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For eisteddfod see festival

One casualty of the current outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has been the annual eisteddfod of the Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Welsh league of youth. Held every year since 1929, the eisteddfod had previously only been interrupted by the Second World War.

Now the epidemic has prevented the holding of local literature, music, recitation and crafts competitions and the cancelling of the national event. However, as an alternative the Urdd - in collaboration with the Welsh fourth television channel, S4C, and Radio Cymru - has come up with a "festival", Gwyl yr Urdd 2001, to be held in Cardiff, Llanelli and Caernarfon, and broadcast over three days. About 650 are expected to take part.

The first day will concentrate on competitions for under-12s, the second on under-15s and the third on "Urddaholics" - the loyal group of members who participate up to the age of 25.

The literary entries for the eisteddfod have already been judged, so the ceremonies of crowning and chairing of the bard will still be held, along with the awarding of medals for drama, composer and Welsh learners.

Inthe music and recitation sections, the event will be "more celebration than competition", according to S4C press officer Owain Pennar. Entry will be open to Urdd eisteddfod finalists from any of the past five years.

There is nothing new about the collaboration between the Urdd and Welsh broadcasters, and the logistics of organising this event at short notice have shown the effectiveness of that co-operation.

There will be live transmissions of the main ceremonies every day in the afternoon and evening, with highlights of the afternoon competition at 6.10pm, as well as an introduction to the festival on the day before it starts (May 29), and highlights on the Sunday (June 3) after it ends.

In short, the traditional eisteddfod has been saved from total disaster - and with it the hopes and expectations of thousands of young people throughout Wales.

Robin Buss

S4C TRANSMISSION DATES AND TIMES FOR THE URDD FESTIVAL

May 29 8.30pm: taster programme

May 30 to June 1 Live broadcasts at 2pm and 8pm, with highlights at 6.10pm

June 3 Highlights 9.15pm


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