Gŵyl Ifan 2015 - a great success
A fantastic weekend of non-stop dancing took place this year during the Gŵyl Ifan festival, held on 19-20 of June. This annual summer celebration is arranged by members of Cardiff’s official Welsh folk dancing team, Cwmni Dawns Werin Caerdydd, and this year we were delighted to mark the occasion’s 39th year alongside our honoured guests from Ireland, Comhaltas Baile Núis from Newcestown, Cork.
The weekend’s festivities began with an energetic twmpath at the Angel Hotel in central Cardiff on the Friday evening, where it was wonderful to enjoy the general public and the Irish dancing enthusiastically while friends from dance teams across Wales took to the floor, including Dawnswyr Môn from Anglesea and Twrch Trwyth, Pen-y-Fai and Gwerinwyr Gwent from the south. Working especially hard were the band and the callers, who managed the logistics of the dancing expertly and ensured that everybody knew precisely where they had to be and when.
Twmpath attendees however were also treated to a wealth of traditional Celtic culture. The Comhaltas team’s performance was excellent as they blended a mixture of dancing, traditional music and lively songs into their set. Similarly, the rich voices of the Côr Meibion Taf entertained us all with some of Wales’s most famous and most favourite numbers. In all, it was a majestic evening and a good time was had by all without too many bruised toes!
On Saturday the 20th of June, the day began very differently from previous years as the Gŵyl Ifan procession made its way to Cardiff Bay by water taxi, ensuring that each of the dancers, the musicians and even the summer pole was safely and serenely transported to the iconic Roald Dahl Plass. Most fortunately, the sun was shining on our endeavours and there was no need for any life jackets!
Over 100 of us disembarked that morning and followed the summer pole through Mermaid Quay towards the Ivor Norvello statue, which was quite a sight to behold as all of the colourful costumes and numerous banners gathered together to celebrate the summer solstice. However, once we’d reached the Wales Millennium Centre, the serious business of raising the pole began, with the Cadi Ha dance and the antics of Pwnsh and Siwan keeping all of the eager audience on its toes. Once the pole was decorated in all of its ribbony finery, it could be raised into its place and Cardiff could finally and officially welcome the sunny days to come.
Throughout the day the dancers separated into two groups in order to continue to entertain the public, some at the Landsea Gardens stage and others at the beautiful Pierhead building before coming together at the end of the afternoon for mass dancing in the Roald Dahl basin. Each visitor to Cardiff Bay that day (including all of those who’d ventured forth to watch the sailing boats drift by) was afforded a unique opportunity to savour the best that Wales and Ireland could offer in terms of traditional dancing and many rushed to join in.
Not even such a full day was enough to draw the celebrations to a close however. After a quick change, each of the dancers and musicians was once again back at the Angel Hotel’s Dragon suite and ready to feast in their finest costumes. The evening’s taplas enabled the socialising to continue, with many of Wales’s most favourite dances being performed – including of course Gŵyl Ifan itself! Thanks once again to the hardworking band and callers, without whom the event simply couldn’t take place.
Sunday morning witnessed many fond farewells, especially to our Irish friends, before Gŵyl Ifan drew to a close for one more year.
We’d like to extend enormous thanks to everybody who attended, participated in and organised this year’s successful festival as we turn our attention to next year’s preparations. 2016 is a huge milestone for the festival as it will be Gŵyl Ifan’s 40th year and the planning has already begun!
Remember, if you’d like to attend next year’s festival, contact us! There’s a warm welcome to everybody – whether your dancing shoes are well worn or whether they’ve been barely broken in, no matter! Join us in making the next Gŵyl Ifan the best one yet!