Here’s a general information thread for anyone planning on attending the Welsh National Eisteddfod. I have gathered some information from the Eisteddfod website and added some extra. I hope it’s of help.
What it’s all about.
Held during the first week of August every year, the National Eisteddfod is a celebration of the culture and language in Wales.
The festival travels from place to place, alternating between north and south Wales, attracting around 150,000 visitors and over 250 tradestands and stalls.
The history of the Eisteddfod in Wales can be traced back to 1176, with the modern history of the organisation dating back to 1861. The festival has been held every year, other than 1914, when the outbreak of the First World War saw it postponed for a year.
Traditionally a competition-based festival, attracting over 6,000 competitors every year, the festival has developed and evolved over recent years, and whilst the competitions form the central focus for the week, the Maes (site) itself has grown and developed into a vibrant festival with hundreds of events and activities for the whole family.
The Eisteddfod is the natural showcase for music, dance, visual arts, literature, original perfomances and much more. Encompassing all aspects of the arts and culture in Wales, it is an inclusive and welcoming festival, which attracts thousands of Welsh learners and those who do not speak the language as well as Welsh speakers every year. Translation services are available in the Pavilion and bilingual information is available. We also have a centre for learning Welsh on the Maes.
Described as Wales’ leading mobile regeneration project, Eisteddfod week is the highlight of a two year community project, bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds from a different part of Wales every year.
With a mix of outreach work, lifelong learning and volunteering opportunities, the community project steers the preparations for the festival, giving local people a chance to make their mark on our national festival.
Most of Wales’ leading writers, musicians and poets have competed at the Eisteddfod, with many performers appearing on a national stage for the first time during the festival.
Tickets available from 1 April every year.
Full programme on-line from May.
No Welsh? No worries.
Everyone is welcome at the Eisteddfod, whatever language they speak. The Eisteddfod prides itself on the inclusive nature of the festival, and all our brochures and information on our website is fully bilingual. A large proportion of our regular visitors don’t speak Welsh or are looking to learn Welsh and we are here to help.
We have hundreds of activities onsite aimed at people of all ages – and language is no barrier to have a good time at the Eisteddfod. Our numerous stallholders cater for visitors wishing to speak Welsh or English, and all the Eisteddfod’s own signage and information around the Maes is bilingual to help you make the most of your visit.
We have a simultaneous translation service available free of charge in the Pavilion throughout the day, so all our visitors are able to enjoy all the proceedings. The headphones are available on the translators’ stand outside the Pavilion, and are clearly marked on the site map, and all other sessions across the Maes which are translated on the Maes are all identified with this logo in the activities booklet, online and on the onsite signage.
Some of our evening concerts are also translated, and these are identified in all our brochures and information. Ask staff in the Visitors’ Centre for more information.
Do I require a ticket for the Maes activities?
- You will require a day ticket attend events on the Maes.
- Tickets will be on sale from 01/05
- Early bird tickets will be available until 30/06
- There will be a ticket office located at the entrance for anyone who wishes to purchase a ticket on the day
- Tickets purchased in advance will be posted to your address, and any ticket purchased during Eisteddfod week can be collected on arrival
How can I book tickets for the Eisteddfod?
You can book tickets online or by ringing the ticketline – 0845 4090 800. (**Calls will cost up to 5p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. Non-BT customers and mobile phone users should contact their service providers for information about the cost of calls.)
A ticket office is based in the main entrance if you wish to buy tickets on the day itself.
Tickets bought before the beginning of festival week will be posted to your home address. Any tickets purchased in advance during the week will be available to pick up from the ticket office in the main entrance.
The ticketline is open 7 days a week: 7am - 6pm.
You can also book tickets online
If I have a day ticket, can I go to a concert/evening event?
- Day tickets do not give you access to any evening event or concert.
- However, you can stay on the Maes and enjoy the live music on the performance stage and the festival atmosphere until late into the evening.
- Some evening events will be individually ticket, but will be clearly stated.
This is my first Eisteddfod. Can you advise me what to see and do?
If this is your first visit, you’ve started in the right place with our website. Read as much as you can before coming to the Maes to get a feel for what to expect.
Why not join one of our free guided tours? These tours will take you around the Maes providing you with information about what happens in each of the buildings and will suggest some events for you during the day. A great way to start your day. Tours are available bilingually or in English.
You don’t need to book but if you are in a large group, let the team behind the information desk know.
When are the Gorsedd Ceremonies?
Gorsedd ceremonies begin at 16.30
Monday – Crowning Ceremony
Wednesday – Prose Medal Ceremony
Friday – Chairing Ceremony
Are there refreshments available on the Maes?
Yes. There is plenty of food on offer on the Maes. The food village specialises in all kinds of street food, catering for a wide range of tastes, from traditional home-cooked Welsh meals, to Mexican, vegan food, Indian food, pizzas and much more. A list of caterers will be available online soon.
Coffee bars and ice cream stands are also situated across the Maes.
There are also plenty of picnic tables around the Maes if you wish to bring your own food.
There is also a licenced restaurant onsite and you may reserve a table (for reservations of 6 or more) by ringing Capital Cuisine 0845 643 4673.
Can I buy alcohol on the Maes?
The Syched bar serves Welsh beer, ciders and wines, and the two main bars are located in the food village near the Open Air Stage. There is also a bar in the Literature Village.
Bringing alcohol onto the Maes is prohibited and the Eisteddfod reserves the right to search bags and to confiscate any alcohol recovered.
What happens in the evening at the Eisteddfod?
There are a wide range of activities available in the evening at the Eisteddfod. The Pavilion itself becomes a concert hall in the evening, with a wide range of high quality concerts.
Maes B is Wales’ largest Welsh language pop and rock festival, attracting over 20 bands every year.
Music continues on the Open Air Stage close to the food village until late into the evening, to which entry is free of charge with a valid day Maes ticket.
The Eisteddfod is an outdoor all weather event. Bring comfortable shoes for walking and standing around in - waterproof/mud-proof options may be a requirement in very wet weather, you just need to keep an eye on the forecast. A light showerproof jacket and umbrella are always useful. Light layers of clothes are also useful if the weather is changeable, plus the Maes can sometimes get a little windy as they tend to be located in fairly open areas.
An easy to carry, light rucksack/backpack can be useful to carry extra clothes, purchases, leaflets, maps etc. I also, always take a packet of tissues (in case the toilets have run out), a small bottle of sun-cream, a small bottle of hand sanitiser (again in case the toilets have run out) and a scrunched up plastic/bin bag for muddy wellies if the weather is bad.
In bad weather, there are often stalls selling wellies, umbrellas and sometimes rain jackets - not cheap, but good in an emergency. You also always have the option of sheltering in a stall/tent/pavilion. As with many other festivals, you will also find plastic ponchos in abundance on the Maes.
Note that the Maes will have steel walkways on the grass making life easier for prams, pushchairs and wheelchairs and generally less of a struggle underfoot if it gets muddy.
Though there are plenty of food options available of the Maes, it can get quite expensive, especially if you have a family to feed. If you are there for the week and are able to take a packed lunch sometimes, this can make your week a lot cheaper.