Urdd National Eisteddfod

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Urdd National Eisteddfod
Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yr Urdd
urdd Eisteddfod entrance 2017
Entrance to Urdd Eisteddfod 2017
Status active
Genre youth, arts
Frequency annual
Country  Wales
Established 1929; 89 years ago (1929)
Participants 15,000
Attendance 90,000
Website www.urdd.cymru
Pronunciation of 'Eisteddfod Yr Urdd'

The Urdd National Eisteddfod (Welsh: Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Urdd Gobaith Cymru or Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yr Urdd) is an annual Welsh-language youth festival of literature, music and performing arts organised by Urdd Gobaith Cymru. Arguably Europe's largest youth festival,[1] it is usually held during the last week of May, coinciding with schools' half term holiday. Locations alternate between north and south Wales.[1] The Eisteddfod consists of competitive singing, recitation, art, composition, dance and instrumental events for contestants aged between 7 and 24 years. Regional qualifying heats are held in advance around Wales, as occurs for the National Eisteddfod.

Urdd's motto is 'Er Mwyn Cymru' (English: For the sake of Wales).


The festival at Bala in 1954.

The first Urdd National Eisteddfod was held in 1929 at Corwen.[1] Originally held over two days the festival in recent times has grown into a week-long celebration of competition and socializing.[1] The initial festivals, which focused more a celebration of young people enjoying the Welsh language, saw a few thousand visitors, but in 1935 the Eisteddfod at Carmarthen was heavily reported by the press resulting in 12,000 people attending and increasing the visibility of the event.[2]

The only years that the Urdd Eisteddfod has not taken place since its inauguration were during the Second World War. The 1940 Eisteddfod, held at Rhyl, still took place. But coming on the same week as the Dunkirk evacuation, it was a reduced festival, cramming all the events into a single day. The Eisteddfod returned after the cessation of hostilities by returning to its roots at Corwen in 1946.[3] During the 1950s the Eisteddfod began evolving away from the celebration and marching aspect towards more competitive events, mirroring the National Eisteddfod. In 1955 an art exhibition was in introduced and in 1958 a classical concert was included.

One of the more notable events to occur at the Urdd Esiteddfod occurred at the 1969 Eisteddfod in Aberystwyth. The Urdd invited Prince Charles to attend and he was given a public platform to speak to the crowd. As this was the year of Charles' investiture as the Prince of Wales, a role that divided many Welsh people. At the event about a hundred people stood up and left as the Prince arrived on the stage. The fallout after was also heated, with an editorial in the Welsh-language paper, 'Y Cymro', angering the then director of the Urdd.[4]

Y Maes[edit]

The Eisteddfod is usually held in a large open field (maes). Accompanying peripheral attractions are designed to help fund the festival and include exhibition stalls, displays and sporting activities. Local and national corporations, retailers and other institutions are invited to participate, notably the Welsh universities.


An ensemble harp entry.

According to the Urdd's own reporting, they estimate that roughly 40,000 children and young adults apply through regional rounds for places in the Eisteddfod competitions.[5] Of these roughly 15,000 qualify through to take part at the National event.[5] Preliminary rounds for the performing arts are then conducted on the day to establish a final three competitors who perform in front of the pavilion audience. A single judge then ranks the final three competitors to give the winning order.

A group of children perform at Carmarthen in 1967. The old county score board is visible behind them.

In its earlier competitive years, children competed as part of their county, and a large scoreboard would tally the points to find an overall winner.[3] Today the competitors compete for themselves, though their school or college plays a large part. The younger children will compete under their school's name and normally wear their school uniform while performing.

Competitors for the Urdd National Esiteddfod can be split into two main groups. The performing arts; which take place in the Pavilion, and the plastic and compositional arts which are judged prior to the Eisteddfod but are revealed as part of the festival.

Pavilion competitions[edit]

The performing arts which are traditionally performed in the pavilion include:

  • Cân Actol – A long narrative piece sung and acted in Welsh by a group of 30.
  • Cerdd Dant – A choir of up to 12 voices sings in Welsh, accompanied by a harp, in a formulaic sequence of alternating melodies.
  • Recitation – A group of up to 12 people recites a Welsh poem.
  • Boys' Choir
  • Girls' Choir
  • dawnsio stryd street dancing
  • solo recitation
  • solo strings
  • solo singing
  • s.a.t.b. choir
  • solo woodwind
  • solo brass
  • folk dancing
  • solo piano

Other awards[edit]

The plastic arts, compositional and literature awards are announced on the pavilion stage at various points throughout the festival. Many of the categories are competed in age ranges; though there are several Medal awards and scholarships which are normally entered by older children and young adults.

Drawing and plastic arts

  • Ceramics and pottery
  • 2D Creative
  • 3d Creative
  • Print
  • Computer graphics
  • Photography
  • Design
  • Puppetry
  • Textiles
  • Drawing monochrome/colour

Individual awards

  • Composer Medal
  • Art Medal
  • Art Scholarship

Venues chosen for the event[edit]

Solo piano competitor from 2017.



  1. ^ a b c d Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel; Menna, Baines; Lynch, Peredur I., eds. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 903. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6.
  2. ^ Crump, Eryl (27 January 2012). "The Urdd National Eisteddfod is Europe's largest competitive youth festival". dailypost.co.uk. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b Eirian, Sian. "Eisteddfod yr Urdd 2006". BBC (in Welsh). Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Remembering 1969 - Part 3". BBC. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b "What is the Eisteddfod?". urdd.cymru. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  6. ^ Rhestr testunau Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Urdd Gobaith Cymru Sir Benfro 27 Mai – 1 Mehefin 2013 (PDF) (in Welsh). Urdd Gobaith Cymru. p. 11. Retrieved 2 April 2013.