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This report is taken from PN Review 184, Volume 35 Number 2, November - December 2008.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

After three decades and thirty different venues alternating between north Wales and south, this year the National Eisteddfod returned to Cardiff. It is always held in the first week of August, and experienced eisteddfodwyr come with wellingtons and umbrellas prepared for the rain and mud that seem with increasing certainty to characterise our summer. This is just one difference between the Eisteddfod and the Hay Festival, where visitors are encouraged to believe the occasion will resemble a southern counties idyll with picnic baskets on the grass, Pimms and champagne, thin, crustless cucumber sandwiches and the like, only to be sadly disabused.

You cannot do anything about the weather, except learn to live with it. As it transpired, there was only one day of rain, when the site was awash, but the Eisteddfod can cater for most eventualities. It has an enormous pink pavilion where all the major events are held, six other performance areas, five restaurants, an art gallery, a games field, substantial structures representing every organisation of any account in Wales, and over three hundred stalls, many occupied by smaller agencies, craftspeople, publishers and denominations, many more selling everything from harps to hotdogs, ice cream to antiquarian books. The business of the Eisteddfod is conducted in Welsh, but translation facilities are available and no one who asks for a coffee in English is turned away. Remarkably, given the scale of the operation, it preserves a sense of community; people gather in families and ...


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