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The Best Festivals and Fairs in Wales

by Roisin McAuley  |  Published January 14, 2020

A small country packed with unique traditions, beautiful scenery and a wealth homegrown talent, Wales’ event calendar celebrates the vibrancy it has to offer.

Wales puts on many a show this year (Photo via Tafwyl Fair)

From action sports to literature festivals, 2020 sees a dynamic range of events crop up in Welsh towns, cities and even creeping into its countryside. We’ve put together our selection of the very best events set to take place from January to December – hopefully you’ll get a chance to attend at least some of them. And if you can’t make them this year, remember to check the dates for future editions on the festival websites, too.

IMMERSED FESTIVAL
Inform, entertain and empower: these are aims of music festival Immersed. Organised by the University of South Wales, in collaboration with the Music Managers Forum and in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust, Immersed provides a platform to the best upcoming artists in the region. Over one day, three showcases on music creation, collaboration and production create a participatory exhibition that provides insight into music-making in 2020. Organised as a conference, symposium and music festival, the acts headling this year will be Richard Ashcroft, Tom Grennan and Bad Sounds.

Location: Tramshed, Cardiff. Dates: 30 January 2020

BANFF MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL

Bringing epic human-powered feats, life-affirming challenges and mind-blowing cinematography Wales, the Banff Mountain Film Festival showcases the best adventure filmmakers and their inspiring protagonists. The festival takes place over two nights, one in February and one in April, where different adrenaline-pounding films will be screened. Passionate explorers and film fans can enjoy a two-show discount, available online.

Location: Venue Cymru, Llandudno. Dates: 1 February & 23 April 2020

SMASH FEST 

DIY label Smash Mouse Records are bringing a weekend of punk and alternative music to Cardiff with Smash Fest. The label aims to give a platform local talent and bring the audience the best of their network of punk and alternative bands. With this in mind, the stage will be taken over by an abundance of Welsh musicians, joined by a selection of their U.K counterparts. Individual day passes can be bought for Saturday and Sunday, as well as full weekend passes; entry to Friday evening performances are free of charge.

Location: The Moon Cardiff. Dates: 28 February – 1 March 2020

Head to the Brecon Beacons National Park for the Crickhowell Walking Festival © Crickhowell Walking Festival

CRICKHOWELL WALKING FESTIVAL

In need of a little motivation to keep you on track with your fitness goals for the year? Then why not escape to Wales’ great outdoors with the Crickhowell Walking Festival! Hosting nine walks within the Brecon Beacons National Park, the festival’s programme attracts outdoor enthusiasts and hiking novices. From endurance challenges to mindfulness workshops and walks, the programmers of the walking festival ensure there is something for everyone over the week. Evening events include pub quizzes, delicious food and music; filling days with a healthy balance of exercise and entertainment!

Location: Brecon Beacons National Park. Dates: 7 – 15 March 2020

THE PRISONER CONVENTION

In celebration of the 1967 classic television series The Prisoner, Portmeirion hosts the annual Prisoner Convention in the very village the series was filmed. The weekend will include private talks for Six of One Members – the official Prisoner society – with activities open to the public including the Election Parade, Tally-Ho Theatre, and Human Chess, followed by a special performance by David Rhodes and the PortmeiriCon Ukulele Band!

Location: Portmeirion Village. Dates: 24 – 26 April 2020

Celebrate all things woolly at Wonderwools (Photo: John Teale)

WONDERWOOLS

Celebrating all things wonderful about wool, this festival hosts everything from exhibits of sheep, through knitting materials and books, to beautiful wool creations: textile art, clothing and home furnishings. Over the weekend, the event provides a platform to small wool and fibre producers in Wales. In an era where environmentalism is vital, Wonderwools celebrates the green credentials of Welsh wool as well as its versatility: with its potential uses including creative crafts, designer clothes and many more.

