This week the National Eisteddfod is being held near the village of Bodedern on Anglesey. This is the largest festival held in Wales every year and has all sorts of fun activities for the family. It can be a stressful time for parents so we’ve put together a survival guide to ensure you make the most of this iconic family event.
1. Plan ahead
Plan your visit before starting off. There is plenty of useful information on the Eisteddfod website including directions to the Maes (the Eisteddfod field), car parking instructions and some useful general information. Find out more here.
2. Charge your mobile
Make sure your mobile is fully charged. Taking photos and trying to find friends/family on the Maes can use up your battery fast.
3. Go early to avoid queues
The Eisteddfod is renowned for it’s long queues, especially in the first few days while everyone gets used to the extra volume of traffic and the parking arrangements. This year could prove to be even worse with two bridges slowing traffic down onto the island. Expect queues everywhere, to the Maes, to park, to the entrance, to the toilets – it can’t be avoided. The best advice is to go early and try and avoid the queues.
Make a mental note of where you have parked your car. With a number of large fields all looking the same it can be confusing to try and find your car amongst thousands. Make a mental note of a landmark, e.g. third tree on the left etc. You could also tie something to your car aerial – a colourful plastic bag or something – so that you can spot your car from a distance.
5. Pick up a map
Maps are available at the entrance so pick some up for everyone as you arrive. You can find your way around and know exactly what’s on the Maes and plan your day accordingly. You can also find out about some of the places on the Maes beforehand.
6. Translation equipment
The Eisteddfod is a Welsh language festival, but this does not mean it’s for Welsh speakers only. You can ask for free translation equipment at the Translation Centre near the Pavilion. This will be especially useful if you are planning on going to see any of the competitions at the Pavilion.
7. Be weather prepared
A lot of the chat on the Maes focuses around the weather! As this is a mostly open-air event the weather is a big factor. Raining in a field inevitably means mud, and the Eisteddfod can be very, very muddy – which can add to the fun! We can cross our fingers for sun but whatever the weather you need to be prepared. You will need a raincoat and wellies if it’s raining, or sun cream and hats if it’s sunny. Check the weather forecast beforehand so you’re well prepared. The Eisteddfod always means plenty of walking so make sure you wear your comfiest shoes.
8. Younger children
There is a lot of walking involved going around the Maes and little legs can get very tired by the end of the day. Take a buggy. Even if they do last the day a pushchair is always useful to carry all your bags.
Ask for a wristband at the entrance to put on the younger children, you can write your contact details on them. And remember to explain to your children how they should search for help if they get lost.
9. Older children
The Eisteddfod Maes is a relatively safe environment to allow your older children the freedom to go off with their friends. Make sure they agree to meet you at a certain time and place and that they are aware of where this is. You could also write your contact details and put it in their pocket as a precaution. The Maes can be a maze to get around at times and it can be very easy to lose your loved ones so it may be a good idea to set a meeting point if anyone does get lost in case mobile signal is iffy with so many people congregated in one place.
10. Eating and drinking
Take plenty of drinks, foods and snacks with you. There are plenty of food stalls on the Maes but prices can be very expensive. You can also set the kids a challenge to find free food or drinks – freebies are great at the Eisteddfod and sometimes these can include bottled water and sweets.
11. Have plenty of small change
There will be lots of free things to do but also lots of lovely stalls with souvenirs and lots of affordable small things for children. It might be an idea to give your children some pocket money before they go so they know they have a limit on how much they have to spend
12. Freebie hunting
Bags at the ready! For children the Eisteddfod is all about the freebies – free pens, stickers, sweets, badges, leaflets and merchandise. Hunting the Eisteddfod freebies should be an Olympic Sport! Take a bag with you to hold everything, even though most of it will probably end up in the bin by the end of the week!
13. S4C’s performances for children
S4C have family shows every day on their stand from the Cyw (S4C’s preschool programming) and Stwnsh (for older children) teams. The shows are very, very popular and it can be hard to get tickets. Tickets are free but you need to be quick. Head to the S4C stand as soon as you arrive to see if there are any tickets left for that mornings performances, or at 1:45pm for afternoon performances. If you don’t get a ticket don’t worry, as the Cyw team will be singing and dancing outside the stand at certain points during the day. Check out their schedule here.
14. Free activities
There are lots of activities being put on every day to entertain the children and attract people to their stalls. Keep an eye out on the stalls and ask at the reception what’s on so that you don’t miss out. Find out about some of the things happening on the website.
15. Have fun
Most of all – have fun. Soak in the Welsh heritage all around you. Enjoy this special and unique festival and immerse yourself in the song, the dance, the arts and the fun of it all.
If there are any other problems your family is having, then call our advisors on the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. They can help you to find organisations that can help.