Pink pavilion

Eisteddfod essentials

The Cardiff Eisteddfod has now finished. Next year's Eisteddfod will take place in Bala, Gwynedd between August 1 - 8, 2009.

If you're completely foxed by what an eisteddfod actually is, take a look at our handy guide.

What's the cost of admission?

In 2008, day tickets to the Maes cost £12 for adults, £10 for pensioners, children's tickets cost £8 (12-18) and £3 (under 12).

What is it?

The National Eisteddfod is a big Welsh language cultural festival that takes place annually, alternating between north and south Wales. It's the largest cultural festival of its kind in Europe, and a key event in the Welsh calendar. Although events are conducted through the medium of Welsh, the festival itself attracts Welsh and English speakers. It is a mixture of daily talent competitions and evening concerts (performers in 2008 included Bryn Terfel, Connie Fisher and Cerys Matthews), gigs, plays and exhibitions. Competitions in the main pavilion vary from dance to recitation, singing to brass bands.

When does it happen?

The National Eisteddfod takes place annually during the first week of August, so this year, it was held between August 2 - 9, with the opening concert held in the main pavilion on the Maes on Friday evening, 1st August. 2009's Eisteddfod will take place in Bala, Gwynedd between August 1 - 8.

Where is it held?

In 2008, the Eisteddfod was held in Pontcanna fields, close to Cardiff's city centre. It was the first time in 30 years the festival had been in the capital, and the thirty year anniversary coincided with the City Council inviting the Eisteddfod to Cardiff as part of its bid to be 2008's European Capital of Culture. As it turned out, Liverpool won the title, but at least Cardiff guaranteed itself the Eisteddfod.

The National Eisteddfod is usually held slightly out of town because lots of space is needed. So, while, Pontcanna fields became the official 'Maes' (ground), nearby parking was an impossibility, and so a park and ride system was organised in the Leckwith area.

Who's it for?

Everyone's welcome; you'll receive a warm welcome at the Eisteddfod, regardless of whether or not you can speak Welsh. As a celebration of Welsh culture, Welsh is the official language of the Eisteddfod, but a translation service is available. As you arrive at the Maes, those who require a translating kit can pick one up for the day. You can still enjoy arts, crafts, music and dance and soak up the atmosphere, without an in-depth knowledge of the language.

What to expect

The Eisteddfod annually attracts on average more than 150,000 visitors a week. In 2008, there were a total of 156,697 across the week and in 2007, the Eisteddfod in Mold attracted 154,944. The main field is known as the Maes and the main pavilion is the hub of the festival where the music, dance, poetry and recitation competitions are held.

Competing in the pavilion draws to a close at around 4.30pm most afternoons for the main ceremonies to take place. These include: the Crowning (best work in free verse) on Monday, Daniel Owen memorial prize (best unpublished Welsh novel) on Tuesday, on Wednesday, the prose Medal, and Friday sees the chairing of the winning poet.

Around the Maes and beyond

There are also theatre, arts and crafts exhibitions, a literature pavilion, an area for Welsh learners to hone their language skills (Maes D), as well as trade stands and exhibitors. There are also plenty of food stalls on the Maes and for the last four years, a bar.

There are evening entertainments galore as part of the Eisteddfod - both in the pavilion and in other local venues. These include plays, concerts and performances by local groups. There are nightly events at 'Maes C' - the poetry and comedy area, and if it's bands you're after, head to 'Maes B'.

Maes D - the 'd' stands for dysgwyr (learners) - is the Welsh learners' pavilion on the Maes. Get involved by competing on the Maes D stage, or sit back and listen to music while practicing your language skills with other Welsh speakers, learners and tutors. At Maes D you can also find out more about Welsh courses and social activities for learners. For more information, go to the Big Welsh Challenge site.

Festival Photos


From the Maes

Images of the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.



2009's Eisteddfod

Results, news, stories, video clips and much more from Bala Eisteddfod 2009.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.