Location: Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells. Dates: 25 – 26 April 2020

MACHYNLLETH COMEDY FESTIVAL 

Machynlleth Comedy Festival returns for another year to the enchanting Welsh town of Machynlleth. Featuring new names alongside as-seen-on-tv acts like Joe Lycett, this comedy festival fills the town’s quirky venues with laughter over the first weekend of May. Tickets for individual shows are available to buy online, some shows are free and others are priced up to £19.50. It’s advised to organise your accommodation in advance as this normally small, country town expands greatly during the festival.

Location: Various Venues, Machynlleth. Dates: 1 – 3 May 2020

Action sports arrive in Wales for the Nitro World Games (Photo: Nitro Circus)

NITRO WORLD GAMES

Nitro World Games pushes the limits of action sports competition, featuring FMX, BMX, scooter and skate events. The world’s top athletes across these sports will be heading to Wales this May to compete for titles in these disciplines. Taking this event outside of the U.S for the first time, Olympic snowboarder and television commentator Todd Richards will return as the official host accompanied by event-founder Travis Pastrana and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. Day tickets for the semi-finals and finals are available individually as well as weekend tickets for both events.

Location: Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Dates: 23 24 May 2020

Literature and Arts Hay festival returns to Hay-on-Wye (Photo: Elisabeth Broekaert)

HAY FESTIVAL 

Travelling from Columbia to Croatia, and from Mexico to the Middle East, Hay Festival will return to Wales this year. The Literature & Arts festival, once referred to by Bill Clinton as “The Woodstock of the mind,” is an annual literature festival held in Hay-on-Wye featuring a number of writers, comedians and musicians hosting talks and workshops. Already announced as part of the festival is Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour, with other performances and acts expected to be announced throughout the year, so check their website to keep up-to-date! The festival programme is packed with diversity and variety, including family-friendly and children’s events. Tickets range from £5 to £40, with some activities and workshops free of charge.

Location: Hay-on-Wye. Dates: 21 – 31 May 2020

THE WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY SOCIETY’S REAL ALE FESTIVAL 

The annual Rail Ale Festival combines an eclectic mix of real ales and ciders, with a variety of music, food and, of course, steam trains. A selection of local breweries will be represented at the event, bringing popular as well as specially brewed ales to customers over the weekend.

Location:  Ffestiniog Railway Dates: 5 – 7 June 2020

LLANGOLLEN INTERNATIONAL MUSICAL EISTEDDFOD 

Every summer since 1947, Llangollen has been the proud host to the best of music and folk dance from all over the world, and this summer is no different! Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod returns for a seven-day extravaganza, where song and dance are celebrated through a combination of competition, performance and showcases of international peace and friendship. A highlight of the event includes the competition’s prestigious ‘Choir of the World’, which determines the best choir of the event.

Location: Bute Park, Cardiff. Dates: 7 – 12 June 2020

TEWKESBURY MEDIEVAL FESTIVAL  

Over a summer weekend in July, the town of Tewkesbury is transformed by history enthusiasts, re-enactors and traders flocking from across Europe to participate in one of the most popular Medieval gatherings on the continent. Tewkesbury is taken back in time with daily re-enactments, skirmishes and “beheadings” outside the Abbey on Saturday evening. Tewkesbury Battlefield Society will run the exhibition tent and across the festival, you’ll find Medieval inspired crafts and performers: minstrels, jugglers, stilt walkers, friendly dragons, and bears, with the last day of the festival culminating in a vibrant parade through the town.

Location: Tewkesbury. Dates: 11 – 12 July 2020 

The very best of Welsh culture will be at Bute Park this year (Photo via Tafwyl Fair)

TAFWYL FAIR

Celebrating Welsh language, arts and culture, Tafwyl returns for its 13th year; relocating to Bute Park as its increasing popularity has led it to outgrow traditional-home Cardiff Castle. Across nine days, Tafwyl brings a mix of music, literature, drama, comedy, art, sports, food and drink to the capital. Making a positive contribution to the Welsh language, the festival welcomes both Welsh and non-Welsh speakers alike, aiming to increase interaction with the language and grow its audience. Entrance to Tafwyl Fair is free; some activities incur a small fee but the majority are without charge.

