Global indie rock sensations Amber Run and blues powerhouse Elles Bailey will be among the stars as North Wales gears up for one of its greatest ever festivals.
They will be taking to the famous pavilion stage for a “joyous, family-friendly jamboree” as the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod returns as a physical event for the first time since 2019.
Sunday, July 10, will see this year’s festival-within-a-festival, Llanfest, take on a format the like of which it has never attempted before.
The International Eisteddfod has partnered with Llangollen Fringe Festival as they mark a combined record of 100 years of producing standout festivals.
The Eisteddfod is celebrating its landmark 75th anniversary and the Fringe is marking 25 years in existence.
As well as Amber Run and Elles Bailey, there will be sets from Cardiff based music producer Minas, and Bajan-Welsh singer songwriter Kizzy Crawford who has been making waves on the international festival scene and on BBC radio.
In something of a happy coincidence Kizzy’s sister Eädyth – whose voice is also fast becoming familiar to radio listeners – will be performing on a different stage.
The Eisteddfod’s Executive Producer, Camilla King, said: “The buzz in the air is tangible as excitement builds for a different kind of experience. It’s going to be a fun and family-friendly, end-of-Eisteddfod celebration.
“It’s been hugely rewarding to make this happen in what is a truly momentous year for both organisations. There’s no better way to honour two such significant anniversaries.”
Equally enthusiastic is Llangollen Fringe Festival programmer and Artistic Director Neal Thompson.
He said: “This day is definitely one not to be missed. It’s long been talked about but never happened before, so there’s a real vibe in the air, a huge sense of anticipation that something very special is about to happen here.
“It’s amazing when you think about it that we’ve both reached such significant anniversaries in the same year. That’s a full century of music-making between us, which has made Llangollen one of the most lauded small towns in the world.”
Adding to the fervour of the occasion is an even wider sense of inclusivity in the programme from the Eisteddfod already known for its ethos of harmony and togetherness.
It runs from Thursday, July 7 to Sunday, July 10 and first up is the Schools Day and the Young Peacemaker Awards.
Over the four days there will be a host of new attractions and activities on the revamped outdoor site, including music, dance, talks, comedy, food, drink, shopping, workshops and pop-up entertainment.
In the evenings there will be concerts featuring the singing duo of Aled Jones and Russell Watson, and Anoushka Shankar, the British-Indian-American sitar player, producer, film composer and activist who is the daughter of renowned musician Ravi Shankar, and half-sister of singer Norah Jones.
The competitions climax on Saturday night with Choir of the World and the contest for the Pendine International Voice of the Future featuring the finest young singers from around the world on the stage where icons Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, Sir Bryn Terfel and Luciano Pavarotti have performed.
Camilla said: “We’ve got something for everyone including festival stalwarts, competition veterans, overseas visitors, young families, and the wider community. It’s important to me that we’re a truly inclusive event.”
With tickets already selling, she advises audiences to go online and book for what could be one of the most memorable days in the Eisteddfod’s history.
She added: “Llanfest has always been that little bit more relaxed, with the competitions over and everyone just enjoying the buzz of meeting up on a Sunday and being in the fantastic Llangollen environment.
“At the same time there will be an opportunity to look forward, a sense of regeneration, of hope and optimism for the future, as the young and vibrant performers from the background of the Fringe inject their own unbridled enthusiasm into the occasion.”
According to Neal, the Llanfest itinerary encompasses some bands who have been firm favourites of the Fringe past as well as up and coming names of today’s vibrant Welsh and UK music scenes.
He said: “Undoubtedly a highlight will be big names like Amber Run and the fabulous Kizzy Crawford. But as ever we’ve also got a wealth of local talent from home grown bands.”
They include Baby Brave, a new wave-noise pop outfit from Wrexham who release their latest EP, Sunny Days in Dark Rooms, in July via Mai 68 Records.
North Wales four-piece Alpha Chino will be there in advance of also releasing an EP, The Last Astronaut, in August.
Adding extra musical diversity will be 25-strong Chester Big Band who mix it up with funk, soul and pop, while Llareggub Brass Band brings a unique sound which invokes strains of New York Bronx-based hip hop with Welsh language pop.
Also on the programme are Wrexham duo Igloo Hearts, and Paperchase, a multi-generational band of session artists led by Andy Hickie.
Neal said Llanfest promises a thrilling overlap fusing the finale of the Eisteddfod with a foretaste of Llangollen Fringe 2022 which runs from July 22-30.