Eisteddfod: an explosion of creativity and learning 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

In the heart of Wales, our National Eisteddfod takes centre stage every year. Celebrating the creativity & richness of Welsh language, arts, and culture, this unique event is a vibrant celebration that enriches our deep sense of community and inspires creativity and learning. Right up my street! Rooted in tradition, the originality and creativity experienced is truly breathtaking; art, science, craft, music, technology... all wrapped up in a huge bundle of family friendly fun!

Image credit: Catrin Ellis/Unsplash - Baner Cymru
Most schools in Wales host an annual Eisteddfod, at which pupils sing, recite poetry, read out stories they have written & have their art appraised. The categories depend on the size of the school and as children get older there are other competitions available such as cookery, acting and musical ability. School Eisteddfods lead on to local and regional Eisteddfods where the winners meet to battle it out and finally, there is the National Eisteddfod.

There can be a lot of nerves around the Eisteddfod and the tension in the room is sometimes high. Sometimes it gets too much and a child will get frustrated. A grown woman of 43, I nearly always tear up. After all, from the age of 4 years, our children stand up all alone on stage to sing their solo, recite their poetry, submit their artwork and creative writing and have it publicly judged. Not for wimps! Mine, along with about half of the kids, are doing it in their second language. A day of excitement, nerves and achievement, and useful for my growing repertoire of songs in Welsh. Like with many things, such as the Welsh language, finding the joy in every possible situation and coping with life's sadnesses, the kids teach me as much as I teach them (and there are a fair few things I hope they don't learn from me!)

The face of courage... da iawn ti!
Then there is the National Eisteddfod; an ancient festival that traces its origins back to the 12th century. Held annually in different locations across Wales, the festival showcases the country's and talent and nurturing a love for the Welsh language (Cymraeg).

        "Harps play. Children sing. The tension mounts, for nobody in that immense audience yet knows who is to be the recipient of all this honour. The winning poet is somewhere among them, but first he must be found. " Jan Morris

Image credit: Kate Dewmartin - Y Ddraig Goch
This year we attended the Llandovery festival as our eldest was dancing with his school on the Big Stage. For a small school of just 40 pupils they did extremely well to reach this level and a school bus was organised and funded by the local community. Parents and grandparents and friends filled the bus, there was a hair and make up section and a Lot of chatting and singing. Their wonderful dance teacher Mrs McLoughlin had choreographed a piece just for them called 'Elements' and their moving rendition of  Fire, Earth, Water and Air was, to this Mammy's eye, flawless. I wept buckets. My late mother would have been so very proud of him.  Mum died unexpectedly at the end of the second lockdown, having provided daily granny-school throughout the pandemic and giving our family the support we needed on all levels. 

St David's Day celebrations, daffodils, leeks and traditional costumes are everywhere !
The festival's centrepiece is the literary and musical competitions where participants compete in singing, dance, creative writing,  and instrumental performances. This friendly yet competitive spirit fosters an environment of excellence and encourages artists to hone their skills further.

Enjoying the Eisteddfodd, diolch ffrindiau!
And it’s such a great festival! science, art, craft, dance, music, all wrapped up in a Lot of fun. If you like learning and creativity, which CraftCourses is all about, then you will most probably appreciate the wonderful & cultural phenomenon event that is the Eisteddfod.

Chess Board artwork, Ysgol Sir Benfro

But the Eisteddfod is much more than just a series of competitions. It serves as a melting pot of Welsh culture, hosting concerts, theatrical performances, visual art exhibitions, and various interactive activities for visitors of all ages. Local craftspeople and vendors also flock to the event, adding a colourful market atmosphere with a diverse range of Welsh arts and crafts.
Wales is world renowned for its weaving and textile heritage.

Education is an essential element of Eisteddfod with endless hands on activities for learning how things work as well as the ways in which the Welsh culture, heritage, language and history has shaped the country we know today. In the Swansea University science marquee we looked at the blood of mice, frogs and humans, tested DNA and had a quick CPR lesson in the space of 20 minutes! 
Image credit: Kate Dewmartin - Eisteddfod is full of learning opportunities: 'corff dynol' (human body in Welsh)

Did you know that Wales is committed to generating 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035? Our younger generations will be a key part of delivering on that promise, and Eisteddfod gives them the chance to learn more about their cleaner future, such as by making electricity with pedal power.
Pedal power making electricity at the Llandovery Eisteddfod 2023

At the heart of the Eisteddfod is the iconic 'Pavilion,' where the main ceremonies take place. Here, the crowning of the 'Bard,' the festival's highest honour awarded for the best collection of poetry, marks the pinnacle of the celebration. Witnessing this prestigious ceremony, amid the cheers and applause, is a moving experience, reflecting the enduring spirit of Welsh identity. Cymraeg, as I am learning every day, is one of the most poetic as well as ancient languages; there is so much elegance and humour in the turns of phrase, mixed with utter down-to-earth simplicity and a straight-talking, no nonsense attitude. No wonder poetry is high on the agenda. 
Y Pafiliwn / The Pavilion, Eisteddfod

The National Eisteddfod is a 'bendigedig' (fantastic) tapestry of Welsh heritage, where tradition and modernity unite to celebrate the nation's unique cultural identity. It is an occasion for Wales to shine, embracing its past while embracing the future through the arts, literature, and music.
Music - an essential part of Eisteddfod

As the Eisteddfod continues to evolve and adapt, it remains a source of pride for the Welsh people, fostering unity and inspiring the next generation to cherish their heritage.
Image credit: Pixabay

Whether you are a devoted patron of the arts or merely a curious traveller, experiencing the National Eisteddfod is an unforgettable journey into the soul of Wales. As you immerse yourself in the magic of this extraordinary festival, the spirit of Welsh culture leaves an indelible mark on your heart.
Eisteddfod - community coming together

Dewch i ymweld a gwlad cestyll a dreigiau (come and visit the land of castles and dragons)!

Image credit: Callum Parker/Unsplash
The National Eisteddfod 2023 is on from 5th - 12th August at Boduan in Gwynedd. 

The National Eisteddfod 2024 will be held in the South Wales Valleys town of Pontypridd... why not come along! 

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