The BBC needs to stop sniping at the Eisteddfod

The National Eisteddfod


Once again there are people tediously arguing that the National Eisteddfod’s ‘Welsh-only’ rule should be abandoned and that the festival should allow people to compete in English.

For some reason, it’s the BBC that seems to pick at this scab year after year. And not a year seems to go by without some sort of manufactured hit-job on the eve of the festival.

It’s hard to stay mad at the BBC because their coverage of the Eisteddfod during the week is second to none. They forget about the criticism and it’s clear that their presenters are enjoying themselves.

But having to man the barricades again every year is bloody tedious. I love the Eisteddfod, but I wish I could do so without being made to feel like a bad person.

So, let’s just get it out there once and for all:

The Eisteddfod is a festival about Welsh-language culture. Just like the Brecon Jazz Festival is a festival of jazz and the Royal Welsh is a festival about farming.

It’s not an attempt to exclude anyone. That’s just what the festival is. It’s its USP.

What if I argued that the Brecon Jazz Festival excludes people who don’t like jazz, and that it should feature more Death Metal? Would the BBC give me air time?

What about if I made the case that the Royal Welsh should become a vegetarian festival? Would my opinion be taken seriously?

No. It seems that the National Eisteddfod is the festival whose raison d’être comes under this relentless barrage of criticism every year.


You could argue that the National Eisteddfod would be much more successful if it were to become more accessible to non-Welsh speakers.

But you’d be wrong. The truth is that the Welsh-only rule is the key to the Eisteddfod’s success.

If the language rule was abandoned, the National Eisteddfod would just become a pretty mediocre English festival.

Just like hundreds of English-language festivals already in existence.

There are over 20 other high-profile festivals in Wales every year, but the National Eisteddfod is the only one that is specifically a Welsh-language event.

Do you want an Eisteddfod where you can watch performers from every country under the sun compete in a variety of languages? That’s the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, in the first week of July.

Take away the Welsh language and nothing particularly exciting would happen at the National Eisteddfod that doesn’t already happen in hundreds of other festivals every year.

See: You can’t even attack the festival from a quasi-logical liberal perspective. From a business POV, the case for keeping the Welsh-only rule is watertight.

The only reason hundreds of thousands of people visit every year is for their yearly dose of Welsh language culture.

The Eisteddfod is the heartbeat that keeps the blood of the Welsh-language culture circulating for another year. Let’s keep it as it is.

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