National Eisteddfod of Wales

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National Eisteddfod Of Wales
Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru
Eisteddfod logo
2003 National Eisteddfod from afar
A view of the Pafiliwn (Pavilion) for the 2003 National Eisteddfod, held at Meifod, Powys
Status active
Genre cultural, music, poetry
Frequency 1st week of August
Location(s) multiple
Country  Wales1
Established 1861; 156 years ago (1861)
Participants 6,000
Attendance 160,000
Website
www.eisteddfod.org.uk

1 The festival has occasionally been held in England in the past.

Pronunciation of 'Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru'


The National Eisteddfod of Wales (Welsh: Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru) is the most important of several eisteddfodau (festivals) that are held annually, mostly in Wales. Its eight days of competitions and performances are considered the largest music and poetry festival in Europe.[1] Competitors typically number 6,000 or more, and overall attendance generally exceeds 150,000 visitors.[2]

History[edit]

An advertisement for the Grand National Eisteddfod at Caernarvon, 1877

The National Museum of Wales says that "the history of the Eisteddfod may [be] traced back to a bardic competition held by the Lord Rhys in Cardigan Castle in 1176"[3], and Local Eisteddfodau have certainly been held for many years prior to the first national Eisteddfod. There have been multiple Eisteddfodau held on a national scale in Wales, such as the Gwyneddigion Eisteddfod of 1789; 228 years ago (1789), the Provincial Eisteddfodau from 1819-1834,[4] and the Abergavenny Eisteddfodau of 1835-1851,[5][6][7] and The Great Llangollen Eisteddfod of 1858[8], but the National Eisteddfod of Wales as an organisation traces its history back to the first event held in 1861, in Aberdare.[9][10]

One of the most dramatic events in Eisteddfod history was the award of the 1917 chair to the poet Ellis Humphrey Evans, bardic name Hedd Wyn, for the poem Yr Arwr (The Hero). The winner was announced, and the crowd waited for the winner to stand up to accept the traditional congratulations before the chairing ceremony, but no winner appeared. It was then announced that Hedd Wyn had been killed the previous month on the battlefield in Belgium. These events were portrayed in the Academy Award nominated film Hedd Wyn.

In 1940, during the Second World War, the Eisteddfod was not held, for fear that it would be a bombing target. Instead, the BBC broadcast an Eisteddfod radio programme, and the Chair, Crown and a Literature Medal (as opposed to the usual Prose Medal) were awarded.[11]

In 1950 a new rule was created that required all competitions to be held in Welsh. However, settings of the mass in Latin are allowed and this has been controversially used to allow concerts featuring international soloists.[12]

In recent years efforts have been made to attract more non-Welsh speakers to the event, with the officlal website stating "everyone is welcome at the Eisteddfod, whatever language they speak". The Eisteddfod offers bilingual signage and simultaneous-translation of many events though wireless headphones. There is also a Welsh-learners area called Maes D. These efforts has helped increase takings, and the 2006 Eisteddfod reported a profit of over £100,000, despite costing £2.8m to stage. The Eisteddfod attracts some 160,000 people annually. The National Eisteddfod in Cardiff (2008) drew record crowds, with over 160,000 visitors attending.

It is proposed that the 2018 National Eisteddfod in Cardiff will use permanent buildings to host events rather than in the traditional Maes and tents. This is due partially to a lack of suitable land that can be repaired affordably after the festival. It has been billed as an "Eisteddfod with no fence" in the media and is planned to take place at Cardiff Bay.[13][14][15] The Eisteddfod of 2019 is planned to return to the traditional Maes.

Attendance[edit]

(incomplete))

year total attendance profit/loss
2002 144,220 -
2003 176,402
2004 147,785 -
2005 157,820 -
2006 155,437 +£100,000
2008 >160,000 -
2009 184,347 -
2010 136,933[16] -£47,000
2011 148,892[17], -£90,000
2012 138,767[18] +£50,000
2013 153,704[19], +£76,000
2014 >140,000[20], +£90,000
2016 130,000[21]

Overview[edit]

The chairing ceremony of the 1958 National Eisteddfod; the victorious poet was T. Llew Jones
The solar-powered car Gwawr ("Dawn"), the Welsh entry in the October 2007 Darwin-Adelaide Trans-Australia competition, is an example of what can be exhibited on the Eisteddfod Maes (Arena). (Mold, 2007)

The National Eisteddfod is traditionally held in the first week of August, and the competitions are all held in the Welsh language. However, settings of the mass in Latin are allowed and this has been controversially used to allow concerts featuring international soloists.[22]

