Roald Dahl 100: a magical year of celebration

Roald Dahl Day is celebrated all over the world on his birthday, 13 September. But this year, to mark the centenary of Dahl’s birth in Cardiff in 1916, there’s a whole range of festivities around the world – with the biggest and boldest taking place here in the country of his birth. 
There’ll be an array of Roald Dahl 100 events, exhibitions, happenings and grassroots activity in Wales throughout 2016, delivering a year packed with gloriumptious treats and surprises for everyone. 

The biggest of them all - Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected – happens in Cardiff on the weekend of 17 - 18 September. But if you can’t wait until then, here are just a few highlights from the months ahead. Oh, and there are fabulous new events being added all the time, so check out the website for all the latest news: /

16-18 June

Cardiff University Conference on Roald Dahl

This major international conference looks at new ways of understanding Dahl’s achievements and his place in modern culture, looking at everything from his unique use of language to the dark morality that infuses his work.  It’s largely aimed at academics (you can register here ) but there’s a public event on 16 June when Tom Solomon, the Professor of Neurology who cared for Roald Dahl during his final months, is quizzed about Dahl’s lifelong fascination with medical science. 

22 June

Wales and Norway in the life of Roald Dahl, Norwegian Church Arts Centre, Cardiff Bay

The Norwegian Church with flag flying

Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay by Paula J James

Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff to Norwegian parents in 1916, and was christened in this very building. His official biographer Donald Sturrock explores the influence of both Wales and Norway on Dahl’s life, and signed copies of Sturrock’s new book, Love from Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to his Mother, will be available to buy on the night.

1-3 July

Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival, St Donat’s Castle, Vale of Glamorgan

This magnificent three-day festival of stories and music from Wales and across the world has been running biennially for more than 20 years. It’s a feast of storytelling, poetry, music, singing, theatre, circus, puppets and films. Dahl’s BFG has inspired this year’s theme of Giants, and the (big!) part they play in literature and folklore.  

16 July (until 20 November)

Quentin Blake: Inside Stories, National Museum Cardiff

Quentin Blake 1998 from The Roald Dahl Treasury by Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake 1998 from The Roald Dahl Treasury 
 by Roald Dahl

It’s hard to think of Dahl’s books without Quentin Blake’s magical illustrations. Their collaboration began with The Enormous Crocodile in 1978 and continued to The Vicar of Nibbleswicke, published a year after Dahl’s death, in 1991. This exhibition gives a unique insight into the origins of some of Blake’s most iconic and popular creations. 

19 July (until 7 October)

Oriel Davies, Newtown

This is one of our best contemporary galleries, and they’re running a Roald Dahl-inspired summer programme of exhibitions and events.

23 July

Last Night of the Welsh Proms, St David’s Hall, Cardiff

This is always a flag-waving, bunting-strewn night of riotous fun. Among the well-loved classics is the world premiere performance of Bernard Kane’s Overture to Mr Dahl, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Owain Arwel Hughes CBE.

July /August

Techniquest, Cardiff Bay

This award-winning science discovery centre has 160 interactive exhibits, along with a planetarium and science theatre. Techniquest will be running an amazing new Science Theatre show this summer inspired by the spectacular work of Roald Dahl.

August, various dates

Danny the Champion of the World

Open-air theatre specialists Illyria are touring their adaptation of Dahl’s classic tale throughout Wales this August, appearing in some of our most beautiful backdrops. They’ll be at Harlech Castle (August 2), Oystermouth Castle (4), Cardigan Castle (9), Bryngarw Country Park (10), Abergavenny Castle (11), Plas Glyn y Weddw in Pwllheli (18), and St Donat’s Castle (29).

12 August (until January 2017)

The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

After a hugely successful stint in London’s Southbank, this magical and interactive adventure arrives in Dahl’s birthplace. It’s an hour-long multi-sensory journey, taking visitors through seven immersive worlds, each exploring a different aspect of Roald Dahl’s life. 

Roald Dahl Plas, Cardiff Bay

Roald Dahl Plas, Cardiff Bay

18-21 August

RawFfest, The Riverfront, Newport

What’s unique about RawFfest GŵylGrai is that it’s entirely programmed and performed by young people aged 14 to 25. There’ll be drama, dance, music, circus, visual art, photography, film, crafts, sculpture, multimedia and fashion – and writing workshops explore Roald Dahl’s mastery of the ‘twist in the tale’.

22-28 August

No book ever ends…, Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea

The Dylan Thomas Centre hosts a whole week of workshops and activities inspired by Roald Dahl. There’s a lovely symmetry to this: Roald Dahl adored Dylan Thomas, and described listening to the poet reading his work as “… the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard.” He chose Thomas’s reading of Fern Hill as one of his Desert Island Discs, and even included lines from In Country Sleep in his book Matilda.