This traditional custom sees children knocking on doors and singing festive rhymes on 1 January in exchange for small gifts. Calennig events are staged around Wales on New Year’s Eve, usually with music and fireworks.
St Dwynwen's Day
Maybe it's the views of soaring mountains that do it, but we're a romantic bunch here! We even have our own patron saint of lovers. Forget Valentine's Day, 25 January is the most romantic day of the year in Wales. We give romantic gifts to loved ones to remember St Dwynwen a love struck lass who became a nun after being forbidden by her father from marrying the man she loved. Ahh.
Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau
Traditionally, Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau (Mary’s Festival of the Candles), celebrated on February 2, marked the coming of spring in Wales. Candles were lit and placed in windows and parlour games played. Though no longer a fixture on the calendar, candle-themed services take place in some churches to celebrate the date.
Dydd Miwsig Cymru
For Dydd Miwsig Cymru (Welsh Language Music Day) we celebrate Welsh language music of all forms, in all genres! The country is taken over with pop-up gigs and performances in all sorts of venues. Whether you’re into indie, rock, punk, funk, folk, electronica, hip hop or anything else, there’s incredible music being made in the Welsh language for you to discover.
Six Nations Rugby
Six Nations Rugby is a celebrated annual international rugby championship, involving both Wales’ men’s and women’s national teams. It starts in early February and runs for seven weeks. Up to three games in the men’s tournament are played in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium each year, bringing huge crowds and a fervent festival atmosphere to the city. Want to know why we love rugby so much? Carolyn Hitt has the answer ... )
St David's Day
Our national day on 1 March is a huge celebration of our patron saint, St David.
Saint David (Welsh: Dewi Sant; c. 500 – c. 589) was a Welsh bishop of Mynyw (now St Davids) during the 6th century.
The national day of Wales - St David's Day takes place on 1 March. Across the country there are street parades that are great fun for everyone with lots of Welsh flags flying. Many people pin a daffodil or leek - Wales' national emblems - to their clothes and some, especially children, wear Welsh national costume, national team rugby shirts, or dress up as leeks, daffodils or even dragons.
Diwrnod Crempog (Pancake Day)
Held on the eve of the Christian fasting period of Lent, Diwrnod Crempog (Pancake Day) sees people making and tucking into pancakes of all shapes and sizes. (Want to make your own? Have a look at our crempog recipe).
The Christian holiday of Easter falls over one weekend in March or April, with the Monday and Friday both bank holidays (meaning many people don’t have to work). Religious processions are held (usually on the Sunday), while children hunt for chocolate eggs left by the Easter Bunny – a mythical giant rabbit with a penchant for chocolate (not to be confused with Welsh rarebit).
Calan Mai, on 1 May, was traditionally considered the beginning of summer. Houses were decorated and bonfires lit, and big parties took place. Today, the first Monday in May is still a bank holiday (meaning many people don’t have to work).
Dylan Thomas Day
If there's one writer people associate with Wales more than anyone it's the lyrical, romantic, hellraiser poet and raconteur, Dylan Thomas. Dylan was born in Swansea and wrote most of his famous works here in Wales. Dylan Day is celebrated on 14 May - both in Wales and many other places. It's the date his most famous work Under Milk Wood was first read on stage in New York in 1953. Bet you didn't know children's author Roald Dahl was also a Welshman?
The Artes Mundi is a biannual art prize is the biggest in the UK and attracts talent from across the world. Shortlisted artists have their works exhibited at National Museum of Wales in Cardiff for a number of weeks, before the eventual winner of the £40,000 award is announced.
Machynlleth Comedy Festival
Over the May bank holiday every year, a small army of comedians descend on the historic market town of Machynlleth. The much-loved Machynlleth Comedy Festival hosts intimate gigs in pubs, railway stations and gin distilleries.
One of the world’s biggest and best literary festivals, nicknamed the Woodstock of the Mind by Bill Clinton... Hay Festival takes place every year in late spring, in the little border town of Hay on Wye.
The oldest classical music festival in Wales takes place each June in the grand Gregynog Hall, in the village of Tregynon, near Newtown. The Gŵyl Gregynog festival first started in 1933, and still attracts visitors from around the world today.
Royal Welsh Show
The four-day Royal Welsh Show is one of the largest and most prestigious agricultural events in Europe. Alongside livestock competitions, the daily program includes everything from falconry displays and sheep dog trials to daredevil motocross displays and meet-and-greets with giant animatronic robots.
Râs Yr Wyddfa
Conwy River Festival
Held over two weekends in July, the Conwy River Festival celebrates the important relationship between the town and the river estuary that runs alongside it. Events include boat shows, races and quay-side entertainment for kids.
Green Man Festival
A four-day independent music and arts festival held near Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons with a heavy sustainable ethos. Green Man Festival features music and performance across various genres, including world, folk, indie and dance.
