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Eisteddfod Genedlaethol

Page history last edited by leiafee@... 8 years, 11 months ago

What's it all about?

 

Rough guide from Catrin on the forum... 

 

Large field commonly known as 'The Maes' will have a large pink pavillion in the middle decorated with Welsh flags 'up top'. The pavillion will be surrounded by covered stalls and various other smaller pavillions/tents/marquees. The stalls will be taken up by organisations, charities, universities, schools, and shops amongst other things. Stall holders will be promoting, selling, getting you to sign up for things and support things, they will be giving away promotional freebies which kids have made a tradition to collect at every Eisteddfod. Stalls will often have their own timetables of small events and goings on they have during the week.

Other stalls/smaller pavillions/tents/marquees will contain food and drink (various ones supposedly to suit every pocket - but I always find them expensive!), art exhibitions, literary presentations, science exhibitions, S4C and so on. So as you can see there is always plenty to see and do and even if you spend the week there someone will always draw your attention to something that you will have missed no matter how many times you walk round the Maes.

It's a great social event; some people only ever see each other in the Eisteddfod year in year out! It has a good atmosphere and a visual feast - plenty of photographic opportunities!

The main pink pavillion hosts the competitions all week from early in the morning till late in the evening then the concerts begin. The competitions are also broadcast on large screens at various points in the Maes and through loud speakers near the pavilion itself. There will also be evening concerts.

You will find the Maes more busy at certain times depending on the most popular competitions and events in the pavillion.

The idea is that you shouldn't need to leave the Maes at any time during the day for anything - as mentioned before there is all kinds of food available, toilet facilities, 'shops', entertainment and even if it rains you will be able to buy ponchos, raincoats, wellies and umbrellas! You could even buy a piano or a harp if the desire took you!

As well as the entertainment in the pavillion you will also see various things going on around the Maes, whether they be promotional things by individual stalls or something by S4C, a choir having a last minute practice here and there, various children's TV characters and the odd performer and sports events. And there is always an opportunity at some point in the week to meet memebers of the Welsh Rugby team...

 

Usually next to the main maes you will find Maes B (music), Maes (C) caravaning and camping and the car park. Depending on the location from year to year these can be scattered all over the place with shuttle busses ferrying Eisteddfod goers to various locations.

 

Maes B is both a campsite for young people (and the young at heart - there's no age restriction!) and a week-long music festival, hosting evening gigs that run from around 8 or 9 until the early hours. On a good year, you'll get the chance to see the entire Sîn Roc Gymraeg across the week.

Maes C is the caravan site which also hosts evening activities, but this time for the slightly more, er, mature person. This involves gigs by more established artists, discos, quizzes, comedy nights, and so on.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg has also traditionally held 'Gigs Cymdeithas' in a venue close to the Maes on most nights, often with the same bands as Maes B, but on different nights, obviously. Sometimes there's a stand-up comedy night, too.

These all come at additional cost.

 

How do the tickets work?

 

A normal field ticket (about £17) will get you into all the field itself and all the displays, pavilions and so forth where the competitions happen.  It will also get you into the main "Pafiliwn Pinc" with an unreserved seat (some ceremonies like the Crowning and Chairing will be packed so you'll need to queue and queue early.).

 

For a reserved seat you'll need to pay a bit more.

 

A week long ticket is usually cheaper if you plan to attend at least five days.

 

Often there are special offers for 'locals' on certain days.  The website will have details.

 

Evening concerts and the 'fringe' activities will be priced individually.

 

Getting there

 

The main website will have directions for car and public transport - the Maes can be a bit out of the way but there is generally a frequent shuttle bus through the day which continues into the evening for the concerts on the Maes.

 

Where to stay

 

The Eisteddfod has its own caravan/camping site, and there are often gigs and events happening there through the week.  The website publishes an accomodation list - be aware it gets booked up fast

 

Maes D - The Learners Pavilion

 

This will be where SSIW is based for the weekend - pop and visit, you'll be sure of a welcome - or why not help man the stand?

 

There are loads of activities for learners in Maes D from taster lessons, to singing, to talks on various subjects both about learning Welsh, and other items of interest and the presenters are usually careful of the level of language they use.  (some more than others mind you!).  You could probably stay here all day and be entertained!  Many of the 'main' performers also do a sess in Maes D, including some of the really big names. 

 

They'll also usually show the main ceremonies on the screen.

 

There's an open area with displays by various course providers and organisations supporting learners, and somewhere to get coffee/tea/cold drinks.

 

They're always looking for volunteers and are happy to have people with Welsh ranging from "bore da" to fluent.  The volunteer sessions are only 4/5 hours long, and there's plenty of time either before or after your shift to wander around and see things. Lots of fun and tons of opportunities to chat in Welsh. Particularly nice to chat to the new learners and give them some practice.

 

General Tips

 

Ticket prices are expensive! I would recommend arriving on the first day and just paying to get in to the maes and then deciding what you want to do in addition to that once you have found your feet.

Volunteering is good but could mean that you do spend the week tied down to one place, unless you do some sort of part time volunteering. Students are always very keen on volunteering because it helps with the pocket money and cuts down their costs so you will see a lot of them about in yellow jackets and so on.

 

It can be an expensive week, so if the weather is good and you've got a rucksack I would recommend carrying food with you, even if it's just a sandwich from a nearby supermarket and a bottle of water - yes water is expensive too, though I would recommend the hot beef and lamb and pork baps on the maes itself and the strawberries and cream are always a treat...yummmmmm!

 

I would take a light rainproof jacket and thin layers of clothes. You will see some women around the maes rediculously dressed up to impress, but heavy jewellry and heels don't make for a comfortable Eisteddfod. Comfortable light shoes that will stand a rain shower are a good idea.

The one thing you might have trouble finding on the maes is anywhere selling sun cream, paracetamol, plasters/band aids and so on, so probably an idea to take these with you should you feel you need them, otherwise there is of course St Johns/Red Cross on hand. Sometimes Boots sponsor the science tent and have a little shop but I wouldn't count on it.

 

I've always been offered numerous cups of tea for free as I've wondered around various 'stondinau' but Catrin's advice to take a bottle of water ( bottles in my case) is good advice. Water usually costs £1 a bottle on the Maes although last year Dwr Cymru were giving bottles of water away as a freebie.

If you run a learners group back home, as I do, the freebies on the Welsh Language stalls (Bwrdd yr Iaith, Menter Iaith ayyb) are a god-send for making up learner packs.

 

The evening concerts get booked up fast - buy online in advance to be certain.

 

No dogs on the Maes so leave them at home not in the car.

 

There are usually cashpoints on the Maes, but often of the paid-for variety.

 

Some vocab for the week can be found on the BBC site here.

 

A good way to find out about the smaller events is to search the word 'eisteddfod' on Twitter.

Comments (1)

leiafee@... said

at 12:22 pm on Aug 7, 2011

I want to add a sort of 'guide to ceremonies'- anyone got the words available for the 'call and response' bits?

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