St David: a brief history

St David was born in 500 and died on 1 March – St David’s Day - in 589. He is the only native-born patron saint of the countries of Britain and Ireland. Apparently his mother, St Non, gave birth to him during a storm! St David was the greatest figure in the 6th century Welsh Age of Saints. He travelled far and wide, and founded scores of religious communities across Wales and England. St David's remains are buried in St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, where he had eventually settled and established a religious community. 

St David was canonised by Pope Callixtus in the 12th century, and we have celebrated St David’s Day ever since.

Read more: Five facts about St David

Here's how you can join in the party!

An illustration of St David.

St David, by Jonathan Edwards

St David's Day traditions

Usually, St David’s Day is a day of parades, concerts and eisteddfodau (festivals of music, language and culture).

St David's Day traditions include proudly pinning our national emblems, the daffodil or a leek, to your lapel. Children go to school in traditional Welsh dress. Flags are flown. The Welsh National Anthem is sung with extra fervour, and around the world, Welsh people wish each other a 'Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus' - 'Happy St David's Day' in Welsh.

Places to celebrate St David's Day

St David's Day events and concerts

The good people who look after our castles and ancient monuments, Cadw, arrange special events at some of their locations. The National Trust is a reliable source of lavishly-daffodilled gardens and St David’s Day events. Most of their sites in Wales will be honouring St David in one way or another.

Our fabulous National Museums also join the party, with a host of interactive and entertaining events across Wales, including the Gŵyl Hwyl: St David's Day at the National Wool Museum (on 2 March) and a St David’s Day Mini Party for under 5s at the National Waterfront Museum.

St David's Day 2024 concerts taking place include:

An imposing castle tower with daffodils in front.

Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, North Wales

St David's Day parades

There are a number of parades you can enjoy that take place around Wales.

The National St David's Day Parade is an imaginative celebration of Welsh heritage and culture that happens every year on 1 March in Cardiff city centre. It’s a non-military parade that brings together several cultural groups, school children and musicians - and plenty of locals in traditional Welsh costume. Keen vexillophiles (that’s flag enthusiasts) will spot other banners among the sea of red dragons, including the flag of St David – a yellow cross on a black field – and the red-and-yellow lions of the Welsh princes. The action usually starts in Cardiff’s Civic Centre. The procession heads down to the Hayes, where the crowd joins together in a rousing mass rendition of our national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

There are annual processions and celebrations in several other towns across the country, including Aberystwyth, Wrexham, Carmarthen, Lampeter and Colwyn Bay. 

One of the biggest shindigs is Croeso (it means ‘welcome’ in Welsh), a two-day festival of music, food and entertainment in Swansea city centre. There are food stalls, cookery demonstrations, Welsh bands, children's activities, arts and crafts, and a daffodil dash. 

Ideas for celebrating St David's Day

Do the little things

Follow the words of St David himself: gwnewch y pethau bychain — do the little things. What better way to celebrate than to bring those words to life with an outpouring of hwyl and kindness. Celebrate St David's Day by doing and sharing Random Acts of Welshness.

Join us and celebrate our national day. Choose a random act and share it on social media tagging #RandomActsofWelshness and @Walesdotcom

Have a great Welsh (cake) bake off

Fuel your epic St David's Day out by seeing who can make the best homemade Welsh cakes and Bara Brith. Or cook up a traditional Welsh meal of Cawl or Glamorgan sausages when you get home.

Bara brith in a tin.
Glamorgan sausages frying in a pan.
A bowl of cawl on a table with bread.

Traditional Welsh food - Bara Brith, Glamorgan Sausages and Cawl

Visit St Davids in Pembrokeshire

Established by our patron saint in the 12th century, pretty St Davids in south west Pembrokeshire doesn’t have much in common with places like Birmingham or London. But thanks to the presence of its huge, purple-stoned cathedral, this settlement of around 2000 people is officially the UK’s smallest city. It’s also the religious centre of Wales, with two trips here said to be worth one pilgrimage to Rome. 

Tour of St Davids, Pembrokeshire, West Wales

There’s plenty that happens on or around 1 March. The little city brings out the bunting for a weekend of events in St Davids Cathedral and around the town. There’s the annual Dragon Parade from Oriel y Parc, while the Ras Dewi Sant marathon is one of the toughest races, on one of the prettiest courses, in the world. The route takes runners through the undulating paths of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path around the St Davids Peninsula, with half-marathon and 10k options.

Stained glass window in St Davids Cathedral.
Image of St Davids Cathedral with grass in the foreground and blue skies in the background

St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, West Wales

Be the king or queen of the castle

You can hardly move for castles here. At the last count we had more than 600 fabulous fortresses dotted across our landscape. These include big hitters like the UNESCO World Heritage Site castles at BeaumarisCaernarfonConwy and Harlech, plus lesser-known spots like lonely LlansteffanDolbadarn and Castell y Bere built by native Welsh princes. If you want to get a closer look at some of these iconic Welsh sites, we’ve got you covered.

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