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Celtic Festival of Wales

Event - Cwlwm Celtaidd, Wales' Interceltic Festival
Location - Porthcawl
Date - 27 February - 1 March 2015

Website

It's almost that time of year again when the seaside resort of Porthcawl reverberates to the sound of some great Celtic music.  It's time for the annual Cwlwm Celtaidd, Wales' Interceltic Festival.

Singers, dancers and musicians from Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Brittany, the Isle of Man and of course Wales descend on the seaside resort of Porthcawl and its Grand Pavilion for three days of concerts, performances and sessions. 

Although the pavilion is the base for the weekend's festivities, the whole town gets into the Celtic spirit with events happening throughout the resort.

To find out more, including which artisits are appearing and the programme for the weekend, please visit the website.

The Christmas Pudding Run

This is the village of Merthyr Mawr near Bridgend.  It's an idyllic little settlement, as picturesque as they come, with an outstanding collection of thatched cottages positioned around an old village green.

Despite being a relatively small village, there's plenty of interesting places to visit.  The 'Dipping Bridge' was built in the 15th century, the holes in the sides allowed farmers to push their sheep into the River Ogmore for a seasonal dip!

Just down the lane lie the remains of Candleston Castle, once a 15th century fortified mansion house, whilst nearby Ogmore Castle is probably the most picturesque castle in Wales.

Just beyond the castle is one of the biggest sand dune systems in Europe.  It once stretched for miles, right around Swansea Bay and some of the dunes are as big as small mountains.  The dunes are an important wildlife habitat and site of scientific interest, which shelters a rich variety of plants. Parts of the Hollywood blockbuster 'Lawrence of Arabia' were filmed here.

Every year, just before Christmas, hundreds of amateur athletes descend on the village for the annual Christmas Pudding Run.

The race is a challenging multi-terrain, six mile run that winds its way through the sand dune system.  The route starts with an ascent of the highest single sand dune in Europe - the fearsome Big Dipper. 

But it doesn't end there, the race then continues with even more climbs, over rough moorland and through several streams before eventually the runners get to the finish line.

And the prize for completing this gruelling course……a Christmas pudding of course!

A Taste of Wales

This weekend sees Wales' biggest and best food festival come to Abergavenny.

The historic market town, which has a great reputation amongst foodies will be full of stands, stalls and exhibitors giving visitors, quite literally a taste, of Wales. 

Complementing the stalls are a variety of masterclasses, tastings and talks whilst there is plenty to keep the kids happy with workshops, story telling and live music.

Don't worry if you can't make it to Abergavenny, there are two more great food festivals coming up over the next few weeks. 

Look our for the Bridgend Food Feastival (26-27 September) and the Newport Food Festival (4 October)

Elvis Comes to Porthcawl

Event - Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Location - Porthcawl
Date - 26 - 28 September 2014
Website


On the face of it Porthcawl seems to be a typical British seaside resort.  Just 30 minutes from Cardiff, the town has everything you would expect - sandy beaches, a fairground, seafront Grand Pavilion and of course fish and chip shops.

Every September, the otherwise tranquil town comes alive as the unlikely venue for one of the world's biggest and best Elvis Presley festivals.

The Porthcawl Elvis Festival sees the town swamped with fans, lookalikes and tribute acts all enjoying the atmosphere and the various concerts and events throughout the area.

The festival is centred on the historic Grand Pavilion, a traditional sea front theatre which is host to the main concerts but the whole town gets in on the act with various events happening throughout the resort all weekend.

The highlight of the weekend is the big Elvies award ceremony where the best Elvis impersonators are rewarded for their work.

Wales Open Golf

Continuing to build on the success of hosting the 2010 Ryder Cup, the Celtic Manor Resort near Newport will find itself back in the golfing spotlight this week as it hosts the 2014 Wales Open.

First held in 2000 the tournament is now firmly established on the European Tour and attracts some of the biggest names in golf.  This year's competitors include Lee Westwood, Jamie Donaldson and Thomas Bjorn.

More information is available on the website

Tour de Cymru

Event - Tour of Britain
Location - The Tumble, Abergavenny
Date - 9 September 2014
For more information visit the website

Fresh from hosting the British National Road Race Championships in June, top class cycling returns to Abergavenny this September as the town hosts the finish of the 3rd stage of the 2014 Tour of Britain.

The race has finished in Caerphilly for the past three years and has seen tens of thousands of people flock to the town and nearby Caerphilly Mountain to catch a glimpse of the action and create a superb party atmosphere.

The fans are sure to be out in force this year as well, with the riders taking on a route that will see them start out in the Mid Wales town of Newtown. 

The peleton will continue south with the road taking them through Knighton, Builth Wells and Brecon and over some tough climbs in the Brecon Beacons National Park.  The action will then culminate with a climb to the top of the Tumble Mountain above Abergavenny, a route that could suit local favourite Geraint Thomas.

The cyclists taking part will be confirmed nearer the time, but previous participants have included former world champions Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish, current Giro d'Italia champion Nairo Quintana  and ex-Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.

Seniors Get in the Swing

Event - Seniors Open Golf
Location - Royal Porthcawl Golf Club

Date - 24-27 July 2014
For more information visit the website

The biggest sporting event of the year in South East Wales is almost upon us.  Golf's senior British Open gets underway at the Royal Porthcawl golf course next Thursday.  It will be the first time that Wales hosts a major championship.

