Feast of festivals

Visitors to the Wales Coast Path are in for a feast of festivals, as well as scenery, this summer as they make their way along the country’s spectacular coastline.

Visitors can take a break to sample everything from, among others, a multicultural celebration to a festival devoted entirely to mackerel as well as a seriously fishy festival in Milford Haven.

If ever proof was needed of just how much is packed into Wales as a small country, the sheer variety of events to be enjoyed around the coast in the coming months offers huge choice no matter what your interests.

Food, drink, music and family activities are everywhere. Wales’ traditional Eisteddfodau are complemented by food and music from different cultures around the world.

The water itself plays a key role in things to do over the summer too, with, among other things on offer, a wakeboard competition, coracles racing in the River Teifi and extreme sailing competitions.

And a range of intriguing and more relaxing ways of passing the time are there to be experienced around the coast too, including dipping into the world of ceramics or getting the bug for Beetles – of the VW kind.

It’s all accessible from the Wales Coast Path. Stretching from the Welsh border in North Wales to Chepstow in the south, it’s the world’s longest continuous coast path around a country. Lonely Planet, the world travel guide, thinks it’s extraordinary, choosing the path as the world’s greatest region in its 2012 best-in-travel guide, ahead of attractions like the Ruta Maya in Central America, and Canada’s Maritime Provinces.

It takes in a Geopark, a marine nature reserve, two national parks, three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 14 designated heritage coasts, 11 national nature reserves, 23 sites on the Register of Historic Landscapes along the route.

In addition to funding from the Welsh Government and the coastal local authorities of approximately £2 million per year, the European Regional Development Fund has allocated nearly £4 million over four years to support the project.

Why not visit the Pembrokeshire Fish Week between 22-30 June, based in Milford Haven with events throughout the county. Fantastic fish and shellfish, wonderful coastal activities, and plenty of family fun have established this event as one of the most popular in the country.

For those with crafts in mind the International Ceramics Festival in Aberystwyth on 28-30 June opens up the world of ceramics with guest artists from the USA, Korea, China, Spain, Poland, and New Zealand.

On 30 June, Cardiff Multicultural Mela, showcases a wide diversity of cultures, music, dance, arts, fashion and food with Asian cultures at its root at Roald Dahl Plass in Cardiff Bay.

Find out what wakeboarding is all about at Wakestock between 12-14 July. Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsula hosts the festival, which comes complete with a music festival attached.

For VW fans, get the bug for beetles at Dubs at the Castle on 20 to 21 July, a three-day family camping event with live bands and entertainment at Caldicot Castle.

Among the many festivals to visit this summer is one of the world’s greatest cultural festivals – the National Eisteddfod. This annual event will be held this year in Denbigh between 2-10 August.

Rather more sedate but still competitive is the salmon and sea-trout fishing skills on show at the Cilgerran Festival Week, 16-25 August, in the shadow of the Cilgerran’s ruined castle on the River Teifi.

Or at the other end of the event spectrum, Cardiff Harbour Festival, 24 to 26 August, features all the excitement of Extreme Sailing, with international sailing professionals competing as they whizz past close to the crowds.

Finally a truly fishy experience not to be missed - the Aberaeron Mackerel Festival, on 31 August, is a celebration of the humble fish with the not so humble taste.

A great mix of festival fun and all within walking distance of the Wales Coast Path.

Festivals around the Wales Coast Path this summer:

North Wales

  • Three Castles Classic Car Trail, 6 June - look out for some classic cars at Flint Castle and go exploring around some unique heritage and coastline, an essential part of the Wales Coast Path. Meet at Flint foreshore. Time to be confirmed.
  • Criccieth Festival, 15 June to 23 June. A week of music from choirs to jazz
  • Wakestock, 12-14 July. A wakeboard competition - with a music festival attached - in Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsula
  • Spring Kite Fly & Barmouth Kite Festival, 13 July to 14 July. Kites of all shapes & sizes flying from 10-5 each day opposite the lifeboat station
  • Prestatyn Carnival, 20 July. Traditional carnival parade down the high street
  • Gwyl Caernarfon Festival, 20 July to 27 July. Free daytime events, kids' entertainment, live music in the open air. Evening music concerts, theatre events, town trails and much more at various venues in Caernarfon
  • Conwy River Festival, 20-28 July. A celebration week offering an array of water-based activities plus shoreside entertainment for all the family
  • North Wales Boat Show, 24 July to 28 July. A festival of water-based activities drawing participants not just from all of North Wales but also the North West, Isle of Man and Ireland
  • Holyhead Sailing Festival, 26 July to 28 July. A major sailing event centred around the Marina and Holyhead Sailing Club. Racing and shoreside activities
  • The National Eisteddfod of Wales, 2-10 August. One of the world’s greatest cultural festivals, held this year in Denbigh – just a short trip from the Coast Path
  • Conwy River Festival, 21 August to 28 August. A nine day festival of watersport and sailing with loads of on-shore activities too
  • DoveyFest, 24 Aug 2013 to 26 Aug. Free entertainment in Aberdovey with an event every Sunday (and 3 days over Bank Holiday)

