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The National Eisteddfod is one of Europe’s largest music and poetry festivals

The National Eisteddfod takes place during the first week of August every year. The eight-day event is a celebration of Wales’s language and culture.

People dressed in druid style robes march at the National Eisteddfod, Wales in 2008

One of Europe’s largest music and poetry festivals – the National Eisteddfod – got under way on Saturday 4th of August this year.

The annual event takes place during the first week of August and is described as a “celebration” of Wales”s culture and language.

While the eight-day event is the largest Eisteddfod in Wales, smaller versions are held in schools and communities, mainly in Wales, throughout the year.

The site on which the National Eisteddfod takes place is known as the “maes” and that changes from year to year, generally alternating between an area of North Wales and South Wales.

A celebration of the Welsh language, about 150,000 visitors attend each year.

Competitions traditionally form the basis of the Eisteddfod, with more than 6,000 competitors each year.

The National Eisteddfod was held in Tregaron, Ceredigion last year

The maes itself has become an attraction in itself with over 250 stalls and trade stands as well as hundreds of events and activities.

The history of the Eisteddfod in Wales dates back to 1176, while the modern version dates back to 1861.

It’s been held every year other than 1914 when it was postponed due to the outbreak of the First World War and in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID pandemic.

Highlights of the week include the chairing and crowning of the bards.

The prestigious awards are given to the winning competitors in poetry competitions.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams,was invested to the Gorsedd in 2002

In 1917, the pseudonym of the victor was called out three times by the archdruid but no one stood up.

The poet, known by his bardic name Hedd Wyn, had been killed in battle six weeks earlier.

The 1917 Eisteddfod has since been known as “Eisteddfod y Gadair Ddu” (Eisteddfod of the Black Chair).

The ceremony involves “Dawns y Blodau” (dance of the flowers) and involves members of the Gorsedd of the Bards.

The Gorsedd is a society of people who have made a significant contribution to the Welsh language or public life in Wales, such as poets, writers and musicians.

Members include First Minister Mark Drakeford, and former archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip walk to the pavilion at the 1960 National Eisteddfod

Queen Elizabeth II was invested into the Gorsedd in 1946 but in 2019 the archdruid confirmed she was no longer a member as members have had to speak Welsh since 2006.

The Gorsedd is a separate organisation to the Eisteddfod and was not actually created in Wales but in Primrose Hill, London, in 1792.