Some of the sport's legendary figures are due to take part including Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie.  They'll all be competing to follow in the footsteps of 2013 champion, Mark Wiebe, and claim first prize in what promises to be an exciting weekend of top golf action.

For more information on the tournament, including how to secure tickets, please visit the website.

Survival of the Fittest

Event - Celts Survival Run
Location - Kenfig National Nature Reserve, Porthcawl
Date - 23 August 2014
For more information visit the website

This is most definitely not a gentle fun run.  It's not even a marathon with a few gentle challenges thrown in along the way.  Oh, no. This is the Celts Survival Run - an International Extreme Endurance Event.

At 50km long the course would be tough enough on its own, but this is not a straight forward race.  As well as running that extreme distance, competitors will be expected to overcome a series of brutal obstacles.

The route takes the competitors through the stunning scenery of the Kenfig National Nature Reserve and along the South Wales coast to the huge Merthyr Mawr sand dunes before finishing at Ogmore Castle, not that the runners will have a chance to appreciate their surroundings.

The race will put competitors in true survival mode and challenges along the route may include carrying, climbing, throwing, digging, building and swimming.  Not many people will finish the course; fewer still will have completed all the obstacles along the way.

Most of the challenges will not be revealed until the day of the race, so competitors will have to be ready for anything.

Are you tough enough to give it a go?

(Please note, this is an extremely tough and dangerous race.  It is only for very fit and very experienced ultra-marathon runners.  If that's not you, then do not enter)

A Feast of Festivals

This autumn, Southern Wales will be awash with food festivals, celebrating the very best in local food and drink.

The first festival of the season takes place in the picturesque surroundings of the St Fagans National History Museum on the weekend of 6-7 September.  Located on the outskirts of Cardiff, the 100 acre site houses many of Wales' most historic buildings and interspersed amongst them will be dozens of stalls serving up some hearty treats.  Cheeses, ciders and ice creams will be amongst some of the goodies you can indulge in.

Just two weeks later (20-21 September), the biggest food festival of them all hits Abergavenny. Now in its 16th year, the event is as popular as ever.

The historic market town, which has a great reputation amongst foodies, will be full of stands, stalls and exhibitors giving visitors, quite literally a taste, of Wales.  The various venues are situated close together and include the Market Hall, the Cheese and Wine Show, and Grillstock.

Complementing the stalls are a variety of master classes, tastings and talks whilst there is plenty to keep the kids happy with workshops, storytelling and live music.

The following weekend (26-27 Septemerb), it's time for something slightly different with Bridgend's Food Festival.  Called Feastival, and billed as Wale's Alternative Food Festival, there's always something different or unusual going on.  Previous years' activities have included the Giant Cauliflour Sheep (you really do need to watch this YouTube video), the Leaning Tower of Pizza and the Orange-utan.

Finally, it's Newport's turn with its festival on Saturday 4th October.  Amongst all the usual stalls there'll be an array of talks, demonstrations and  workshops for you to enjoy.

For more information on any of these festivals, click on the links below
St Fagans Food Festival
Abergavenny Food Festival
Bridgend Feastival
Newport Food Festival

Newport 360

Roman CaerleonStanding on the banks of the River Usk, the city of Newport and the surrounding area is packed with things to see and do.

And now to help you find your way about, a new tourism guide has been launched.  Called Newport 360, the guide hears from local people about what visitors can expect to find on a visit to the city and the wider region.

Amongst the highlights you can expect to find on a visit is the iconic Transporter Bridge.  It is one of only eight such bridges remaining in the world.  Built in 1906, the elaborate design was needed in order to allow tall ships to pass up the river to Newport Docks.  Today visitors can cross the river on the suspended gondola or the brave can climb the stairs and cross the high level walkway, a mere 177 feet above the ground.  Enjoy the view.

From the top of the Transporter Bridge, you should be able to spot Tredegar House on the outskirts of the city.  Standing in 90 acres of glorious parkland, the estate was once the home of the aristocratic and somewhat eccentric Morgan family.  Visitors can explore this National Trust property and discover how both the masters and their servants lived and worked.

Newport's history goes back even further.  All the way back to Roman times in fact.  The small town of Caerleon to the north of the city was once the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire and home to hundreds of soldiers.  Today, visitors can explore the remains of the legion's amphitheatre, barracks and baths whilst the National Roman Legion Museum tells the town's story.

Head from Roman times up to the 21st century, and 2010 in particular.  The  eyes of the sporting world focused on Newport when Golf's Ryder Cup was staged at the Celtic Manor Resort.  The tournament put this world class resort firmly in the spotlight and it now boasts 3 world class golf courses including the famous 2010 course which saw Europe triumph in dramatic circumstances.

It's not only the golf that makes a visit to the Celtic Manor worthwhile.  The resort boasts a luxurious 400 room hotel together with fine dining restaurants and spa facilities. 

There's plenty of other accommodation available in the area with high quality accommodation available from the like of Hilton and Holiday Inn whilst for something a little bit different you can stay in a lighthouse overlooking the Severn Estuary.

To download your copy of the Newport 360 visitor guide, please click here