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Cultural Picks from Wales: A Guide to the Best Welsh Events of Autumn 2013
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Cultural Picks from Wales: A Guide to the Best Welsh Events of Autumn 2013

Picture of Rebecca Jagoe
Updated: 9 February 2017
A country that is proud of its unique cultural heritage, the festivals and events taking place across Wales this autumn and winter celebrate creative talent from both Wales and further afield, ranging from the Dylan Thomas Festival to the National Festival of Horror. Opera; literature; world music or contemporary art: whatever your preference, there’s sure to be something on to pique your interest.

Architecture | Open Doors Wales

Across Wales: September 2013

Organised by the Civic Trust Wales, Open Doors takes place throughout September in participating venues across the country. Many of the venues such as St David’s, a medieval Grade 1 listed church in Pembrokeshire, are open free to the public throughout the month. Other Museums, gardens and heritage sites are open gratis on selected days, and a number of special events, tours and talks to tie in with Open Doors are being hosted throughout. Highlights include the Hafod and Marfa Works, an important heritage site that on the 14th September is being transformed into a beautiful venue for a walk and picnic; and tours around Cilgerran Castle in Pembrokeshire, an unusual structure with an interesting history dating back at least as far as 1165.

Opera | The Tudors Miniseries by The Welsh National Opera

Wales Millenium Centre, Cardiff: 7 September – 6 October 2013

This autumn the Welsh National Opera is presenting a landmark miniseries of three performances that fall under the programme title ‘The Tudors’, marking the first time that Donzetti’s Three Queens operas will have been performed together in Wales. Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux collectively tell of the intrigues and plots that laced the Tudor courts. With the opera company’s tour kicking off at the renowned Wales Millenium Centre, at each venue the three performances are staged on consecutive nights. Each opera stands alone as an immersive experience every bit as beautiful as a Puccini; yet seen together, the audience has the opportunity to truly lose themselves in the drama and stunning music: to encourage this, the Welsh National Opera are offering a discount on tickets purchased for more than one performance.

Learn more about The Tudors Miniseries

Literature | PENfro Book Festival

Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire: 12 – 15 September

Held annually in Rhosygilwen Mansion in Pembrokeshire, the PENfro Book Festival is a celebration of Welsh Literature and the many writing talents that have hailed from Wales. This year the festival is expanding from its usual weekend programme to a four-day event. Along with readings, talks and a book fair that allows avid readers the chance to get their literary fix, there are a number of workshops and development sessions aimed at writers who wish to hone their craft. Among the many names appearing at the festival, this year PENfro is hosting both Gillian Clarke and Carol Ann Duffy, who will host an evening of poetry and discussion.

Learn more about PENfro Book Festival

Arts | Portmeirion Festival No 6

Portmeirion: 13 – 15 September 2013

Portmeirion provides a unique setting for a festival, in a surreal village on the Wales coast inspired by Mediterranean architecture. Portmeirion Festival No 6 utilises its setting to the full, with events taking place everywhere from the Town Hall to the Lighthouse, to the Colonnade Gardens. A festival that encompasses music performances, live poetry and prose readings, film screenings and standup comedy, there is something for everyone at the hugely popular event, and the festival atmosphere infects every corner of the stunning village. This year, musical highlights include Manic Street Preachers, My Bloody Valentine, and The Brythoniaid All Male Welsh Choir; names such as Joe Dunthorne and Caitlin Moran provide literary nous; and activities include Mass Meditation for 1 Giant Mind, and Dr Zigs, a group of ‘Extraordinary Bubblers’ who create unique bubbling performances for excited audiences both young and old.