An eisteddfod is a festival celebrating Welsh literature, music and performance. They’ve been happening all over Wales since the 12th century. The biggest is our annual National Eisteddfod which takes in a different part of the country each year. It's all about celebrating and promoting our unique language and culture. Lasting a week, it attracts around 150,000 visitors with an eclectic mix of music, dance, drama and workshops with events for all the family.
World Alternative Games
The town of Llanwrtyd Wells in mid-Wales has a big reputation for madcap sporting events. Competitions like Man v. Horse and the Real Ale Wobble take place at various times during the year, but the big one is the World Alternative Games in late August. It features wife carrying, gravy wrestling, backward running and worm charming. But the most famous event is bog snorkelling. No idea what it is? Only one way to find out…
Brecon Jazz Festival
Welsh Rarebit Day
Just don't call it cheese on toast, OK? Welsh rarebit is a far more refined mouthful: lashings of melted cheese mixed with mustard and ale and poured over toasted bread. No one knows its origins, but it's thought rarebit is a corruption of the word rabbit (if that helps?). It's a staple on menus across the land, but we love it so much we have an annual Rarebit Day on 3 September.
Abergavenny Food Festival
Abergavenny Food Festival is a fusion of product tastings, cookery masterclasses, and fun foodie activities for kids (plus a sprinkling of celeb chefs) ensures this well-attended weekend festival is one of Wales’s top culinary events.
Wales International Film Festival
This bourgeoning three-day film festival showcases the best of Welsh filmmakers, directors and animators with prizes in 20 categories. Over 80 films and shorts are screened during Wales International Film Festival every year.
Porthcawl Elvis Festival
What is thought to be the largest annual Elvis fan gathering in the world inexplicably takes place in the seaside town of Porthcawl every September, with over-the-top fancy dress and singalongs galore.
Cadw’s Open Doors event sees the Welsh Government’s historic environment service throw open the doors to a number of Welsh heritage buildings and historic attraction for a weekend. This gives up close and behind the scenes access to monuments and buildings not usually accessible to the public.
Calan Gaeaf (Halloween)
Others celebrate Halloween on 31 October, but in Wales it's Calan Gaeaf, the first day of winter. Our Celtic ancestors believed that on this day, the door between their world and the next was open. So they paid tribute to the dead, with dancing around the village fire. It was a sombre occasion and people wore masks to ward off evil spirits. Don’t worry these days it's more light hearted! Just as elsewhere, people dress as spooky creatures and kids go trick-or-treating.
Cardiff’s premier music festival, Sŵn Festival was started by Welsh BBC DJ Huw Stephens, and sees a number of live music venues throughout the city hosting gigs of varying sizes during a weekend in October. The festival is now run by Cardiff nightclub, Clwb Ifor Bach.
Iris Prize Film Festival
Over its 15-year history, the Iris Prize has become a leading voice in championing LGBT+ short film, and the Cardiff-based festival, which accompanies the annual £30,000 film award (the world's largest short film prize) is a significant event in the British film festival calendar.
Newport Wales Marathon
One of a handful of marathons hosted in Wales, the Newport Wales Marathon, thought to be one of the UK’s flattest marathons, takes place in and around the city of Newport, finishing alongside the city’s riverfront. There is also an accompanying 10k race.
The night Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up the British parliament was foiled is celebrated across the UK with bonfires and firework displays, and Wales is no different. Major displays take place in towns and cities across the country on November 5, as well as the closest weekend.
Mari Lwyd means Grey Mare and it's an ancient pagan tradition that’s still going strong in parts of South Wales. A horse's skull on a pole is decorated with bells and colourful ribbons and carried through the streets. At each house the Mari and her followers chant rhymes at the door. The homeowners chant back. Eventually the Mari is allowed inside as it brings good luck for the coming year. Mari Lwyd is usually seen in December but can be in January too, including in Chepstow.
Christmas Day / Plygain
Christmas Day is a national holiday in Wales and is celebrated with family. Gifts are exchanged and far too much food consumed. Many people visit pubs on Christmas Eve and/or attend midnight carol services at churches, referencing the Welsh tradition of Plygain, which involves going to church at 3am to sing folk songs on Christmas morning.
Festive Season Swims
Taking a mid-winter dip has become an increasingly popular ritual during the festive period in Wales. Porthcawl has hosted a Christmas morning swim for over 50 years, while Boxing Day is the day for chattering teeth and icy limbs in Tenby’s North Beach and Cefn Sidan in Pembrey. Meanwhile, Abersoch, Barry Island, Whitesands, Morfa Nefyn and Saundersfoot host swims on New Years’ Day. See the Visit Wales site for a list of festive swims in Wales.
The Nos Galan Road Races
Founded in 1958 by local runner Bernard Baldwin, the Nos Galan Road Races take place in the town of Mountain Ash every New Year’s Eve. The event starts with a torchlight procession, usually led by a celebrity (such as Welsh rugby captain Sam Warburton), before the adult and child races take place. The night is capped off with a firework display.