It’s that date again: 1 Mar, where we don daffodil hats and slap red dragons around the place in celebration of the patron saint of Wales, who died on this day in 589 AD. There’s always plenty to do in honour of St. David’s Day both on the day itself and throughout March in 2022, and we’ve rounded up what we think are the best of the bunch…
BBC Cymru Wales St. David’s Day programme – led by Michael Sheen’s Margins to Mainstream
These days, you’ll find Michael Sheen the ‘not-for-profit‘ actor knocking around his native Port Talbot – as many a cameo on locals’ social media feeds continue to attest to. So it was only natural that he might be popping up to celebrate St. David’s Day in some fashion on home soil in 2022. True to his socially conscious ideals, he’ll be doing so this year by introducing the work of 11 emerging writers from underrepresented backgrounds via Margins to Mainstream, a new podcast series from BBC Radio Wales being released through BBC Sounds. Through the program, these writers – many of whom come from working-class origins – have been paired with literary mentors, such as Welsh playwright Sian Owen and Damned United novelist David Pearce, to craft their stories, which will be performed by Sheen and others on the series.
After a live launch event at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on Sunday night, the evening of Tues 1 Mar will kick Margins to Mainstream off with a special programme broadcast on BBC Radio Wales, followed by a performance recorded live at Cardiff’s The Gate arts centre by Welsh folk faves Calan at 9 pm, introduced by Celtic Heartbeat‘s Frank Hennessy. The station will also celebrate the day with a whole line-up of other Welsh folk music; meanwhile, on TV, BBC One Wales will dig through the archives to bring you performances from Sir Tom Jones, Dame Shirley Bassey, Michael Ball, Aled Jones and more in a show titled Stars of Wales.
Margins to Mainstream/Calan BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Sounds, 6.30 pm & 9. pm Tues 1 Mar / Stars of Wales, BBC One Wales, 10.35 pm, Tues 1 Mar. Info: bbc.co.uk
Res Dewi Sant Marathon
It wouldn’t be a day of national and cultural significance without people putting on running shorts, nipple tape and destroying their knees in the name of sport, would it? Organised by MUUK, an outdoors adventure company in Pembrokeshire, these St. David’s Day runs come in the form of a full marathon, half, ultra and 10K, priced at £45, £35, £50 and £30 to enter, respectively.
It’s claimed to be the “toughest” if not the most beautiful course in the UK, with the scenic Welsh coastline making up somewhat for the gruelling trail. For this reason, the RDS marathon has, in the past, attracted champion British ultramarathoner Rik Vercoe, who holds the record for the most marathons completed in one year – 152, including the RDS one, which he ended up winning. (That year was 2013, by the way, when Vercoe would have been 42 years old.)
Booking on is essential, and you’ll need to do so before 12am on Fri 4 Mar. If you signed up for previously postponed events in 2020 and 2021, you’ll need to confirm your continued interest via email.
St. Davids, Pembrokeshire, Sat 5 Mar. Tickets: £30-£50. Info: muuk-adventures.com/ras-dewi-sant-marathon-wales
Oriel y Parc Dragon Parade
Located in the patron saint’s city (the smallest in Wales), the Oriel Y Parc Visitor Centre and gallery for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is quite literally the best place for one of the many parades that take place across Wales to mark St. David’s Day. Starting at the gallery, school children and community groups gather to craft dragon sculptures that they then carry through the city with a marching band. Flags, banners and fancy dress are encouraged from onlookers as well.
Last year, restrictions due to COVID shifted the annual Dragon Parade online, with children encouraged to draw and share pictures of dragons on social media instead. It’s back again this year, in person and in full force.
St. Davids, Pembrokeshire, Sat 5 Mar. Admission: free. Info: 01437 720392 / pembrokeshirecoast-wales/oriel-y-parc
A Song For Wales
Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama’s Big Band and The Aloud Charity are set to “raise the roof” in Cardiff this St. David’s Day with a programme of music celebrating the nation’s heritage as the Land Of Song. As well as classic Welsh composers and musicians, the evening’s entertainment will also feature the world premiere of a song performed by The Aloud Charity choir, and written by Amy Wadge. You might not be familiar with the name, but you’ll almost certainly be with chart-bothering single Thinking Out Loud, which Wadge co-wrote with Ed Sheeran.
Her song to be included here was created in collaboration with Aloud, a UK-wide music project intended to unite communities through song to combat lockdown separation. Since last March, the first lockdown anniversary (feels a little too celebratory to call it that…), Gwenno, This Is The Kit, Seth Lakeman and a host of other British artists have taken part. The one that’ll be performed at the RWCMD for St. David’s Day will be part of the final batch.
Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama, Cardiff, Tue 1 Mar. Tickets: £12-£14. Info: rwcmd.ac.uk
St. David’s Festival of Ideas
A later in the month one here, but worth the wait, hopefully. The Festival Of Ideas is not so much tied to St. David’s Day as it is to the city itself, but its calendar proximity and namesake, not to mention uniqueness, make it a worthwhile mention. Founded as a voluntarily-run social enterprise, it’s held by St. David and Solva locals along with invited speakers from around the country and various walks of life. Its inaugural three-day event was supposed to happen in April 2020, but eventually took place last spring as an online event.
Weighty topics of discussion this year include “Are Inequalities Inevitable?”, “The Future Of Food”, “What Hope Is There For Future Generations?”, “Marxism, Christianity And The Common Good In Today’s World”, “How Books Change The World” and “The Politics Of Sport”, among many others. There are also buffets, music and spoken word performances to break up the intellectual ponderings.
St. Davids, Pembrokeshire, Fri 25 + Sat 26 Mar. Tickets: £16.76-£43.71. Info: stdavidideas.co.uk
words HANNAH COLLINS