THE PRINCE OF WALES has hailed an international festival where he once did some impromptu bhangra dancing as a “shining example of peace and harmony”.
The royal tribute was in the foreword he wrote for the programme of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod that’s celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
The event was established in1947 in the aftermath of the Second World War as a way of bringing the nations of the world closer together in a colourful, multi-cultural melting pot.
Ever since the picturesque town of Llangollen in the Dee Valley has been known as the place where Wales meets the world.
The popular festival which helped launch the careers of opera superstars Luciano Pavarotti and Sir Bryn Terfel had to be cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In 2021 it took on a virtual format with performances streamed online but this year Wales will once again welcome the world to the little town in the Dee Valley.
The festival starts on Thursday, July 7, and culminates with Llanfest on Sunday, July 10, when the Eisteddfod joins forces with the Llangollen Fringe Festival.
The Prince is the long-standing Patron of the Eisteddfod which he has visited three times.
On the last occasion in 2015, when he was accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, he was captured on camera dancing to a bhangra beat with the Sheerer Punjab Bhangra Dance group from Nottingham.
The Eisteddfod’s royal connection stretches all the way back to 1953 when it was one of the first of the then newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth’s official engagements after she succeeded her father, George VI.
In the foreword, the Prince of Wales wrote: “When the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod was founded in 1947 in a world weary of war, no-one could have foreseen that it would still be a beacon of inspiration three quarters of a century later.
“Over the years since then, the vision of those early founders has been triumphantly realised, and this little town in the Dee Valley has witnessed, time and again, the kind of concord between the nations that gives us all hope for the future.
“It is a source of great pride to me, as Patron of the Eisteddfod, that Wales should have given the world this shining example of peace and harmony.
“The success of the Festival has proved the truth of the Eisteddfod motto – Byd gwyn fydd byd a gano. Gwaraidd fydd ei gerddi fo. A world that sings is truly blessed.
“In my visits over the years, it has always been a joy to see how people from so many different backgrounds and cultures can find a common language in music, and can create new and lasting friendships.
“At a time when we once again find our world overshadowed by conflict, we need the vision of Llangollen more than ever. As you celebrate the magnificent achievement of reaching this significant anniversary, I send everyone connected with the Festival my warmest good wishes.
“Dymuniadau gorau i chi i gyd (Best wishes to you all).
The Eisteddfod’s Executive Producer, Camilla King, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Prince of Wales for the wonderful words in the foreword he has written for the programme.
“I know that his steadfast support over many years has always been gratefully appreciated.
“It is fitting that our 75th anniversary coincides with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee so there will be even more reason to celebrate.”
Over the four days of the Eisteddfod there will be a host of new attractions and activities on the revamped outdoor site, including music, dance, talks, comedy, food, drink, shopping, workshops and pop-up entertainment.
In the evenings there will be concerts featuring the singing duo of Aled Jones and Russell Watson and Anoushka Shankar, the British-Indian-American sitar player, producer, film composer and activist who is the daughter of renowned musician Ravi Shankar, and half-sister of singer Norah Jones.
The competitions climax on Saturday night with Choir of the World and the contest for the Pendine International Voice of the Future featuring the finest young singers from around the world on the stage where Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, Sir Bryn Terfel and Luciano Pavarotti have performed.
This year’s Eisteddfod is a shortened version of previous years but will still pack plenty in with a full programme of competitions in the Pavilion and starting on Thursday with Schools Day and the Young Peacemaker Awards.
Sunday sees the Eisteddfod let its hair down for Llanfest before the climactic final concert featuring indie rock stars Amber Run, blues powerhouse Elles Bailey and Bajan-Welsh singer songwriter Kizzy Crawford