Usually, St David’s Day is a day of parades, concerts and eisteddfodau (festivals of music, language and culture). Flags are flown. The national anthem is sung with extra fervour. Children go to school in traditional Welsh dress, and everyone (well, almost…) proudly pins a daffodil or leek to their lapel.
St David: a brief history
St David was the greatest figure in the 6th century Welsh Age of Saints, founder of scores of religious communities, and the only native-born patron saint of the countries of Britain and Ireland.
St David died on 1 March – St David’s Day - in 589. He was canonised by Pope Callixtus in the 12th century, and we have celebrated St David’s Day ever since.
Here’s how you can join in the party.
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.
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.
Visit St Davids' HQ 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.
There’s plenty that happens on or around 01 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.
Events across Wales
The good people who look after our castles and ancient monuments, Cadw, also arrange special events at some of their locations. On 25 February 2023 enjoy a custodian lead walk around Caerphilly Castle and enjoy talks about St David. There's also craft activities and card making. Alternatively celebrate our national day at Castell Coch, with the story of St David and live Welsh folk music. There’s plenty to entertain younger members of the family, with face painting, colouring in and a craft and storytelling event, plus a quest sheet. Have a St David's Day Lunch in Elan Valley, with the best of local food. On 26 February 2023 there's a St David's Day Party in the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. This free event features choirs and crafts, plus a film.
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 seven national museums also join the party, with a host of interactive and entertaining events across Wales.
Head to St David’s Hall in Cardiff (where else?) for an evening of stirring Welsh song. It’s a thoroughly Welsh affair with big name musicians and orchestras playing Welsh favourites new and old. BBC Now: St David's Day Welsh Myth and Legend - Past and Present takes place on 01 March 2023. There's also an evening of music with The Royal Welsh College Brass Band at the Royal Welsh College of Music in Cardiff, with a programme of stirring Celtic music including favourites such as Sosban Fach and Men of Harlech as well as works from the pens of Karl Jenkins, Peter Graham and William Mathias.
Parades around Wales
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. In Wrexham there's a lantern parade in the evening. There's a St David's Day Cafe Concert at Penarth Pier Pavillion during the afternoon (01 March 2023).
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, rugby for little people, giant walk-about characters, and a daffodil dash. Croeso 2023 takes place on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 February 2023.
Be the king 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 Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech, plus lesser-known spots like lonely Llansteffan, Dolbadarn 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. To celebrate St David’s Day, Cadw is offering free entry to many of our historic places. Storming the ramparts couldn’t be easier.
St David's Day Party at the London Welsh Centre
01 March 2023. Celebrate our national day at the St David's Day Party at the London Welsh Centre, with an evening of entertainment. Welsh DJs Huw Stephens and Katie Owen curate a silent disco. There's a traditional Welsh choir, Cor y Boro singing and Codi Canu, Welsh for 'singing together'. Welsh delicacies to eat, providing a taste of the traditional food of Wales.
Band of the Welsh Guards, London
01 March 2023. Have a wonderful evening at the St David's Day Concert - Band of the Welsh Guards, taking place on St David's Day at The Guard's Chapel, Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London. This free evening event with world class military music features highlights from the world-premiere launch of ‘Majesty’.
Charity concert in St Paul's, London
02 March 2023. Enjoy a St David's Day Concert in St Paul's, Knightsbridge, London. This charity concert raises funds for The Passage, who provide essential support for the homeless.
Listen to a mixture of traditional Welsh music and popular classical tunes with the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and special guests Eiry Price [soprano] and John Ieuan Jones [baritone].
Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir, Oxford
04 March 2023. There's a Celebration of St David's Day With Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir on Saturday evening. Enjoy uplifting music at St Michaels in the Northgate Oxford.