A Celebration of Roald Dahl 100 Wales
“Wales’ Year of Adventure and our celebration of the Roald Dahl Centenary are now drawing to a close – and what and amazing year it has been” – Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates
On Wednesday 16 November Welsh Government, Literature Wales and partners, marked a gloriumptious year of Roald Dahl 100 celebrations in Wales with a special event at the Senedd. A host of Roald Dahl-inspired events, exhibitions, happenings and grassroots activity have taken place across Wales throughout 2016, celebrating 100 years since the birth of the world’s number 1 storyteller in Cardiff.
Presented by Bardd Plant Cymru, Anni Llŷn, and sponsored by The Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, the showcase featured Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected, Literature Wales’ Invent your Event funding and outreach scheme; Land of Song and Devising Dahl; a special performance from Ysgol Ifor Bach; plus a surprise appearance by Mr Fox himself.
The Roald Dahl 100 Wales celebrations formed part of the Welsh Government’s Year of Adventure and were supported by the Roald Dahl Literary Estate. The Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates AM, said: “Roald Dahl, although a truly international figure – was not immediately thought of as being from Wales – I’m now confident that’s been put right this year!
“During our Year of Adventure we have had the opportunity to learn more about how Roald Dahl used the landscapes, stories and heritage of the land of his birth as inspiration for a generation of stories for adults and children that take the reader on a memorable series of journeys. I’m delighted that our celebrations of Roald Dahl and adventure have come together so well during 2016. In Wales, the very landscape and the attractions invite us to embrace our sense of adventure.
Wales offers a lifetime’s worth of adventure that even Roald Dahl would have been inspired by. We now look forward to 2017 and to our Year of Legends here in Wales – which again is very fitting for our much loved writer.”
– A Wales-wide Celebration of Roald Dahl –
The Artistic Directors of Wales Millennium Centre and National Theatre Wales, Graeme Farrow and Kully Thiarai, shared the vision behind what was to become Wales’ biggest ever arts event, Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected. Thousands of people came to Cardiff on the 17 and 18 September 2016, to witness a 7-metre peach arriving, unannounced, in the city centre; a mischievous fox being chased by farmers, dodging their pitchforks with parkour, acrobatics and even a nail-biting tightrope walk; and enjoy a great pyjama picnic in Bute Park. Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected put Cardiff firmly on the international map, and is an experience the whole city will remember for a generation.
It was important for all involved in the planning of the centenary that this would become a Wales-wide and bilingual celebration. To ensure this would happen, Literature Wales, with funding from the Welsh Government, came up with Invent your Event. This new funding and outreach scheme offered financial support for organisers to celebrate Roald Dahl 100 in Wales. A complementary outreach programme with a focus on social inclusion was also delivered by Literature Wales and its partners, making sure that people of all ages and backgrounds were given the opportunity to take part in the celebrations.
Speaking at the event, Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales, said: “Throughout the year, Invent Your Event has engaged directly with over 30,000 people, from all over Wales, and many, many more indirectly. I’d like to pay tribute to the sheer inventiveness of the event organisers, librarians, teachers, writers and artists – who all made sure that this was one of the most imaginative centenaries ever. This has been a truly Wales-wide celebration, and we would not have been able to achieve this without the help and support of our partners and funders who shared our vision of bringing Dahl back to Wales.”
Some of Wales’ leading arts and cultural organisations got involved in the Wales-wide celebrations, with many receiving funding from Invent your Event to support their activity. Highlights included:
Quentin Blake: Inside Stories at National Museum Cardiff; Hay Festival; Film Hub Wales and Chapter Arts Centre’s Roald Dahl on Film; The National Eisteddfod of Wales; Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival; Adventure is just a Page Away at National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth; Beyond the Border – Wales International Storytelling Festival; Cardiff University’s Roald Dahl Centenary Conference; Swansea International Festival; Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Fantastic Mr Dahl Conference; Urdd Eisteddfod; Velvet Coalmine in Blackwood; North Wales International Music Festival; and RawFfest – a new national youth arts festival, to name only a few.
Family-friendly activities inspired by Roald Dahl were also organised by Denbighshire County Council; Gwynedd Council and Palas Print Bookshop, Caernarfon; Oriel Davies, Newtown; Caerphilly Arts Development; and Techniquest in Cardiff Bay. Plus, The Llandaff Society co-ordinated the unveiling of four plaques on buildings in Llandaff that have a historic association with Roald Dahl.
A special commemorative brochure featuring just some of the highlights from a spectacular year of events was commissioned by Literature Wales and is available to view online here.
– Dahlightful Stories Competition – Winners Announced –
As part of the proceedings, The Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, announced the winners of the Dahlightful Stories Competition. Organised by the Welsh Books Council on behalf of Welsh Government, the competition received an encouraging response, with 568 children from across Wales taking part.
Ella Forster (Year 6), of St Dogmaels Community School, Pembrokeshire was the overall winner of the English-language Primary category with her story The Squenguanaflion. Daniel Jones (Year 6), from Ysgol Ffridd y Llyn, Bala won the Welsh-language Primary Category with his story Does Neb yn Gwybod. Josh Kenny of Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bryntawe, Swansea impressed the judges with his tale Grandad’s Rocket and was chosen as overall winner in the English-language Secondary Category. Chloe Stacey of Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg, Pontypridd took first prize in the Welsh-language Secondary Category with her story Melltith Stryd Fawr. The winning and shortlisted entries will be published in an anthology that will be available throughout Wales from February 2017.
– Now there’s no doubt where Roald Dahl’s story began –
The showcase was brought to a close with a special performance by Ysgol Ifor Bach from Abertridwr, Caerphilly. Pupils performed two songs inspired by The BFG which they had written and recorded as part of the Wales Millennium Centre and Aloud Charity’s Devising Dahl project.
Reading is one of the most magical acts – as soon as you open a book you are transported to a new world of adventure and imagination. Roald Dahl belongs to all of us – and this year, all over Wales, he was found everywhere.