This annual event is by day a stage to experience culture from across the world, and by night host to a star studded line up from across the spectrum – from jazz to indie-rock.

The International Eisteddfod was established in 1947, in an effort to celebrate international peace and the new found friendship across Europe in the difficult post-war era. The small Welsh town of Llangollen in North Wales created a unique combination of cultural performance and competitions for various titles throughout the week.

At the first Eisteddfod, Germany were invited to attend. They received a touchingly warm welcome from the audience, and were introduced as ‘our friends from Germany’. It’s stories like this one, from well before my time that recognise the political situations of history, and reinforce the meaning of the Eisteddfod to this day and its peace-promoting roots. 

Black and white image of Portuguese female singers in 1947 in long white skirts

Portuguese singers in 1947

Fast forward to today and the Eisteddfod still maintains these core values of peace. Around 26 countries are welcomed to our picturesque home in Llangollen. From Albania to Zimbabwe, Canada to Indonesia and a whole host in between. Reading the list of participants is pretty exciting as your mind drifts off to far away countries such as Cote d’Ivoire or Ghana, whose performers will be on the stage in our hometown.

For me, the costumes are the most exciting part - the colour and meaning behind the traditional dress of the groups is a story in itself. Of course, this is topped with a performance of song or dance which you may never experience again in your lifetime. To say that you walk away feeling a total embrace of culture is an understatement! Whilst many people only come for the evening concerts, I would strongly encourage you to get here early and immerse yourself in the daytime atmosphere. It is a completely unique experience. 

Whilst many people only come for the evening concerts, I would strongly encourage you to get here early and immerse yourself in the daytime atmosphere. It is a completely unique experience."

Two Tibetan monks in colourful traditional clothes playing wind instruments

Tibetan monks

Each evening concert has a different theme in order to offer variety and to appeal to a wide audience across the week. The line-up is always star studded. On the Tuesday night we host the ‘Classical Gala’, which has brought some impressive names to Llangollen, including critically acclaimed Rolano Villazon. On Wednesday we celebrate the music of Wales, followed by music of the world on the Thursday. And finally, on Saturday, we award the prestigious Pavarotti Trophy to the Choir of the World.

I always look forward to seeing familiar faces at the Eisteddfod again in July, and even more so we love to see new ones too. The event really is a unique cultural treat, transcending  international borders and political situations. With a whole range of talent and stars too, there is something for all ages and backgrounds, and no excuse to not visit Llangollen at least once during the week!

Related stories