Learn more about Portmeirion Festival No 6

Music | North Wales International Music Festival

St Asaph, North Wales: 20 – 28 September 2013

The North Wales International Music Festival provides a week of classical music performances from leading international musicians, all in the beautiful setting of St Asaph’s Cathedral. With performances that cater to audiences young and old, this year the programme highlights include Noye’s Fludde with the Mid Wales Opera; La Serenissima, an orchestral group dedicated to the works of Vivaldi and his Italian contemporaries; and the Vienna Mozart Trio, a renowned group who have performed everywhere from Europe to Asia. In addition, the Swingle Singers, a singing group established in Paris 50 years ago, will perform their unique form of Baroque Jazz that, as the organisers say, ‘pushes the boundaries of what the human voice can achieve.’

Learn more about the North Wales International Music Festival

Art | Uncommon Ground: Land Art Exhibition

Cardiff: October 4 2013 – January 5 2014

Land Art was one of the key artistic movements in 1960s and 1970s art, both in the UK and further afield. Land Artists examined the possibility of creating work that existed, and often could only exist, outside the gallery or museum environment, from site-specific installation and sculpture, to walks that were subsequently documented in drawings. Many of the UK artists who explored these ideas were the leading names of the Land Art Movement, and this touring exhibition brings together the works of many of these luminaries. Uncommon Ground, being hosted at National Museum of Wales, will feature the works of Richard Long, Tony Cragg, Susan Hillier, Antony Gormley and David Nash.

Learn more about Uncommon Ground

Film | Iris Prize LGBT Film Festival

Cardiff: 9 – 13 October 2013

Held in Cardiff each year, the Iris Prize Film Festival promotes LGBT cinema from Wales and further afield. The juried festival awards a prize each year to one filmmaker in order to support their practise and enable them to make another film: the only prize of its kind for lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex cinema, the Iris prize is worth £25, 000 and provides the winner with funding, support and guidance in order to make their next feature film. Yet the festival is more than just a prize, providing audiences with a dynamic screening programme of many of the leading new films that are by, for or about people from or issues surrounding the LGBT community.

Learn more about the Iris Prize Festival

Music | WOMEX 13

Cardiff: 23 – 37 October 2013

This autumn, after a complex selection process, WOMEX has chosen to host WOMEX 13 in the city of Cardiff. The World Music Festival brings together artists from across the globe to perform at the festival, providing a varied and eclectic lineup that allows audiences to hear something they might not have otherwise come across. Crucially, too, WOMEX provides an invaluable platform for support and promotion of artists, and the chance to gain international exposure. This year, performers range from Grupo Bongar from Brazil and Sidi Touré from Mali, to the Emily Portman Trio from the UK.

Learn more about Womex 13 Cardiff

Literature | Dylan Thomas Festival

Swansea: 27 October – 9 November 2013

Possibly the most famous writer to hail from Wales, Dylan Thomas is a poet, playwright and author whose works are loved not just on his native turf, but across the world. The festival takes place every autumn at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, and highlights not only his works but also poetry, prose, drama and music from a number of established and emerging artists, in celebration of creativity in its many forms. This year, the festival will host a number of Doctor Who events, talks and workshops to mark the show’s fiftieth anniversary, and an evening event focussing on the enormously popular Danish series The Killing. With its diverse and eclectic programme, the Dylan Thomas Festival offers something for avid Thomas fans and those less familiar with his work alike.

Learn more about the Dylan Thomas Festival

Film | Abertoir Film Festival

Aberystwyth: 5 – 10 November 2013

Held in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Abertoir Film Festival is the National festival for horror in Wales, held, appropriately, just after Halloween. This year the festival opens with a special 50th anniversary screening of The Haunting, with Richard Johnson presenting a Q&A afterwards. The festival hasn’t released the full lineup just yet, but to give an idea, last year they included Antiviral, the new film made by David Cronenberg’s son Brandon; the UK premiere of The Barrens; the European premiere of Last Kind Words; and consecutive showings of the 1960s series Danger 5, a surreal spy drama set in 1960s-inspired World War II. Supporting the darker side of cinema worldwide, this festival is a must for movie fans and filmmakers alike.

Learn more about Abertoir Film Festival

By Rebecca Jagoe