The venue is officially proclaimed a year in advance, at which time the themes and texts for the competitions are published. The organisation for the location will have begun a year or more earlier, and locations are generally known two or three years ahead. The Eisteddfod Act of 1959 allowed local authorities to give financial support to the event. Traditionally the Eisteddfod venue alternates between north and south Wales; the decision to hold both the 2014 and 2015 Eisteddfodau in South Wales was thus seen as controversial,[23] but the decision was later reversed and Montgomeryshire named as host county for 2015.[24] Occasionally the Eisteddfod has been held in England, although the last occasion was in 1929; this is noted in italics in the following table of past locations.[9]

Hundreds of tents, pavilions and booths are erected in an open space to create the maes (field). The space required for this means that it is rare for the Eisteddfod to be in a city or town: instead it is held somewhere with more space. Car parking for day visitors alone requires several large fields, and many people camp on the site for the whole week.

The festival has a quasi-druidic flavour, with the main literary prizes for poetry and prose being awarded in colourful and dramatic ceremonies under the auspices of the Gorsedd of Bards of the Island of Britain, complete with prominent figures in Welsh cultural life dressed in flowing druidic costumes, flower dances, trumpet fanfares and a symbolic Horn of Plenty. However, the Gorsedd is not an ancient institution or a pagan ceremony but rather a romantic creation by Iolo Morganwg in the 1790s, which first became a formal part of the Eisteddfod ceremonial in 1819[25]. Nevertheless, it is taken very seriously, and an award of a crown or a chair for poetry is a great honour. The Chairing and Crowning ceremonies are the highlights of the week, and are presided over by the Archdruid. Other important awards include the Prose Medal (cy) (first introduced in 1937).

If no stone circle is there already, one is created out of Gorsedd stones, usually taken from the local area. These stone circles are icons all across Wales and signify the Eisteddfod having visited a community. As a cost-saving measure, the 2005 Eisteddfod was the first to use a temporary "fibre-glass stone" circle for the druidic ceremonies instead of a permanent stone circle. This also has the benefit of bringing the Gorsedd ceremonies onto the maes: previously they were often held many miles away, hidden from most of the public.

As well as the main pavilion with the main stage, there are other venues through the week. Some are fixtures every year, hosting gigs (Maes B/Llwyfan y Maes/Caffi Maes B). Other fixtures of the maes are the Pabell Lên (literature pavilion), the Neuadd Ddawns (dance hall), the Pabell Wyddoniaeth a Thechnoleg (science and technology pavilion), Maes D (learners' pavilion), at least one theatre, Y Cwt Drama (the drama hut), Tŷ Gwerin (folk house), Y Lle Celf ("the art place") and hundreds of stondinau (stands and booths) where groups, societies, councils, charities and shops exhibit and sell. Since 2004, alcohol has been sold on the maes; previously there was a no-alcohol policy.

Poetry awards[edit]

The Eisteddfod's most well-known awards are those for poetry

Chairing of the Bard[edit]

This has been awarded since the first Eisteddfod in

Crowning of the Bard[edit]

Welsh-language Album of the Year[edit]

In 2014 the Eisteddfod began to award a Welsh-language Album of the Year from its Maes B event.[26]

Year Nominations Winner
2014 Alaw – Melody
Bromas - Byr Dymor
Candelas - Candelas
DnA - Adnabod (Fflach Tradd)
Gildas - Sgwennu Stori
Gwenan Gibbard - Cerdd Dannau
Llwybr Llaethog - Dub Cymraeg
Plu
The Gentle Good - Y Bardd Anfarwol
Yr Ods - Llithro
The Gentle Good - Y Bardd Anfarwol[27]
2015 9 Bach – Tincian
Al Lewis – Heulwen o Hiraeth
Candelas – Bodoli’n Ddistaw
Datblygu – Erbyn Hyn
Fernhill – Amser
Gwenno - Y Dydd Olaf
Yws Gwynedd - Codi/\Cysgu
Geraint Jarman - Dwyn yr Hogyn Nol
Plu – Holl Anifeiliaid y Goedwig
R Seiliog - In HZ

Gwenno - Y Dydd Olaf[28]

2016 Anian – 9 Bach
Alun Gaffey - Alun Gaffey
Band Pres Llareggub – Mwng
Brython Shag - Brython Shag
Calan – Dinas
Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog – IV
Datblygu – Porwr Trallod
Plu – Tir a Golau
Sŵnami - Sŵnami
Yucatan – Uwch Gopa’r Mynydd[29]
Sŵnami - Sŵnami[30]
2017 Band Pres Llareggub – Kurn
Bendith - Bendith
Calan – Solomon
CaStLeS – Fforesteering
Gwilym Bowen Rhys – O Groth y Ddaear
Meinir Gwilym – Llwybrau
Mr Huw – Gwna Dy Feddwl i Lawr
Ryland Teifi – Man Rhydd
The Gentle Good  – Ruins / Adfeilion
Yws Gwynedd – Anrheoli[31]
Bendith - Bendith[32]

National Eisteddfod venues[edit]

[35]

  • 2019 - Conwy

The Eisteddfod has visited all the traditional counties of Wales. It has visited five of the six cities in Wales: Bangor, Cardiff, Newport, St David's and Swansea; but has never visited St Asaph.

