16 Reasons to Visit the Urdd Eisteddfod
Looking for something to do over half term? There’s something for everyone at the Urdd Eisteddfod.
1. Urdd Gobaith Cymru is the largest organisation for children and young people in Wales, and the Urdd Eisteddfod is one of the highlights of its annual calendar, as well as one of Europe's largest youth festivals.
2. The first Eisteddfod was held 90 years ago in Corwen over a period of two days, but the festival now extends over a whole week.
3. In the early days, a few thousand people visited the Eisteddfod every year, but more than 85,000 people have visited the Eisteddfod in recent years.
4. Entry to the maes is FREE for everyone this year – an opportunity for anyone who wishes to enjoy the excitement, stalls and performances, with the views of Cardiff Bay providing a magnificent backdrop to the whole event.
5. Not really one for performing? Well, don't worry – there's something for everyone at the Urdd Eisteddfod: a sports village, the GwyddonLe science pavilion and the Art, Design and Technology exhibition in the Senedd to name but a few.
6. If you're a fan of the competing side, you won't be disappointed with the talent on display every year on the Eisteddfod stage. This year, everyone who makes it through to the main stage will be performing on the Donald Gordon Theatre stage at the Wales Millennium Centre. You can purchase a wristband to gain access to all the preliminary and main competitions (these wristbands are free for children and competitors). A number of successful actors such as West End star Amber Davies have started their careers on the Urdd stage, and some of this year's winners will doubtless be familiar names in years to come.
7. Towards the end of the week, you can watch the competitions eligible for the Bryn Terfel Scholarship. The scholarship has been awarded for 20 years now, and Sir Bryn Terfel's support for the Eisteddfod is testament to the exceptional standards that are on display on stage every year.
8. Not a Welsh speaker? It doesn't matter! Everyone is welcome at the Eisteddfod, and if you want to learn Welsh or practice your skills, this is the perfect opportunity to do just that! You can meet learners and other Welsh speakers in the Pierhead building, and you can practice your Welsh every day while exploring the maes.
9. Speaking of learners, two prizes will be awarded this year to individuals who are committed to learning Welsh: the Bobi Jones Medal will be awarded to a young person aged between year 10 and under 19 years old, and the Learners Medal to an individual aged between 19 and under 25 years old. You can see it all happen in the pavillion.
10. These are not the only major prizes on offer at the Eisteddfod. With your wristbands, you can watch the ceremonies for the Chair, the Crown, the Drama Medal and more in the Donald Gordon Theatre every day. You can also watch these ceremonies on S4C, but better still is being in the pavilion itself, waiting to see who arises upon the sound of the fanfare!
11. The Urdd Eisteddfod is the perfect opportunity to fill your autograph books! There are a load of Welsh celebs at the Urdd Eisteddfod every year, and the maes is just a stone's throw away from the studios of Pobl y Cwm and Cyw, so there will be plenty of opportunities for selfies this year!
12. The maes will be full of performers from the Welsh rock scene this year, given that free gigs will be played throughout the week on several stages. Some of Wales' leading bands, such as Gwilym, Al Lewis, Band Pres Llarregub and Kizzy Crawford (to name a mere handful) will be performing throughout the week on the festival stages.
13. Should you visit the Eisteddfod this year, you should also drop by at the Senedd to meet Members of the Welsh Youth Parliament. Members will be volunteering on our stall every day, and they will be available to chat about the things that matter to you. You will also have the opportunity to take part in the first Youth Parliament consultation, which will examine Skills for Life in the Curriculum. Unsure about which day to pay a visit? On Thursday afternoon, there will be a Q&A session in the Senedd with Elin Jones, the Assembly's Llywydd (Presiding Officer), along with the Children's Commissioner for Wales and Members of the Welsh Youth Parliament.
14. While the Llywydd is out enjoying the excitement of the Eisteddfod, you will have the chance to venture into the Chamber and have your photo taken in her chair! Generally, there is no public access to the Chamber at all, so you should take advantage of this opportunity while you can.
15. Looking for a pair of new sunglasses? Need a refillable water bottle? Used all the ink in your pens during your exams? The Eisteddfod is the ideal place for freebies – you'll find them on most stalls if you spend any time finding out about the work that the organisations do and the services that they offer.
16. And finally, if you are coming to the Eisteddfod to compete, hopefully you won't be disappointed! Remember that taking part is the important thing, and if you don't make it to the main stage, that's a perfect excuse for you to run straight to the fair with your friends.