Four of Wales’ best-loved festivals – Festival of Voice, FOCUS Wales, Other Voices Cardigan and Aberystwyth Comedy Festival – have joined forces in lockdown to create Gŵyl 2021, a free online festival.
An Extraordinary Digital Gathering
The festival is bursting with unforgettable music and comedy, embracing diversity and dialogue. Filmed or recorded over recent months in Wales and internationally within Coronavirus guidelines, Gŵyl 2021 will broadcast online on www.bbc.co.uk/gwyl2021 across the weekend of 6th-7th March 2021.
The Gŵyl 2021 online festival will celebrate the established and be a discovery of the eclectic. With acts from Wales and further afield, the line-up includes Cate Le Bon in collaboration with Gruff Rhys, the award-winning Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Tim Burgess’ Listening Party, and Catrin Finch. Additionally, you can watch BERWYN (BBC Music Sound of 2021), Carys Eleri (Adelaide Fringe Festival winner), Arlo Parks and Dani Rain, the drumming force behind Neck Deep.
Other highlights confirmed include Charlotte Adigéry and post-punk Welsh Music Prize winners Adwaith. Irish poet and art-rock pioneer Sinead O’Brien. Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Jordan Brookes will also be performing. You can catch Welsh Language Album of the Year winner Ani Glass and Dublin four-piece Sprints, as well as Cardiff-based Guinean griot musician N’Famady Kouyate and sketch group Tarot. Dance company Jukebox Collective have curated several performances. These acts include reggae artist Aleighcia, RnB/soul artist Faith, singer and rapper Reuel, spoken word artist Jaffrin Khan and more.
There’s a one-off act by Brett Anderson, Charles Hazlewood and Paraorchestra also featuring special guests Nadine Shah, Adrian Utley and Seb Rochford. Furthermore, you can see episodes of the comedy podcasts Welcome to Spooktown and I Wish I Was an Only Child. These podcasts feature guest appearances from famous Welsh faces.
The festival also makes international links as FOCUS Wales hosts artists from across Canada as well as exclusive, interactive performances. Additionally, S4C will broadcast exclusive highlights from Other Voices Cardigan.
BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and bbc.co.uk/gwyl2021 will broadcast the confirmation of the full line-up and schedule and the festival itself. Content from the festival will be available to view again later for seven days on the BBC platform.
Quote from Graeme Farrow, Artistic Director of Wales Millennium Centre: “Festival of Voice has been the highlight of our calendar since 2016 and last year’s festival was shaping up to be no exception. The pandemic dashed the exciting and ambitious plans we’d made, however.
We’re all delighted to work with such outstanding partners to deliver Gŵyl 2021. We hope it brings a bit of much-needed joy to blow away the cobwebs.”
Quote from Henry Widdicombe, Aberystwyth Comedy Festival: “We couldn’t be more delighted to be working with three other amazing Welsh festivals to deliver this event.”
Quote from Neal Thompson, FOCUS Wales: “We are happy that FOCUS Wales has worked in partnership with three of Wales’ best-known festivals to create Gŵyl 2021. We are certainly looking forward to celebrating Wales’ rich and diverse cultural offering with some outstanding music and comedy.”
Dilwyn Davies, Other Voices Cardigan, says, “Other Voices and Mwldan are also super excited at the prospect of an extraordinary weekend of music and comedy. During a time of separation, distance and lockdown, it’s important that we share and celebrate the riches of our diverse culture.”
Quote from Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of BBC Cymru Wales: “BBC Wales is delighted to be working with Gŵyl 2021. We all need a blast of creativity, comedy and music right now and this partnership with four brilliant Welsh festivals undoubtedly promises to be a real gem.”
Welsh Government supports GŴYL 2021.
Get involved on social media, using the hashtag #gŵyl2021
Festival of Voice
Festival of Voice showcases world-class live music, performance, debate and discussion at the Wales Millennium Centre. The centre is home to the arts in Wales.
Working with emerging and established local, national and international artists, we create live experiences that celebrate the voice in all its forms. They challenge artists to take risks and explore the boundaries of genre and form. This event is truly international and firmly rooted in the Welsh capital.
FOCUS Wales is an international multi-venue showcase festival in Wrexham, North Wales. It places the music industry spotlight firmly on the emerging talent that Wales has to offer the world. It also provides some of the best new acts from across the globe. FOCUS Wales 2021 will mark the festival’s 10th edition.
Now in its 20th year, Other Voices is a glorious celebration of music in all its diversity. It began as an intimate musical gathering in a tiny church in Dingle. Ireland’s iconic festival has since hosted a series of global events in Austin, London, Belfast, Berlin, Derry and New York. A further 35 million people have experienced the festival online. Their digital ‘Courage’ series reached 2.7 million in 2020 and brought live music safely back into people’s lives. Performances ranged from Lisa Hannigan to Fontaines D.C and more.
In 2019, the tiny West Wales town of Cardigan joined their family. This cemented the ties between two Celtic communities who live, work, and play on their respective countries’ wild westerly coasts. Other Voices Cardigan presents a stunning live music programme. It also features compelling dialogue around the intersection of art, culture, technology and commerce. Hosted by Huw Stephens and Kizzy Crawford, Other Voices Cardigan is a partnership between South Winds Blows, Mwldan and Triongl.
Aberystwyth Comedy Festival
Aberystwyth Comedy Festival launched as a complementary event to the already established Machynlleth Comedy Festival in 2018. Whilst Machynlleth is a festival where comedians can try new ideas and experiment, Aberystwyth deals with finished shows instead. In the two years since Aberystwyth launched, it has become a cornerstone of the comedy calendar. It hosts a raft of up-and-coming comedy talent from across Wales and beyond. Shows have featured the likes of James Acaster, Rhod Gilbert, and Suzi Ruffell.
It’s also spawned its own BBC Radio Wales series, Live from Aberystwyth Pier, hosted by Kiri Pritchard-McLean. The abundance of performance spaces dotted along the seafront and on the campus particularly lend themselves perfectly to a comedy festival by the sea.
FOCUS Wales is supported by The Arts Council of Wales and The Welsh Government. FOCUS Wales was the winner of Best Festival for Emerging Talent at the UK Festival Awards and has been recently shortlisted for a European Festival Award.
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Main image: Kidsmoke by Steven Davies