Gŵyl Cymru 2023: When arts and football went on tour

Cymru’s cultural festivals are among the most celebrated in the world. The Eisteddfod, Hay Festival, Green Man and many more are the go-to destinations for lovers of music and the arts each year. World class culture set against the backdrop of our stunning natural landscape.

In 2023, the Football Association of Wales swapped studded boots for wellies and, with the Arts Council of Wales, relaunched Gŵyl Cymru, showcasing arts and football events across many of our biggest festivals.

The season kicked off at Hay Literature Festival where some of our brightest writing talents discussed the cultural legacy of Cymru’s resurgence as a football nation in recent years.

Acclaimed writer Darren Chetty led the Hay conversation. He would later return to Gŵyl Cymru 2023 to promote his series for RedWall+The Dragon On My Shirt, in which he went in search of the Black footballers who have proudly represented Cymru. The series premiere in Cardiff and a special screening at Green Man Festival were two of the highlights of the summer and saw Cymru and Wolves legend George Berry become a movie star mobbed by autograph and selfie-hunters.

Chetty said: “It’s unusual to put football and the arts together but if you look at what’s going on in Wales, I think that’s happening more than it is in many other places.”

It wouldn’t be a Welsh summer without music. Wal Goch regulars Ani Glass, Yws Gwynedd, and Dafydd Iwan were among the headline acts at Gŵyl Cymru gigs across FOCUS Wales, Eisteddfod yr Urdd, Tafwyl and Sesiwn Fawr Dolgellau. 

Welsh Ballroom Community took Pride Cymru by storm in their Cymru-inspired look. Their daring fusion of dance, leather and retro Cymru kit saluted the playing days of Toshack, Yorath and Flynn, while demonstrating FAW’s commitment to inclusion and the rights of our LGBTQIA+ fans and communities. FAW ambassador Neville Southall joined in solidarity, and he would also attend the Royal Welsh Show to discuss mental health issues and why it’s important to talk, with TV presenter Sean Fletcher.

Gŵyl Cymru takes pride in our bilingual culture. The achievements of Joe Ledley and FAW chief executive Noel Mooney in learning Cymraeg were celebrated at Tafwyl, and there was an eclectic range of events at Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Llŷn ac Eifionydd – music, stand-up comedy and talks with the designer of our world-famous bucket hat, Tim Williams of Spirit of 58, and ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ star Spencer Harris.

Rob Page spoke at the Urdd Eisteddfod and Yr Eagles in Llanuwchllyn with performances from Gwyneth Glyn and Twm Morys.Gŵyl Cymru 2023 came to a close in the autumn at the terrific Gŵyl y Wal Goch in Cardiff and Wrexham where visual arts, comedy and cultural discussion filled the air before the Cymru men’s team’s sublime victory over Croatia. The perfect blend of arts, culture and football – which is what Gŵyl Cymru is all about.

Bring on 2024.

Watch on RedWall+

Joe Ledley

Watch on RedWall+

Ani Glass & Ian Gwyn Hughes

Watch on RedWall+

Noel Mooney

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