True friendship travels the world

International Eisteddfod Celebrates International Friendship Day

This International Friendship Day, the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is honoring relationships that have been established over the past 70 years since it began, highlighting the importance of friendship by celebrating the 800 volunteers who provide crucial support throughout the week-long event. Every year the small Welsh town of Llangollen comes alive with its annual festival of music, folklore and dance, welcoming up to 50,000 visitors and 4,000 performers from all over the world.

International Friendship Day (July 30th) established by the UN aims for more people to make and celebrate friendship throughout the world, this ultimately leads to less chance of injustice, war, poverty and much more.

Chairman at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Dr Rhys Davies, said: “We only have six employees. Without our friends of the festival who volunteer each year, we simply couldn’t function! It is through the camaraderie of friendship that our festival is able to thrive; between volunteers, participants and indeed the audience themselves. By accumulating these bonds, we contribute to the aims of the UN in developing strong ties of trust which are needed to achieve peace and lasting stability.”

“As our festival continues to grow, it’s fantastic to welcome both familiar and new faces. What remains year-on-year is the joyful atmosphere of the Eisteddfod, which is enhanced by the extensive network of volunteers who dedicate so much energy and commitment.

“This International Friendship Day, we extend our thanks to all of those who give up their time to journey from far and wide across the globe, as we celebrate the coming together of nations.”

Competitiors Club Co-ordinator at the Llangollen Eisteddfod, Ann Ankers, said: “From working as an usher at the Eisteddfod in 1956 to stewarding in the 1960’s, I met a lady called Carol who travelled from Glasgow to sing at the festival. Being so inspired, the following year she returned, bringing along a friend for eight consecutive years.

“Now working in the Competitors Club, I came across Carol three years ago, returning again to support the festival and we have never looked back! Carol has come back to fulfill her ambition of choral singing. Having fallen in love with the peace, harmony and togetherness of the Llangollen Eisteddfod, Carol has been inspired to now be part of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and this year is performing at The Proms, an amazing achievement that I am so proud of.

“This shows how the unique culture of the Eisteddfod brings oneness and belonging to people from all over the globe. The experience is so rich and full of kindness, friends come away with unforgettable memories of how they came as a stranger for the first time to now, coming home with life-long friendships.”

And they truly do come from all corners of the world. The Kong family travel over 6,000 miles from Hong Kong to volunteer in the Competitors Club, helping to co-ordinate and support performers during their stay. This year, they also brought their son Daniel for the first time to experience the magic of the week-long international festival. Making life-long friendships throughout the festival, their smiles and generosity helped nervous competitors before they took to the stage.

Sisters Lynette Haber and Jane Rysanski from Connecticut, USA, have visited North Wales many a time and had always wanted to come to the Llangollen Eisteddfod. This year they decided to finally come and volunteer as part of the Floral Committee, creating the beautiful floral arrangements that decorated the festival stages. Both visited Llangollen twenty years ago on a tour, falling in love with the idyllic town and vowed to return to visit the festival ever since. Embodying the welcoming spirit of the event, the siblings are looking forward to many more Llangollen Eisteddfods to come.

A family from Hong Kong, China, and two sisters from Connecticut, USA, journeyed over 9,000 miles to lend their hands at Llangollen Eisteddfod 2018

[Selina, Daniel and Bill Kong from Hong Kong, China, volunteering in the Competitors Club at Llangollen Eisteddfod 2018]

[Lynette Haber and Jane Rysanski, sisters from Conneticut, USA, volunteering as part of the Floral Committee at Llangollen Eisteddfod 2018]

Acknowledged as one of the foremost world peace festivals, the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has been nominated for a number of awards, including the Nobel Prize for Peace.

This year’s celebrations included performances from international talent and prolific recording artists such as Van Morrison and Alfie Boe. As well as this, the festival’s finale party, Llanfest, featured indie-pop legends the Kaiser Chiefs, Hoosiers and Toploader who rocked the International Pavilion.

The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has volunteering opportunities that are suited to all ages and abilities. From office-based roles to floral and archive duties, there are plenty of responsibilities available throughout the year as well as during the highly anticipated Eisteddfod week itself.