Sunshine boost Eisteddfod ticket take

A bumper week of sunshine, song and dance has seen the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod report a massive increase in attendance.

In all 33,976 people paid at the gate over the six days of this year’s event earlier this month, up more than 17 per cent on last year, while competitors and volunteers took the total attendance to over 37,000 for the week.

A delighted treasurer Selwyn Evans reported this week that the event was already over the Eisteddfod’s £440,000 target figure for ticket income with some receipts still outstanding.

He said: “It’s been a very good event this year with a very good turnout in wonderful weather and the number of people on the Eisteddfod field during the day has been particularly good.

“We always have some fantastic concerts and competitions and this year was no exception but we made a major effort to make the daytime, on-field activities more attractive this year and it has paid off.

“We sold more than 6,000 day tickets more this year than last and that adds up to an almost 50 per cent increase.

“I think we’re almost there or thereabouts now so I would expect the final figure to be encouraging with the numbers for parking still to come in.”

This year’s big concert attraction was the appearance of keyboard king Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra on the last night of the Eisteddfod and the Royal International Pavilion was packed with almost 4,000 people.

The opening night concert, Carnival of Nations, featuring a massed male voice choir over 200 strong, also saw a near full house while Strictly Cuban, Thursday night’s double bill of Strictly Come Dancing stars James and Ola Jordan and the acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club from Havana, and Choir of the World with Only Men Aloud on Saturday both saw well over 2,000 attendances.

The Eisteddfod have already held their Extra Ordinary General Meeting and Terry Waite has again accepted the invitation to continue as President while Chairman Gethin Davies, who took over the post this summer and became the first man to do the job twice, has been confirmed in the post for 2014.

The new Vice-chair is accountant Nick Jenkins with Selwyn Evans continuing as Treasurer and Sian Eagar as Secretary.

The other major appointment made this year was that of Chief Executive with financial and business consultant David Neal chosen to fill the role just before this year’s event.

He said: “I am delighted to have been here at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod as Chief Executive.

“It has been a wonderful event, a jewel in Wales’s cultural crown, fully living up to its great history and tradition.

“It’s great strength is its fantastic volunteers who have again worked so hard to make this year a success and ensure that the event is heading in the right direction.

“The Eisteddfod has a terrific Music Director in Eilir Owen Griffiths who has played a huge part in that transformation but they also have many unsung heroes,  who work for them and who volunteer and give their time to the event. They are absolute diamond.

“The Eisteddfod is a fantastic institution and when anyone thinks of Llangollen they think of the International Eisteddfod – it’s a wonderful brand and plays a big part in putting Wales on the map.

“Our task is to continue to reinvigorate the brand while keeping in touch with the traditions of the Eisteddfod.

“Eilir has built a tremendous list of concerts and the event’s strength is in that and in the quality of the choral and dance competitions but we also needed to develop the daytime activities on the field and it is encouraging that we have gone some way to doing that.

“Our other task is to build stronger links with the local economy and work more closely with local businesses and to draw down outside funding and investment into the area.

“I’m very encouraged by the Board we have to work with after the General Meeting last week and that work starts now.”

Gethin Davies said: “We have a very good team here now and we just have to roll up our sleeves for 2014.

“This year’s event was very good. The competitive elements were brilliant and the general standard was very high and that was shown by the very large attendances we had while the evening concerts were excellent.

“We are now taking a very deep breath and trying to get back to ordinary life, tired and happy after a wonderful week and ready to do it all again next year.”

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