Everyone are new or unfamiliar visitors when they arrive on the Maes for the first time.
With every piece of land comes new challenges, so the work of locating everything on the Maes is a huge jigsaw which takes months to complete.
The building closest to the main entrance is Maes D, full of information and opportunities for Welsh learners. But it’s not only a centre for learners, there’s a warm welcome for everyone here, with an interesting and varied schedule which includes music, discussions, stories – even belly dancing! Remember to pop in to meet the finalists in the Welsh Learner of the Year competition on Wednesday and the winner will be there on Thursday.
On we go, past rows of stands of all kinds, and there are over 200 of them on the Maes this year, past the Pagoda and Stiwdio. Many instrumental competitions and prelims are held here, and they’re open to the public. Catch some of our best young performers at the beginning of their performing careers.
And we reach two of the Maes’ hidden gems – the Societies Pavilions. Where else could you find a full analysis of the General Election, a lecture on the Anglesey bone-setters, a tribute session to Rhodri Morgan and the history of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright? We could spend our whole week here, but we must soldier on... Go online for full schedules.
It’s on to the Food Village and Llwyfan y Maes – the open air stage. There’s plenty of choice of food and drink again this year and a packed programme on the stage, with local groups, and the top Welsh artists and bands, ready to entertain you from middy until late into the evening. Don’t miss the Brwydr y Bandiau competition (Battle of the Bands) on Wednesday afternoon – six young bands battling it out for the coveted title – before Sŵnami take to the stage.
Past the Science and Technology Pavilion and all its varied activities. Don’t be alarmed if you hear loud bangs and see smoke – there’s an amazing science show twice a day! The main theme this year is low carbon energy, and there are plenty of activities and exhibitions in the building, all promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).
Here’s Caffi Maes B, the Syched Bar and Tŷ Gwerin, and a chance to relax for a few minutes to listen to some acoustic sessions, talks and events celebrating Maes B’s 20th birthday in the Caffi, before stepping into the attractive Tŷ Gwerin yurt to enjoy performances by established and new artists from the folk scene. This is one of the Eisteddfod’s success stories over recent years. Don’t miss the Cerdd Dant Stomp at the end of Thursday afternoon, Meic Stevens on Wednesday evening and Dafydd Iwan winds everything up on Saturday afternoon. Did you know that he’s celebrating half a century of performing at the Eisteddfod this year?
And we’ve arrived at the Pentref Drama, although we’ll have seen a few street theatre performances around the Maes on our way here, with a bigger programme than ever. This is home to Theatr y Maes, the Cwt Drama, Sinemaes and Caffi’r Theatrau. And there’ll be plenty of celebrating here too during the week as Bara Caws reach the big 4-0. They were there in Wrexham in 1977, were you? Try and catch the winning play from last year’s Drama Medal competition during the week, Estron by Hefin Robinson, performed in the Cwt Drama from Monday until Friday, a co-production by Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and the Eisteddfod.
Quick stop in the Pentref Llên, to see the new look Pabell Lên, Gwyl Llên Plant, Llwyfan y Llannerch and the fabulous Cornel Ddarllen (Reading Corner) – a chance to escape from the bustle of the Maes for a few minutes to relax and enjoy one of the tens of books launched for the Eisteddfod. Go online to see the Pentref Llên schedule, and don’t miss the Quarter to Six sessions in the Pabell Lên and the lovely 4 and 6 music and poetry parties in the Llannerch.
In front of us lies the Gorsedd Circle, and if the weather is favourable, it’ll be extremely busy on Monday and Friday morning, as new members join the Gorsedd. We’re all crossing our fingers for good weather or we’ll have to move the ceremonies into the Neuadd Ddawns for the first time.
Past the Translation Centre – and remember to tell your non-welsh speaking friends and family that there’s free translation equipment available with lots of sessions and all the competing in the Pavilion translated into English.
And talking of the Pavilion – here it is! Home to most of the competitions, ceremonies and evening concerts. Remember that you can walk into the Pavilion at any time to listen to the competing during the day – the back doors are always open.
The iconic Eisteddfod red sign is facing us now. This has taken the place of the pink pavilion as the Eisteddfod’s most famous image, and this is what will be across social media throughout the week, as everyone wants to have their photo in front of the word!
Past Platiad, our licensed restaurant, offering the best Welsh produce in a relaxed atmosphere – the perfect place to come to people watch if you’ve got time. Here’s the Neuadd Ddawns, home to all kinds of dance competitions, from disco and hip hop to traditional step dances, as well as plenty of prelims and auditions throughout the week. Have a look to see what’s on.
And here’s a large tent with a new name – Artisan – the old Exhibition Hall, but the produce inside is still the same. Plenty of crafts, artists, jewellery and ‘Artisan’ stalls’. The new name better reflects what’s inside. This is the place to come to buy all kinds of gifts.
There’s the Anglesey Council stand and the leisure and sports area, and here we are, back at Maes D and the main entrance at the end of our whistle stop tour of the Maes.
If you’d like to join us on a real guided tour of the Maes, come to the Visitors’ Centre at 11:00 or 14:00 every day. We look forward to seeing you!