North East Wales

Llangollen International Eisteddfod aims to attract young

The new musical director of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod has spoken of his plans to attract more visitors, particularly the young.

Eilir Owen Griffiths says he especially wants to encourage youth groups and children for the Denbighshire event.

Performers have in previous years often had problems getting visas.

Organisers say demand for visas due to the Olympics may have had an impact this year, although Mr Griffiths said competitor numbers are similar to 2011.

This year's festival will feature a new show choirs competition as well as a gig at the town railway station, and a "Llanfest" day.

Up to 4,000 musicians and performers are expected over the six days.

"Long term I've put in a new syllabus for 2013 which reflects a little bit more of my vision when it comes to youth groups and children here at the Eisteddfod, because they are really the future of the event," said Mr Griffiths.

"Added to that there are plans to look at the field here and to try to get more people here during the day."

New initiatives this week are a show choir competition, and the Eisteddfod taking over the railway station on Friday night.

"There will be folk music down there and the carriages can become places where people can sit and have a drink and watch the bands," Mr Griffiths added.

Another new feature is Llanfest on Sunday, which Mr Griffiths described as an event for local people featuring local bands and artists.

He also said the festival was now on a more sure financial footing.

"We launched very early with the concerts and it's made a great difference to our future. It meant we had money in the bank before Christmas which is vitally important to us," Mr Griffiths said.

More than 4,000 musicians and performers from about 50 nations are expected in Llangollen this year.

Sir Terry Waite, the president of Llangollen International Eisteddfod, says it "often better known overseas than it is in the United Kingdom".

One event later in the week features a concert including a 200-strong choir.

TV choirmaster Gareth Malone said the organisers' work had elevated choral music's status globally.

Mr Malone, best known for BBC Two series The Choir, is guest of honour at the festival finale on Sunday featuring Welsh opera singer Wynne Evans.

The festival starts officially on Tuesday afternoon with a parade of competitors starting at the show field at Llangollen International Pavilion at 16:30 BST.

Image caption Children have been a big part of the festival since it began in 1947

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