The spectacular pageant of the Parade of Nations has made its long-awaited return to the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
The colourful cavalcade, sponsored by Everbright, included competitors from 19 countries on five different continents who were given a joyous welcome by delighted spectators who lined the streets in the picturesque town where Wales meets the world.
It was the first time parade has been held since 2019 with Covid taking its toll on the event for three years before this its triumphant return.
Nisha Guy, from Trinidad and Tobago, a cultural ambassador with the Soul Oasis group among a party of 40 from the West Indian islands.
She said: “I’ve just been blown away by the music and dance performances – everyone just really giving their all.
“It’s just been great to have some normalcy brought back to our lives after Covid and it’s been so emotional and so lovely as well, backstage and in the audience as well.
“The Parade is something special and I was singing as part of that and in the town square as well.”
Kiki Dari has been bringing groups of competitors from Djakarta, in Indonesia, for over 20 years and this year is with Labschool Kebayoran and she said: “I feel like Llangollen is my second home and I have missed it .
“I even came here two weeks before the festival to make sure everything was fine and it’s so nice to be back and be part of it all, especially the Parade.
“We have some traditional dancers with us and they have performed as part of the parade today.
“I hope to come many more times in future. I enjoy so much bringing Indonesian people here.”
Gurnoor Kaur, a young dancer from the Punjab, in India, was here for the first time in 2019, the last time the Eisteddfod was held as a full event and she said: “There have been lots of changes from last time but it is such an amazing event.
“It’s just such a great experience and so amazing, even the weather, and the people are so caring, respectful and show lots of love. They have really made us feel at home.
“It’s great to get to know about other cultures and other nations. That’s what makes Llangollen so special – I’d love to come again.”
It was a special moment for the Eisteddfod’s mastermind, Executive Producer Camilla King, who took over last year and hadn’t see it make its colourful way down Abbey Road from the International Pavilion to the town and back again in a kaleidoscopic river of colour.
She said: “It’s been fantastic and the Parade has been wonderful. It’s the first time it has been held since 2019 and the first time I’ve seen and experienced it and it has just been spectacular.
“Having no restrictions to worry about is absolutely wonderful and we’ve had lots of competitors from all over the world taking part, from the West Indies to the East Indies with groups from Trinidad and Tobago to Indonesia.
“We were a bit worried after Covid whether people would come back to the Eisteddfod, particularly from overseas but the response has been magnificent and seeing so many happy faces with people having fun is what the Eisteddfod is all about.
“Events like ours need support and so it’s been wonderful to see so many people along the route because Llangollen is unique. We have a wonderful message of peace and friendship.
“You see things here you won’t see anywhere else, meeting people you wouldn’t meet anywhere else and I’m very proud of that and most of the work is done to make all this happen is done by our volunteers who are phenomenal.”
Among those volunteers are Bill Kong and his wife, Solana, who have settled in the town after Bill first visited the Eisteddfod in 2013 and started volunteering two years later even though he had to fly 6,000 miles to do it.
He has now been here three years and is delighted to see the Eisteddfod back and he said: “I love the people here, the hwyl, the friendliness, the music and the countryside.
“The Parade is back now and that was really important because it really seals the whole connection between the festival and the town and that’s really important.
“It’s been going 76 years now and that not something to be taken lightly.”
For more on Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and its competitions and concerts as well as how to get to it and where to stay go to http://international-eisteddfod.co.uk/ or check out https://www.facebook.com/llangollen