National Eisteddfod - Eisteddfod Genedlaethol

National Eisteddfod - Eisteddfod Genedlaethol

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. The Eisteddfod 2022 is in Tregaron, Ceredigion 30th July to 6th August. Eisteddfod 2023, Llŷn ac Eifionydd is in Boduan 5th to 12th August.

Eisteddfod
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History of the National Eisteddfod

The history of the Eisteddfod begins in Cardigan Castle in 1176 when it is said that the first Eisteddfod was held. Lord Rhys invited poets and musicians from all over Wales to a grand gathering at the castle. A chair at the Lord’s table was awarded to the best poet and musician, a tradition that continues today in the modern Eisteddfod.

The modern history of the Eisteddfod dates back to 1861. Since then, the Eisteddfod has been held every year, other than 1914, when the outbreak of the First World War saw it postponed for a year and more recently during the COVID pandemic in 2020/2021.

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.

Archdruid

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
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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).

Maes yr Eisteddfod

The Eisteddfod is held a large area of ground, known as the Maes. Here you find lots of stalls associated mainly with crafts, music, books and food. Music competitions and radio shows take place in the Theatr y Maes( the theatre on the Maes). There is also a societies tent, a literature tent and the very popular live music tent – only songs in Welsh can be performed. The learners tent is for teachers and students of the Welsh language.

Maes yr Eisteddfod

Each year, Welsh people from all over the world return to Wales to take part in a special welcoming ceremony staged during Eisteddfod week. The ceremony is organised by Wales International, an association of ex-patriates from all over the world.

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 update 2nd August 2022

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