County 19th century 20th century 21st century Total
(1861–2017)
Flag of Anglesey.svg Anglesey 0 4 1 4
Flag placeholder.svg Brecknockshire 1 2 0 3
Flag of Caernarfonshire.png Caernarfonshire 11 15 1 27
Flag of Ceredigion.svg Cardiganshire 1 6 0 7
Flag placeholder.svg Carmarthenshire 2 9 2 13
Cheshire Flag.svg Cheshire 3 1 0 4
Flag placeholder.svg Denbighshire 4 14 3 21
Flintshire Flag.png Flintshire 3 6 1 10
Glamorgan Flag.svg Glamorgan 8 24 3 35
Flag of Lancashire.svg Lancashire 2 1 0 3
Flag of Merioneth.svg Merioneth 1 4 1 6
Flag of Middlesex.svg Middlesex 1 1 0 2
Flag of Monmouthshire.svg Monmouthshire 1 5 3 9
Flag placeholder.svg Montgomeryshire 0 3 2 5
Flag of Pembrokeshire.png Pembrokeshire 0 3 1 4
Flag placeholder.svg Radnorshire 0 1 0 1

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Williams, Sian. "Druids, bards and rituals: What is an Eisteddfod?". BBC. Retrieved 2 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Berry, Oliver; Else, David; Atkinson, David (2010). Discover Great Britain. Lonely Planet. p. 272. ISBN 978-1-74179-993-4. 
  3. ^ https://museum.wales/collections/eisteddfodau/
  4. ^ https://museum.wales/collections/eisteddfodau/provincial/
  5. ^ https://museum.wales/collections/eisteddfodau/abergavenny/
  6. ^ "Welsh National Eisteddfodau". Genuki. 23 February 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "History of the Welsh Eisteddfodau". National Museum Wales. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  8. ^ https://museum.wales/collections/eisteddfodau/national/llangollen-1858/
  9. ^ a b "Past locations". National Eisteddfod of Wales. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Eisteddfod: 1861–1885". National Eisteddfod of Wales. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "Lleoliad yr Eisteddfod: Eisteddfod Radio" (in Welsh). BBC. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  12. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/eisteddfod-latin-in-language-loophole-2198426
  13. ^ https://eisteddfod.wales/2018-eisteddfod/2018-eisteddfod
  14. ^ http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/hundreds-parade-2018-national-eisteddfod-13235195
  15. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-33813043
  16. ^ http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/eisteddfod_2010/8320455.EISTEDDFOD__Festival____raised_valleys____profile___/
  17. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/national-eisteddfod-2015-results-friday-9815399
  18. ^ https://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/en/our_council/Council-Structure/minutes,_agendas_and_reports/reports/scrutiny_ee/2012/12-11-06/national_eisteddfod.aspx
  19. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/national-eisteddfod-2015-results-friday-9815399
  20. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/national-eisteddfod-2015-results-friday-9815399
  21. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/130000-people-flocked-2016-national-11714843
  22. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/eisteddfod-latin-in-language-loophole-2198426
  23. ^ a b c d e "Prifwyl: Torri'r traddodiad symud?". BBC (in Welsh). 1 July 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  24. ^ Site for the Eisteddfod until 2016 at BBC Wales, 8 July 2010
  25. ^ https://museum.wales/collections/eisteddfodau/
  26. ^ https://eisteddfod.wales/gentle-good-wins-welsh-language-album-year-prize
  27. ^ https://eisteddfod.wales/gentle-good-wins-welsh-language-album-year-prize
  28. ^ https://eisteddfod.wales/node/2724
  29. ^ https://eisteddfod.wales/welsh-language-album-year
  30. ^ https://eisteddfod.wales/swnami-win-years-welsh-language-album-year
  31. ^ https://eisteddfod.wales/anglesey-2017/welsh-language-album-year-2017
  32. ^ https://eisteddfod.wales/bendith-win-welsh-language-album-year-award
  33. ^ Delight over Eisteddfod 2010 plans at WalesOnline News, 14 August 2008
  34. ^ Eisteddfod 2010 at the National Eisteddfod website
  35. ^ https://eisteddfod.wales/about-us/past-locations

External links[edit]