SEVEN years after it last hosted, Monmouthshire County Council has said it would like to see the National Eisteddfod return to its area – and has put itself forward for consideration as a potential host.
The annual week long celebration of Welsh language culture normally attracts around 150,000 visitors and is estimated, by organisers, to boost the economy of its host area by between £6-£8 million with tourism and hospitality businesses the biggest beneficiaries.
This year’s Eisteddfod is being held near Pwllheli, in Gwynedd, and by tradition the event rotates between north and south Wales. Next year’s will be staged at an as yet to be announced location in the Rhondda Cynon Taf local authority area.
It is expected Wrexham will host the 2025 Eisteddfod, when it returns north, while the Welsh Local Government Association is currently canvassing councils willing to welcome the event from 2026 onwards.
Monmouthshire County Council chief executive Paul Matthews has confirmed the authority has put it self forward to once again welcome the event, which is arranged and run by a volunteer organising committee. If Monmouthshire is selected to host in 2026 it will mark ten years since the county last staged the Eisteddfod, in 2016, at Castle Meadows in Abergavenny.
Mr Matthews said: “Monmouthshire last hosted in 2016. It was a great success and the council would like to see the event return. We are hopeful that our expression of interest will be seen in a positive light.”
No details such as where in Monmouthshire the Eisteddfod would be held have yet been agreed but Mr Matthews said there will be “several venues to review” but the criteria for sites is “quite demanding” while the experience of hosting in 2016 will be beneficial.
“Given we are in an expression of interest phase, it’s far too early to have detailed event planning in place at this stage. If we are successful in being awarded the event, then this will change, and we are fortunate to have the organisational memory to know how to do this well.”
The 2016 event was the first time the town had staged the national event since 1913 and it was hailed, by then Eisteddfod president, Garry Nicholas, as “one of the best Eisteddfodau in recent memory”.
There were 140,297 visitors to ‘y Maes’ – or site – in 2016 and up to 20 per of the audience at some events in the main pavilion requested translation headsets, indicating success in attracting non-traditional visitors who aren’t fluent in Welsh.
Volunteer organisers worked with Monmouthshire County Council to raise £300,000 for the local fund with Abergavenny's fundraising committee smashing all expected targets.
While 2016 was hailed as the first time the Eisteddfod had been help in the area in more than a century since the event was staged at Abergavenny's Bailey Park in 1913, the 1924 Eisteddfod was held at Pontypool Park, four years after it became the property of the people of the area, with the town then in the historic county of Monmouthshire.
In 2010 the Eisteddfod was held in Ebbw Vale, which also hosted in 1958 while a part of Monmouthshire, and Newport staged it in 2004 and in 1988, when Gwent was the county council.