Welsh Language Music Day this February 4 celebrates all forms of Welsh music — be it indie, folk, punk, hip hop, or even electronica. The whole point of this day is to highlight the Welsh language and their rich culture of music to the world. Another aim: get more people speaking and learning the Welsh language by 2050. Gigs, events, and more are held in Wales — and across the world too — in honor of this day.
History of Welsh Language Music Day
The Welsh people have a long history with music. Their earliest songs from the 1600s were often linked to various festivals and traditions like Shrove Tuesday and New Year’s Day celebrations. Repetition — like in a carol — was a common feature of the songs in this era.
The Act of Union, when the Scottish Parliament and the English Parliament united and became the Parliament of Great Britain, suppressed all Welsh music in its efforts to promote the English language. The rise of the Methodist church in the 18th and 19th centuries further suppressed Welsh music, as the church frowned upon all forms of traditional song and dance.
Welsh music returned with a bang in the late 1800s because of several factors: Welsh societies for music were formed in Wales and London, and in the 1890s, Nicholas Bennett published his compilation of traditional Welsh tunes, called “Alawon fy Ngwlad” (Tunes of my Land).
19th composers helped this revolution along. While some created music catered to the Londoners, others went back to their roots to produce secular hymns and songs. By the next century, Wales was producing a large number of musically inclined greats, especially in the opera scene. By the time Wales had established the Welsh National Opera (in 1946), the world had discovered this country’s expertise with music, particularly in the classical genre. Later came other singing icons and bands, including Bonnie Tyler and Budgie, who found national and international fame, although they would occasionally mimic the American style of music. Soon enough, B.B.C. brought Welsh language radio programs to the world — Noson Lowen in the 1940s and Hob Y Deri Dando in the 1960s — and the world was fully introduced to the Welsh style of music. It helped that the Welsh embraced experimentation, creating punk, metal, and other sounds, leading to this music scene being labeled as ‘thriving’ by media everywhere.
Today’s Welsh music scene is flourishing, bringing its unique style to listeners everywhere around the world.
Welsh Language Music Day timeline
Seeing how the New Zealand rugby team begins their match with a traditional Maori dance, the Wales rugby team responds by singing an anthem — ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ — in response; it is the first time a national anthem is sung at the beginning of a sporting event.
Two in particular — Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey — have a string of top hits on the U.K. music charts, with Bassey becoming the first Welsh person ever to have a song be #1 on the U.K. singles chart.
B.B.C. Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens, of Welsh nationality, creates this music festival; events are held each year in Stephens' hometown of Cardiff, Wales, alongside events in other places and cities.
The Welsh capital of Cardiff is officially declared to be the Music City of the U.K., given that it has the second-highest number of independent music venues in the U.K.
Welsh Language Music Day FAQs
Which is the oldest Welsh song?
‘Dinogad’s Smock,’ a 6t-century Cumbrian Lullaby, is considered the oldest Welsh poem.
Which is the best Welsh music band?
Stereophonics, Feeder, Maniac Street Preachers, and Catfish And The Bottlemen appear frequently on the lists of the greatest Welsh music bands.
Who is the most famous Welsh singer?
Shirley Bassey, Catrin Finch, and Tom Jones are some of the greats of Welsh singers.
Welsh Language Music Day Activities
Discover Welsh music
Explore different artists, genres, and styles. Also, find your favorite tune(s) to jam to.
Share your love for Welsh music
Don't enjoy the wonders of Welsh music alone. Introduce others to this kind of music, with your special recommendations on the side as extra help.
Check out Welsh music, live
See if any place near you is hosting live Welsh music gigs. If not, you can try streaming it live.
5 Fun Facts About Wales
The origin of Wales
Wales was initially the Celtic nation of Cymru — probably why Welsh Language Music Day is called ‘Dydd Miwsig Cymru’ in Welsh.
The popularity of the Welsh language
Called Welsh or ‘Cymraeg,’ only 11% of Welsh people were fluent in it in 2014.
Another Welsh music festival
Eisteddfods are held to celebrate Welsh poetry, literature, and music, and they started way back in 1176.
Meet a famous Welsh poet
A prominent writer and reporter in the early 20th century, Dylan Thomas wrote famous poems such as ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ and ‘And death shall have no dominion.’
Oldest record shop in the world
Spillers Records from Cardiff, Wales, was established in 1894 by Henry Spiller and now sells music and alternative music concert tickets.
Why We Love Welsh Language Music Day
We love music
We're introduced to a thriving music scene and fun, new types of music. And it's the best thing for us because we love music.
We learn about Welsh music
This festival is a powerful way to make Welsh music more accessible to the world. And in doing this, we form new connections globally.
It's a glimpse into the Welsh language
As we all know, learning another language — especially through something as wonderful as listening to music — is very, very good for us. Try your hand at Welsh to mark the occasion.
Welsh Language Music Day dates