Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Archive for tag: new year

New Year Races

Nos GalanNos Galan Races
Mountain Ash
31 December 2013
Website -

It might still be over 2 months away but preparations for one of Wales' more unique new year celebrations are well underway.

The races, which this year celebrates its 55th anniversary, are held each New Year's Eve in memory of local folk hero Guto Nyth Bran.  It was said that he could run from Mountain Ash to Pontypridd and back in the time it took a kettle to boil.

Hundreds of people take part in the races whilst hundreds more line the streets in encouragement. The highlight of the night will be the arrival of a Mystery Runner who will represent the spirit of Guto, carrying the torch from his graveside at St Gwynno's Church down the hillside to the town centre four miles away.

Previous Mystery Runners have included Linford Christie, John Hartson, James Hook, Shane Williams and Dai Greene.

If you're tempted to take part, then online registration is now open, just go to

Nadolig Llawen

Cardiff's Winter WonderlandSouthern Wales Tourism would like to wish everyone a Merry Chritsmas.  Nadolig Llawen i chi gyd.

And just in case you've had enough of turkey, chocolates and Christmas TV bear in mind some of the great events happening over the festive period.

25 December
The Porthcawl Christmas Morning Swim
The brave (of foolish) take to the icy seas and Porthcawl's Coney Beach to raise money for local charities.  You're welcome to join in or take the sensible option and watch from the shore.

27 December
The Welsh Grand National
Chepstow Racecourse in the beautiful Wye Valley is the setting for the running of Wales' most prestigious horse race. 

27 December
Dragons v Blues
It's a local derby in the Rugby's Magners League at Newport's Rodney Parade ground.  Expect a passionate atmosphere and great rugby as these rivals go head to head

31 January
Calennig, New Year Celebrations
Wave goodbye to 2010 and say hello to 2011 at Cardiff's New Year celebrations on City Hall Lawn.  Ice skating, live music and a spectacular firework display will welcome in the new year.

Y Fari Lwyd

Mari LwydWhilst Cardiff celebrates the New Year with music, ice skating and fireworks, the people of the small village of Llangynwyd near Bridgend celebrate in a totally different and unique way.

The village is home to the Mari Lwyd, one of the strangest and most ancient of a number of customs with which people in Glamorgan and Gwent used to mark the passing of the darkest days of midwinter.

The Mari Lwyd consists of a mare's skull fixed to the end of a wooden pole; white sheets are fastened to the base of the skull, concealing the pole and the person carrying the Mari. The lower jaw is sometimes spring-loaded, so that the Mari's 'operator' can snap it at passers-by. Coloured ribbons are usually fixed to the skull and to the reins.

During the New Year's Day ceremony, the skull is carried through the streets of the village by a group of people and calls at a number of houses and pubs along the route.

The tradition involves the arrival of the horse and its party at the door of the house or pub, where they sing several introductory verses. Then comes a battle of wits (known as pwnco) in which the people inside the door and the Mari party outside exchange challenges and insults in rhyme. At the end of the battle, which can be as long as the creativity of the two parties holds out, the Mari party enters with another song.

Victory in the debate would ensure admission into the house for the Mari Lwyd group, to partake of cakes and ale and perhaps collect a money gift as well. 

The tradition can still be seen today in Llangynwyd as well as several other villages in Southern Wales.

(Thanks to and for providing information for this blog and Cardiff Boy 2 for the picture)

Happy New Year

Llancaiach GhostThis weekend is Calan Gaeaf in Wales.  Translated into English, this means the start of winter and is an ancient celebration to mark the Celtic New Year.  These days the more modern celebration of Halloween is more widely celebrated although this has its roots in the Calan Gaeaf celebrations.

There are plenty of events happening throughout Southern Wales to celebrate Halloween.  St Fagans National History Museum near Cardiff are running a series of ghost tours through their site calling at some of their haunted buildings as you go. 

Meanwhile Tredegar House on the outskirts of Newport is getting all creepy.  Visitors are invited dared to explore the cobwebbed halls and living graveyard.

If you're feeling really brave then you should head for the most haunted house in Wales - Llancaiach Fawr near Caerphilly.  Strange goings-on have been reported throughout the house and grounds.  They're marking Halloween with a Psychic Evening and Ghost Tours