Mid Wales

  • International Ceramics Festival, 28-30 June. The world of ceramics brought to Aberystwyth, with guest artists from the USA, Korea, China, Spain, Poland, and New Zealand
  • Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, 7 July. Join the festivities on Aberaeron Harbour and test some of the best local seafood, fish and other produce
  • Aberystwyth Town Carnival, 27 July. Prizes, Parade, Music, Zumba, Stalls, Face Painting – the lot
  • New Quay Music Festival 2013, 2 to 4 August. Bands in the marquee, buskers in the pubs and cafes and a free concert of bands live on the sea front
  • Aberaeron 2nd Beer and Cider Festival, 10 August. It must have gone well last year, because it’s back again. Welsh ciders/perries and real ales available, BBQ and live music as well
  • Cardigan Bay Regatta. 13-15 August. A three-day annual event in New Quay combining sailing races with shore based swimming races, sandcastle building competitions and family fun events
  • Cilgerran Festival Week. 16-25 August. In the shadow of the Cilgerran’s ruined castle, local fishermen show off their salmon and sea-trout fishing skills from traditional coracles in the River Teifi for the annual race meeting of these ancient craft
  • MOMA Festival. 18-25 August. Machynlleth plays host to this eclectic 27th celebration of the arts, taking in jazz, male voice choirs, congregational hymn singing and four days of inspiring classical concerts
  • Cardigan Quays Festival, 24 August. Celebrating Cardigan's rich cultural and maritime heritage and featuring live music, mermaids rowing race and a firework display at 9pm
  • Aberaeron Mackerel Festival, 31 August. A celebration of the humble fish with the not so humble taste

South West

  • Pembrokeshire Fish Week, 22-30 June. Embrace the fact that this is a seriously fishy festival centered on Milford Haven with events throughout the county. Fantastic fish and shellfish, wonderful coastal activities, and plenty of family fun
  • St David’s Folk Festival, 27 July. Bring your own picnic with rugs or camping chairs for this friendly family folk fest in St David’s Bishop's Palace, Pembrokeshire


  • Gwyl Ifan, 21 to 23 June. The Welsh Folk Dance Festival which will flood Cardiff city centre with folk-dancing from Wales, Brittany, France and the Netherlands
  • Lower Machen Festival, 26 June. Crispian Steele-Perkins - one of the world's best known trumpet soloists – brings his Masterclass to this festival in the heart of Newport
  • Cardiff Multicultural Mela, 30 June. With Asian cultures at its root the Mela showcases a wide diversity of cultures, music, dance, arts, fashion and food
  • Caerleon Arts Festival 2013, 5 to 14 Jul. Shakespeare in the Roman amphitheatre, music and singing - folk, rock, pop, classical, jazz and choir, exotic dancing, art and craft exhibitions, and art created by local school children
  • Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, 12 to 14 July. 100 specialist food and drink producers of everything from farmhouse cheese and handmade chocolates to specialist liqueurs, a beautiful waterfront venue and free entertainment. It doesn’t get much better
  • Dubs at the Castle, 20 to 21 July. Get the bug for beetles at this VW show at Caldicot Castle, Chepstow, a three-day family camping event, with live bands and entertainment
  • Green Gathering, 1 to 4 August. Powered by the wind, sun and people, the Green Gathering combines the best of music of all genres together with workshops, sustainable lifestyles and future technologies at this festival near Chepstow Race Course
  • Cardiff Harbour Festival, 24 to 26 August. The established festive returns with Extreme Sailing! International sailing professionals competing up close as they whizz past close to the crowds, plus a host of free activities, Tall Ships, a continental market and top fishmongers competing in a series of precision skills tests.