteddfod of Wales
    • Urdd Eisteddfod, which is held for young people in Wales, and the local eisteddfodau, which are held in communities throughout Wales
    • Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. An inspirational, international cultural festival to sing and dance in a unique combination of competition, performance, and international peace and friendship.
    • At a local level in Wales, there are hundreds of eisteddfodau similar to the larger eisteddfodau but on a much smaller scale.


    National Eisteddfod - Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru - Pavilion

    Eisteddfod Competitions

    The eisteddfod is a competitive event, and there are many different competitions held each year. Some of the most popular competitions include:

    • Poetry
    • Music
    • Dance
    • Art
    • Drama

    Competitors in the eisteddfod are judged by a panel of experts, and the winners are awarded prizes. The prizes are often cash prizes, but they can also be trophies, certificates, or other awards.

    The main highlight of the Eisteddfod is the Gorsedd of Bards ceremony. The Gorsedd is a group of poets, writers, musicians, and artists who are honored for their contributions to Welsh culture. During the ceremony, new members are initiated into the Gorsedd, and important literary and artistic awards are presented.


    Eisteddfod Events

    In addition to the competitions, the eisteddfod also features a wide range of events, including:

    • Concerts
    • Plays
    • Dance performances
    • Art exhibitions
    • Storytelling sessions

    The eisteddfod is a great opportunity to experience Welsh culture and heritage. It is a fun and family-friendly event, and it is sure to have something for everyone.


    National Eisteddfod - Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru - Gorsedd y Beirdd

    Eisteddfod in the Media

    The eisteddfod is a major cultural event in Wales, and it is often covered by the media. The BBC, S4C, and other media outlets broadcast the eisteddfod live, and they also feature stories about the event in their news coverage.

    The eisteddfod is also a popular topic for books, magazines, and websites. There are many books about the history of the eisteddfod, and there are also magazines and websites that focus on Welsh culture and heritage.


    National Eisteddfod - Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru - Pavilion Ceremonies

    History of the Eisteddfod

    The National Eisteddfod has a long history dating back to the 12th century with the first recorded Eisteddfod held in 1176 at Cardigan Castle. The eisteddfod's modern history dates back to 1861. It was founded by Lord Rhys ap Gruffudd, a Welsh prince, who wanted to promote the Welsh language and culture. The eisteddfod was a success, and it quickly became a popular event in Wales. The festival has been held every year, other than 1914, when the outbreak of the First World War saw it postponed for a year. 

    The eisteddfod was revived in the 18th century by the Gwyneddigion Society, a Welsh cultural organization based in London. In the 18th century, Iolo Morganwg, a Welsh poet and antiquarian. Morganwg added new elements to the eisteddfod, such as the Gorsedd of the Bards, a druidic order that celebrates Welsh culture and heritage.

    Today, the eisteddfod is one of the most important cultural events in Wales. It is held every year in a different part of Wales, and it attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. The eisteddfod features a wide range of competitions and events, including poetry, music, dance, art, and drama.

    Gorsedd y Beirdd - The Bards

    The Gorsedd was originally founded in 1792 by Edward Williams, also known as Iolo Morganwg. It was founded on Primrose Hill in London. Iolo named it "Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain". In later years it was renamed as Gorsedd Cymru. The official language of the Gorsedd is Welsh and all it's activities are carried out in the Welsh language.

    The Gorsedd of Bards first appeared at the Eisteddfod at the Ivy Bush Inn in Carmarthen in 1819. Ever sine that date, the Gorsedd has remained a fixture at each Eisteddfod. The Gorsedd is a group of men and women who have made a significant and distinguished contribution to Welsh language, literature, and culture. Its members, for example poets, writers, musicians and artists are known as Druids.


    The Archdruid is the head of the Gorsedd who is elected for a three year period. He or she, is responsible for conducting the three main ceremonies of the Eisteddfod week, namely the Crowning, Prose Medal and the Chairing. Each of these ceremonies are held to honour literary achievements among Welsh poets and writers.

    Gorsedd Stones - Cerrig yr Orsedd

    The Gorsedd Stones Circle are twelve standing stones constructed for each Eisteddfod. At the centre of the circle is the Logan Stone, which is flat-topped and acts as a stage. From this stone, the proclamation of the next Eisteddfod is announced by the Archdruid, one year before that Eisteddfod is held.

    They form an integral part of the Gorsedd ceremonies of each Eisteddfod. The stones can be found as commemorative structures throughout Wales and are the hallmark of the National Eisteddfod having visited a town, village or city.

    Gorsedd Stones (Welsh: Cerrig yr Orsedd) are groups of standing stones constructed for the National Eisteddfod of Wales
    Gorsedd Stones - Cerrig yr Orsedd - more All about Wales articles, click here...


    Gorsedd Ceremonies

    Each year there are six Gorsedd ceremonies.

    • Proclamation Ceremony: This ceremony must be held at least a year and a day before the start of the Eisteddfod.

    • Eisteddfod Week
      • Monday morning: The Gorsedd honours and welcomes new members. The ceremony is held on the Eisteddfod Maes.
      • Monday afternoon: The Crowning Ceremony - a poet receives the Crown for writing poetry in free verse
      • Wednesday afternoon: The Prose Medal Ceremony - a writer receives the Medal for writing a volume of prose.
      • Friday morning: This is an open-air ceremony if the weather is favourable, and a chance to welcome more new members to the Gorsedd.
      • Friday afternoon: The Chairing Ceremony - a poet receives the Chair for writing poems or an ode in strict metre (cynghanedd).

    Eisteddfod y Wladfa (Eisteddfod in Patagonia)

    There are several celebrations of Welsh culture throughout the year in Patagonia, but the largest is definitely the Chubut Eisteddfod, which takes place in Trelew, with traditional poetry, music and dancing among lots of other activities. This Eisteddfod started in the 1880’s and includes competitions in music, poetry and recitation in Welsh, Spanish and English. The winner of the best poem in Spanish receives a silver crown. The ceremony to honour the best poet in Welsh, the Bard, involves a religious ceremony asking for peace and health and involves the Chairing of the Bard in an ornate carved wooden chair.


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    Last updated 18th March 2024

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