Festivals of Wales
Wales - well what can we say!
Llanwrtyd Wells, with a population of just 604 (2001 census) is a unique town in the heart of the countryside in mid Wales. With clean air, low light pollution, a river bursting with salmon, and surrounded by forests, mountains and hidden valleys, Llanwrtyd Wells is a town worth escaping to for the scenery alone. However, venture deeper and you’ll hear tales of ‘horse skulls on sticks’, ‘bog snorkelling’ and ‘man v horse marathon’ and you’ll discover there’s more here than at first meets the eye…….
25th William Hill Man v Horse Marathon, 12 June
This race has come a long way from its humble beginning at the Neuadd Arms Hotel when Gordon Green, who was then landlord, heard locals arguing over the relative merits of man and beast. Not long afterwards, the challenge was laid down – prove it - in public.
The race takes place over 22 miles of the finest scenery in Mid Wales and the largest unclaimed prize in British Athletics is at stake for the first individual runner to beat the fastest horse and rider home - £25,000! In 2003, 400 athletes and 38 horses took part and it was the closest finish yet, with the first athlete just seconds behind the first horse. For further information visit www.man-v-horse.org.uk
Held on the first weekend of July, this annual party sees Morris dancers from all over the British Isles descend on Llanwrtyd Wells for the weekend, for barn dances, ceilidhs, a nine mile walk through the countryside on the Saturday, (breaking into spontaneous dancing en route) and the main procession through the town on Sunday. Entrance is £5 per day.
This unique event takes place in a specially dug bog on the outskirts of Llanwrtyd Wells. The trench, about six feet deep and 45 yards long, has been dug out of a peat bog and competitors have to ride a specially prepared mountain bike through two lengths of the trench using a snorkel. The competition is open to all and there are prizes for the male and female winners. Entry fee £10.
The original bog snorkeling event, this takes place annually on Bank Holiday Monday at Waen Rhydd Bog. Competitors battle it out in a sixty-yard peat bog for the coveted title of "World Champion Bog Snorkeller", with the record time currently standing at 1 minute 35.46 seconds. For more info: www.benjerry.co.uk
This annual Welsh event was won last year by Phillip John of Bridgend and beat off strong competition from 93 other entries, including one entry wearing a pink tutu and another in office dress! Phillip’s record time was 1 minute 45.22 seconds to complete two lengths of a 60-yard peat bog trench. Snorkels and flippers must be worn and although wet suits are optional, they are advisable. Competitors must complete the course in the quickest time possible without using any conventional swimming strokes.
In 2000, it was a cold, wet day, in 2001 the event fell victim to the foot and mouth disease but 2002 saw the dawn of a perfect late summer day, ideal for those who wanted to cool off (or show off) in a dirty, smelly wet trench in the middle of a mid Wales peat bog!
Competitors come from all over Wales, UK
and the World! 2003 saw a first for Australia with two Sydneysiders taking part
in the event. Our very own Peter Needham, freelance travel writer and Nicole
Lenoir-Jourdan, Five Star PR (representing Wales Tourist Board in Australia)
will endeavor to complete the course and hopefully take out the Championships!
Held annually in November and lasting for 10 days, this is the longest beer festival in the UK. Held in various Free Houses in the town, it offers of the widest selections of real ales in one place at the same time. There were over 100 ales on offer in 2003 and entertainment includes a male voice choir concert.
The Real Ale Wobble takes place in conjunction with the Mid Wales Beer Festival, on way marked routes and with a choice of distances each day. Entrance is £16 for two days, including free beer refreshment at checkpoints, so routes are off road!
Similar to the Wobble, but for walkers instead of mountain bike riders, this takes place through way marked routes through unsurpassed scenery. Again, there’s free beer at checkpoints and in the evening, ramblers can relax with real ale and entertainment in the town.
A re-enactment of Mari Lwyd, an old Welsh tradition where people carry the Mari (a horse skull on a long pole) from house to house. There’s a torch lit procession that's lead through the town by a cloaked figure crowned with a horse’s skull, stopping at houses for a spot of poetry jousting! This magical walkabout then heads back into town for a fantastic fireworks display and general carousing. Admission free, book early for accommodation.
The International Bogsnorkelling Championships which is due to take place on August Bank Holiday in the UK, Monday – 25th August , on the southern outskirts of the smallest town in Britain – Llanwrtyd Wells in Mid Wales, is now in its 18 year!
Some 'wacky' travel photography - Click here