It’s Saint David’s Day

 

March 1 is one of the most colourful days of the year here in Wales. You’ll see bright yellow daffodils, green leeks and children in traditional dress (black chimney hats and red shawls) as the whole country comes together to celebrate Saint David, our patron saint. If you want to get in with the locals, there are few better ways than sharing a friendly Dydd Gwŷl Dewi (Sant) hapus (or simply say Happy Saint David’s Day if the Welsh seems a bit daunting).

Saint David in a nutshell

St David's Cathedral in St Davids, Pembrokeshire

St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire by seentwistle
There are plenty of stories about Saint David (Dewi Sant in Welsh), though it can be hard to separate legend from fact. He’s reputed to have travelled widely, with some saying he made it all the way to Jerusalem where he became an archbishop. He eventually established a strict religious community in what is now St Davids in south-west Pembrokeshire and became known both for his pious austerity and his ability to perform miracles. Most famously, he is said to have caused the ground to rise up beneath his feet while preaching at Llandewi Brefi, so that all in the audience could hear his sermon. 

Saint David today

Performers dressed as dragons, forming part of the St Davids Day parade as it passes Cardiff Castle

St Davids Day Parade 2014, Cardiff by Simon.Matthews
Almost 900 years after he was pronounced a saint, St David’s Day is the unmissable highlight of spring in Wales. The National St David’s Day Parade sends a red and yellow carnival across the centre of Cardiff, as local people mingling with featuring fiery performances from giant dragons and theatrical groups. It all ends up in front of Cardiff’s grand neoclassical city hall, where the crowd joins together in a rousing mass rendition of our national anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. It’s not just the capital that gets in the act. You’ll find processions and celebrations in towns across the country.

Naturally, there’s plenty happening in St Davids itself. There are a range of events at St Davids Cathedral, including bellringing and special choral services. There’s also a pilgrims’ walk, leading you in footsteps of saints from ancient St Non’s Chapel through the town’s streets and down to the Cathedral. While you’re in the neighbourhood, pay a visit to the magnificent St Davids Bishop’s Palace, which stands right next to the Cathedral. This grand medieval building designed by Bishop Henry de Gower illustrates just how much power religious leaders once held here. 

There are events elsewhere too. In Swansea, historic Brangwyn Hall will ring with Saints, Songs and Celebrations, an evening of music and dancing. At The Ffwrnes in Llanelli, Wales Pendyrus Male Choir from the Rhondda will lift the roof with quintessentially Welsh massed male voices. There’s a special celebration at Bala Lake Railway, allowing visitors to ride for half price and a fun St David’s Day Run at Cardiff’s Bute Park (available in a choice of 1km, 5km and 10km lengths).

Whatever you choose to do, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating our special national day.