Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod
Photo: international-eisteddfod.co.uk
The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is an annual festival of music and folk dance held in the small town of Llangollen in north-east Wales. It usually takes place during the second week of July. One of the most inspiring cultural events in Europe, the festival features over 5,000 singers, instrumentalists and dancers from around 50 countries.

In Welsh culture, an eisteddfod is a festival of music, performance and literature. The tradition of organizing meetings of Welsh artists dates back to at least the early 12th century, when Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth held a festival of music and poetry at Cardigan Castle in 1176. Today, Wales hosts several large eisteddfodau including the National Eisteddfod, the Urdd National Eisteddfod, and the International Eisteddfod.

The origins of the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod date back to the mid-1940s. In 1945 Harold Tudor, an officer to the British Council, came up with the idea of organizing an international choral festival as part of the Welsh National Eisteddfod. The council of the Eisteddfod rejected Tudor’s idea so he decided to create an independent music festival with support from the British Council and Llangollen town council.

The inaugural International Eisteddfod was held in June 1947. The organizers feared that it would fail to attract many attendees and overseas competitors due to post-war hardships and a railway strike in France. Luckily, their fears were not justified. The first festival was a tremendous success so it was decided to make it an annual event. The International Eisteddfod has been growing in success and popularity ever since.

Over the years, the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod has featured some of the world’s most remarkable performers. For example, at the 1955 International Eisteddfod then 19 year-old Luciano Pavarotti competed with his father and a choir from Modena. Forty years later Pavarotti, now a world-famous operatic tenor, gave a solo concert at the festival. The 1968 Eisteddfod was marked with Placido Domingo’s first professional performance in the United Kingdom. The festival has included performances by José Carreras, Montserrat Caballé, and other notable singers.

The program of the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod includes an impressive array of competition and non-competition performances. The festival culminates with the Choir of the World Awards ceremony. Several other awards are presented in a number of categories.

However, the International Eisteddfod is more than just a choral competition. It is a celebration of music and dance that allows performers from all over the world to share their national folk traditions with an audience of 50,000. That’s why one of the festival’s main highlights is a colorful procession, in which both local and visiting musicians, singers and dancers march the streets of Llangollen, spreading joy and cheer.

In 2020 and 2021, the event was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod

Photo © Barrie Potter




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