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It's a week-long celebration of Wales, its language and culture. The Eisteddfod takes place every year during the first week of August and is held alternately in north and south Wales.
A Warm Welcome
Around 150,000 visitors attend each Eisteddfod and even though it's very much a Welsh-language event, you don't have to speak Welsh to enjoy Wales's largest festival. There are all sorts of activities for learners (visit the Maes ‘D’ website for more details), as well as free translation equipment.
The first thing you'll notice when you approach the festival site - or ‘maes’ - is the eye-catching pavilion. This circus-type tent has become an iconic symbol of the Eisteddfod and it's here that all the main competitions, ceremonies and concerts take place.
Choirs and soloists from Wales and beyond battle it out daily on the pavilion stage. Other competitions include brass bands, poetry recitation, dancing and instrumental solos.
The most-anticipated events perhaps are the Chairing and Crowning ceremonies, which add a touch of pomp and pageantry to each Eisteddfod. The Chair is awarded to the best poem written in 'cynghanedd' - an ancient form of poetry with some very strict rules. The Crown is awarded for the best poem in free verse.
There are other prizes for writing, drama and music composition, while the pavilion’s evening concerts range from world-class opera to pop music and musical theatre.
But the Eisteddfod isn’t just about the pavilion.
Visitors often spend hours happily walking around the maes, where there are dozens of stalls selling gifts, books, crafts, jewellery, clothes, art and much more. All kinds of organisations – including charities, public bodies and broadcasters – also have a presence on the maes.
Other fringe activities include musical performances, book launches, children’s shows, lectures, poetry events and drama. With lots of places to eat as well as licensed bars and an open-air live music stage, there are enough opportunities to relax and socialise.
Arts and Crafts
Another big attraction is ‘Y Lle Celf’ - an arts and crafts exhibition showcasing the best in contemporary Welsh painting, photography, sculpture and ceramics. The Eisteddfod also offers an annual visual arts prize, the Gold Medal for Fine Art, and past winners include Josef Herman (1962), Shani Rhys James (1992), Ifor Davies (2002) and Carwyn Evans (2012).
TV and Radio
Comprehensive TV and radio coverage, on S4C and BBC Radio Cymru, makes the Eisteddfod a great spectator sport. There are also English-language programmes on BBC Cymru Wales and ITV Cymru Wales, as well as newspaper, magazine and online coverage.