Four of Wales’ best-loved festivals – Festival of Voice, FOCUS Wales, Other Voices Cardigan and Aberystwyth Comedy Festival – have joined forces in lockdown to create Gŵyl 2021; a free, online festival packed with unforgettable music and comedy, embracing diversity and dialogue. Captured over recent months in Wales and internationally within Coronavirus guidelines, Gŵyl 2021 will be available across the UK at www.bbc.co.uk/gwyl2021 on the weekend of 6-7 March 2021.
An extraordinary digital gathering for these exceptional times, Gŵyl 2021 shines a light of determination and resilience from the creative scene in Wales. Following almost a year of physical distancing, Gŵyl 2021 marks an emotional moment of unity – of artists and audiences, from Wales and the world. It recognises that our collective voice is a powerful sum of its parts.
In true festival style, Gŵyl 2021 will be a celebration of the established, and a discovery of the eclectic and the emerging, from Wales and further afield. The line-up includes contributions from Cate Le Bon in collaboration with Gruff Rhys, the award-winning Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Tim Burgess’ Listening Party, and Catrin Finch; plus BERWYN (BBC Music Sound of 2021), Carys Eleri (Adelaide Fringe Festival winner), Arlo Parks and Dani Rain, the drumming force behind Neck Deep.
Other highlights include Charlotte Adigéry, post-punk Welsh Music Prize winners Adwaith, Irish poet and art rock pioneer Sinead O’Brien and Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Jordan Brookes; Welsh Language Album of the Year winner Ani Glass, Dublin four-piece Sprints, Cardiff-based Guinean griot musician N’Famady Kouyate and sketch group Tarot. Dance company Jukebox Collective have also curated performances from reggae artist Aleighcia Scott, RnB/soul artist Faith, rapper King Khan, singer and rapper Reuel Elijah, spoken word artist Jaffrin Khan and more.
There’s an exclusive, one-off performance by Brett Anderson, Charles Hazlewood and Paraorchestra, featuring special guests Nadine Shah, Adrian Utley & Seb Rochford, plus special episodes of the comedy podcasts Welcome to Spooktown and I Wish I Was an Only Child, featuring guest appearances from some famous faces.
The festival will include content on other platforms, too; FOCUS Wales have programmed a special screening of Eternal Beauty, a new feature film made in Wales and starring David Thewlis and Sally Hawkins, plus a bespoke selection of the best new music from across Canada and Québec, all to be streamed on the Welsh cultural app AM Cymru, 5-10 March 2021. S4C will broadcast exclusive highlights from Other Voices Cardigan at a later date (tbc).
All rehearsals, filming and recording have taken or will take place within local Coronavirus guidelines. All content made in Wales has been created in consultation with Welsh Government.
Content from the festival will be available to view again for seven days on www.bbc.co.uk/gwyl2021 and will be shared across BBC Cymru Wales.
Graeme Farrow, Artistic Director of Wales Millennium Centre said:
“Festival of Voice has been the highlight of our calendar since 2016, and last year’s festival was shaping up to be no exception. The exciting and ambitious plans we’d made were dashed by the pandemic, but we’re all delighted to be able to work with such outstanding partners to deliver Gŵyl 2021 in March. It brings together the very best of all four festivals, and our shared spirit of curiosity and passion for great performance. We hope it brings a bit of much-needed joy to audiences to blow away the cobwebs.”
Henry Widdicombe of Aberystwyth Comedy Festival said:
"We couldn't be more delighted to be working with three other amazing Welsh festivals to deliver this online event in March. Whilst the past year has been an unprecedented challenge for the events industry, an event like this shows that the arts community has also come together as a result of that challenge. The programme of events being curated is astonishing and we can't wait to be a part of it."
Neal Thompson of FOCUS Wales said:
"We are delighted that FOCUS Wales has been able to work in partnership with three of Wales' best known festivals to create Gŵyl 2021. After what has been a dark and difficult year for us all, we look forward to a brighter future and to coming together and celebrating Wales' rich and diverse cultural offering, with a programme of outstanding music and comedy."
Dilwyn Davies of Other Voices Cardigan said:
“Other Voices and Mwldan are super excited at the prospect of an extraordinary weekend of music and comedy from Wales, created and shared by our wonderful festival partners. During a time of separation, distance and lockdown, it's all the more important that we - artists, audiences and crew - join together to share and celebrate the riches of our diverse culture.”
Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of BBC Cymru Wales said:
“BBC Wales is delighted to be working with Gŵyl 2021. We all need a blast of creativity, comedy and music right now and this unprecedented partnership with four brilliant Welsh festivals promises to be a real gem.”
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said:
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support this pan-Wales partnership, which will bring the best of these wonderful festivals to a wide audience. Throughout this pandemic, the innovative response in sharing, celebrating and bringing people together from the events and creative industries has been extremely successful – and has provided hope and entertainment during these difficult times.”