It was the Lord Rhys, prince of Deheubarth, who held the first eisteddfod - a gathering of poets and musicians competing to be declared the best among their peers - at his new castle in Cardigan in 1176. The castle has undergone a major restoration, and now hosts many events including music, food and craft fairs as well as classes to learn Welsh and harp playing.
A host of events
Cardigan has maintained the Eisteddfod tradition with Gwyl Fawr Aberteifi which is part of the family of eisteddfodau held around the world from Australia to Patagonia.
There are other major eisteddfodau held in Ceredigion, such as the Pantyfedwen Eisteddfod at Lampeter and Pontrhydfendigaid, or the May Day eisteddfod in Aberystwyth and smaller eistedfodau in schools and villages across Ceredigion. See Cymdeithas Eisteddfodau Cymru's listing (in Welsh)
The modern National Eisteddfod of Wales has visited Ceredigion on several occasions: Aberystwyth (1865, 1916, 1952 and 1992) Cardigan (1942 and 1976) and Lampeter(1984).
Experience an Eisteddfod in Ceredigion
Today, the modern eisteddfod is a festival where competitions in poetry, reciting, dance, drama, arts and craft and much more are held. Ceredigion has a strong Eisteddfod tradition, with Eisteddfodau (more than one eisteddfod) held in towns and villages all over Ceredigion. By visiting an eisteddfod you will witness an authentic and traditional Welsh language community event which showcases the living culture of the area.
Competitions can usually be grouped into two categories:
• competitions on stage (e.g., singing, recitation, acting, dancing, musical instruments)
• competitions judged before the day of the eisteddfod (e.g., literature, arts and craft).
Most village eisteddfodau are held on Saturday. Some last an afternoon and evening whilst others last a whole weekend. The eisteddfod ‘season’ is usually between September and mid July with a break in August when the National Eisteddfod is held. You can enjoy a feast of singing and recitation, all in Welsh, and be entertained and enchanted by accomplished local talents and even some future stars.
The most prestigious literary prizes at an eisteddfod are the bardic chair and the bardic crown, one won for an ‘awdl’ poem written in strict metre, and the other for work in ‘vers libre’. Several Ceredigion poets have won these highest of accolades, but only a handful of poets have ever managed to win ‘the double’ of both Eisteddfod chair and crown. One of these is Donald Evans of Talgarreg, who achieved this feat not once, but twice.
Local eisteddfod winners have gone on to become national and even
international stars. Competition at the annual Young Farmers’ eisteddfod
is also keen, with competitions ranging from serious literature and music to