Location: Bute Park, Cardiff. Dates: 19 – 21 June 2020

THE GREEN GATHERING FESTIVAL

A festival built on sustainable initiatives, the Green Gathering combines the passions of festival lovers, environmentalists, campaigners, gardeners, musicians, philosophers, artists plus many more, to create a weekend where attendees “can party your heart out; then wake up and work out how to make the world a better place.” There’s plenty of entertainment, wellbeing practices and education showcased over the weekend, including kid’s activities to guarantee there is something to keep even the youngest family members engaged. Individual adults and child tickets are available, as well as tickets for coaches and campervans.

Location: Chepstow. Dates: 30 July – 2 August 2020

Festival goers getting creative at The Green Gathering Festival (Photo: The Green Gathering Festival)

BRECON JAZZ FESTIVAL 
Brecon returns in 2020 to host jazz musicians from all across the world at its annual jazz festival. The festival transforms the town, creeping into every corner as the cafes and streets embrace jazz over the weekend. The line up is yet to be announced, so check out their website for more information closer to the time.

Location: Aberhonddu, Brecon. Dates: 7 – 9 August 2020

GREEN MAN FESTIVAL 
For one week in August, take the opportunity to escape to the outdoors, camping and exploring miles of mountains, forests, waterfalls and rivers that fill the Welsh landscape.  Located near to the Brecon Beacons, the festival brings a variety of entertainment to the countryside. Guests can enjoy comedy, literature, art, science, music as well as workshops, outdoor adventures and family activities. Your pass will gain special discounts on local heritage sites, galleries, castles and more; so get ready for summer exploring the very best of Wales.

Location: Brecon Beacons. Dates: 20 – 23 August 2020

Food lovers from all corners of the industry come together at Abergavenny Food Festival (Photo: Artur Tixiliski via Abergavenny Food Festival)

ABERGAVENNY FOOD FESTIVAL 

Uniting culinary enthusiasts, Abergavenny Food Festival hosts chefs, food businesses, journalists, farmers and food producers for a weekend in September. Showcasing the evolving Welsh food scene, the foodie paradise arrives at Abergavenny’s Market Hall, where attendees will get the opportunity to enjoy product tastings, kids’ activities, masterclasses, hands-on cookery lessons and topical debates. Tickets can be bough for the entire weekend, individual days or specific events. 

Location: Market Hall, Abergavenny. Dates: 19- 20 September 2020

PORTHCAWL ELVIS FESTIVAL

A unique celebration to The King returns for 2020. Thousands of Elvis fans are expected to descend on the Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl to celebrate the icon, making this event the biggest of its kind in the world. The Grand Pavilion will be the stage for a number of competitions will take place, with a highlight of the weekend being the The Elvies: recognised as the world’s leading award show for  Elvis Tribute Artists, it determines the very best of this year’s competitors.

Location: Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl 25– 27 September 2020

SŴN FESTIVAL 

Sŵn is Welsh for sound or noise, and this festival is all about finding the best new Welsh music. Founded by BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens and Cardiff-based promoter John Rostron, Sŵn Festival is a music festival that has aimed to highlight new music, emerging artists and homegrown acts since its inception. Hosted across multiple venues of Cardiff’s city centre, the capital transforms into a hub for music-makers and music-lovers looking to discover new music.

Location: Cardiff.  Dates: 16 – 18 October 2020

The real ale Wobber kicks off the 10-day beer festival (Photo via the Real Ale Wobble)

REAL ALE WOBBLE

If you like bikes and beer, then this is the event for you. The 2020 edition of the mountain biking event marks the beginning of the Llanwrtyd Wells’ 10-day Beer Festival. This non-competitive event hosts events for both serious bikers and enthusiastic amateurs, with bike routes navigating some of the best trails and scenery Mid Wales has to offer… all whilst sampling a few beers along the way! After the ride, and often the night before, riders enjoy real ales and beers as the festival gets into full swing in the town with live music, food and, of course, a wealth of beers!

Location: Llanwrtyd Wells. Dates: 16 November 2020