Jun 23, 2009

World Famous Llangollen Festival takes centre stage at Smithsonian Festival

The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod will this year be taking centre stage in Washington D.C as one of the 160 organizations, musicians, poets, scholars, artists and craftsmen representing Wales as the Guest Nation at the two week long Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington D.C. 24 June – 5 July.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which takes place every year and attracts over one million visitors from the USA and overseas, will welcome Wales as the featured Nation providing visitors with a unique opportunity to learn about Welsh culture. As representatives of Wales’ festivals, Llangollen will be an integral part of the Wales and the World Pavilion where they will be telling the unique story of Llangollen and the Welsh Eisteddfodic tradition on which it is based.

The International Eisteddfod’s presence in Washington will highlight the parallels between both events as the International Eisteddfod’s Executive Director, Mervyn Cousins explains, “It is a great privilege to be part of such a major world festival with similar aims as ours. In the same way as the Llangollen Eisteddfod aims to promote world peace through music and dance, the Smithsonian Festival aims to do this by showcasing the best the Guest Nation has to offer to the rest of the world and we are very proud to be here representing Wales’ festivals. Llangollen is where Wales and the World meet and therefore this is an ideal opportunity for us to take Llangollen to the world!”

During the two-week festival, that takes place between 24 – 28 June and 1 – 5 July senior Llangollen personnel will lead various presentations. The talks will range in their themes from how the Eisteddfod came into existence 63 years ago, through to the Festival’s commitment to sustainable development and the environment, to how a small town in North Wales was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize!

Betty Belanus, Curator of the Wales Smithsonian Cymru program expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration: "Having visited the Llangollen area during my extended research stay in Wales in 2007, I was very impressed with the beauty of the area as well as the obvious positive impact the International Eisteddfod has had on the town and environs. The idea of an International Eisteddfod illustrates the warm welcome that I have always felt in Wales. Although I have never had the pleasure of attending the event, its vision of promoting peace through mutual cooperation is much like that of our own Smithsonian Folklife Festival. We look forward to hosting the representatives of the International Eisteddfod who will be participating in the Festival, and we hope that visitors will be inspired by the global reach of Wales through finding out about events such as the International Eisteddfod. I believe that the depth of pride and determination of the Welsh people will shine in our event, through one on one interaction with the participants from all around Wales, including Llangollen.”

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival has collaborated with the Welsh Assembly Government to select the best that Wales has to offer. First Minister, Rhodri Morgan said: "No longer will Wales be Europe’s best kept secret. The Smithsonian is one of the world’s biggest cultural festival events and we have a unique opportunity to raise our profile in Washington and right across North America. Visitors to the festival will be able to learn more about our traditional and contemporary cultures and we hope that inspires them to visit, study or invest here."

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