Overseas visitors will be travelling from as far away as Australia, America and Canada to attend this year’s Wonderwool Wales, the award-winning show that celebrates all that’s great about Welsh wool and natural fibres.
The popular two-day event, held at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells on April 27 and 28, has sold all 220 stands for exhibitors, which has delighted the organisers.
Tickets for the 18th show, which traditionally attracts more than 6,000 visitors, can be purchased online in advance at https://wonderwoolwales.ticketsrv.co.uk . There will also be tickets for sale at the gate costing £12 per day or £22 for the weekend. Young people aged 16 years and under have free admission.
One of the star attractions this year will be an engaging Flock2Flight display of static and flying wet felted and needle felted birds made by fibre artist Janna Turner and two friends, Alex Johnstone and Deborah Taylor Dyer.
Shepton Mallet based Janna, who runs Flocks2Felts, and Alex are no strangers to Wonderwool Wales. Janna was project lead and felting advisor and Alex contributed with others to a special, eight-metre long exhibition entitled Alice in Wonderwool in 2022.
The eye-catching, hand crafted interpretation of Alice in Wonderland installation featured an array of captivating characters, all crafted from felt and fibre.
This year’s event will see nine Woolschool afternoon workshops each day which has required the organisers to book extra space on the showground. Some of the Woolschools, which give visitors the chance to learn or perfect their skills with help from an expert, are already sold out. Book places online by the Wonderwool Wales website.
The workshops are: An introduction to drop spindles with Marianne Larcombe and Jo Glenn, Improving your spinning with a drop spindle with Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth, Wet felted leaf brooch with Svetlana Lilley, Drum carding with Jill Shepherd, Macrame dream catcher with Alice Thomas, Botanical dyeing and Shibori resist techniques with Siân Lester, Backstrap weaving using rigid heddle with Helen Deighan, Introduction to needle-woven tapestry with Joanna Helm and Needle felted busy Mr Mole with Steffi Stern.
Another popular feature, the Sheep Walk fashion show, will keep the audience entertained on both days.
This year, all Wonderwool Wales visitors are being encouraged to knit, crochet or make and wear their own beanie or hat to add colour to the event. Stewards will be awarding vouchers to the best hats on both days.
Wonderwool Wales 2023 Bursary winners Jade Carey Holt, from Aberystwyth and Kay-lee Davies, from Capel Dewi, near Llandysul, will be exhibiting their work on stand C1.
New exhibitors are the Museum of Welsh Textiles from Knighton and Glamorgan Smallholders’ Great Glamorgan Sock Project, which involves members making a pair of socks from each sheep breed in the county.
To tantalise the tastebuds, the organisers have added some new street food caterers to provide a wider menu for show visitors.
Wonderwool Wales was first held in 2006 to promote the market for Welsh wool and to add value to products made by small wool and fibre producers in Wales.
The festival celebrates the green credentials of Welsh wool and its versatility as a material for creative crafts, designer clothes, home furnishings and more.
Wonderwool Wales covers everything from the start to the end of the creative process. Exhibits of sheep, raw and hand dyed fibres, yarn for knitting and crochet, embellishments, equipment, dyes and books can be found alongside superb examples of finished textile art, craft, clothing and home furnishings.
For those seeking creative inspiration, there will be demonstrations and have-a-go sessions hosted by some exhibitors.
“It promises to be another memorable Wonderwool Wales, with all 220 places for exhibitors sold out and another 10 on the waiting list,” said director Chrissie Menzies.
“A group of around 20 people will be jetting in from America and Canada with Rowan Tree Travel and one lady from Australia has arranged that her trip to see family coincides with our event.
“We are encouraging all visitors this year to make their own beanie or hat to engage our supporters and add a little bit of colour and fun.
Find out more about the 2024 show at www.wonderwoolwales.co.uk , like Wonderwool Wales Ltd on Facebook or follow on Twitter @wonderwoolwales
Exhibits from the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum’s ‘People of this house’ temporary exhibition.
This year’s temporary exhibition, titled ‘People of this house’, at The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in Tywyn will tell the stories of some of the people associated with more than 800 exhibits.
With nearly 90 railways represented in the collection, the museum provides a unique and comprehensive record of the 200-year history of narrow gauge railways. Exhibits range from complete locomotives to paperwork, signalling equipment and tickets.
Named in the collection are designers and builders of locomotives, those who gave their names to the engines, officers of railways whose names appear on signs and posters, quarry owners and those who worked for them.
The museum also celebrates Talyllyn Railway’s preservation pioneers.
Located at Wharf Station, Tywyn, the museum is open every day when trains are running on Talyllyn Railway. Admission is free although donations are encouraged. Visit www.ngrm.org.uk or www.talyllyn.co.uk for opening times and more information.
Last year’s Montgomery Canal Triathlon.
Montgomery Canal Triathlon is set to bring entries from across Britain on May 18 for the 12th year.
The participants will see sections of the Montgomery Canal that have been restored, others where restoration work continues and the remaining sections which still have to be brought back to life.
The annual triathlon, starting in Newtown and ending in Shropshire, is one of the most popular cross border events and is organised by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal and supported by the canal owners, the Canal & River Trust. Money raised goes towards the canal restoration.
Organisers say the triathlon is an endurance event, not a race and entrants can choose to do the whole course or only one or two sections. It’s a great day out for families with children, groups of friends, experienced triathletes and those who enjoy just a communal bike ride, paddle or walk.
This triathlon has had several formats over the years and is now a special ‘marathon’ length of about 27 miles to the finish at Schoolhouse Bridge, Crickheath, near Oswestry, the site of a major restoration project of 2023.
Christine Palin, Friends of the Montgomery Canal chairman, said: “The Montgomery Canal Triathlon is one of the biggest events on or near the canal. It is a great event for families as well as the more athletic.
“Over the years, it has been joined by solo entries and families with ages from eight to 80. I am sure this year will see as many joining in again.
“As usual, the event will start in Newtown with a cycling route along the attractive towpath towards Welshpool, followed by the canoe section on the navigable canal through Welshpool which always attracts a lot of attention from passers-by.
“After the final changeover, participants will jog or hike along a section with a lot of restoration activity to cross into Shropshire at Llanymynech. The final two miles on foot is part of the Shropshire Gap, a derelict section where funds are still needed for restoration.
“A great deal is happening on the canal this year with channel and towpath improvements in Powys under the UK government Levelling-Up Fund.
“There will be new nature reserves to safeguard the canal’s special flora and fauna and safe towpath routes at some of the remaining road crossings.
“In Shropshire, volunteer working parties, supported by our Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal, are working to restore the canal north of the triathlon finish which has been dry and derelict for 80 years.
“The proceeds of the triathlon will support the appeal to provide them with equipment and materials.
“The next few years will see many improvements along the Montgomery Canal, while all the time care will be taken to protect what is special about the canal which will be a great benefit for residents and visitors.”
All entrants who complete a section receive a commemorative medallion made from local slate. Bookings can be made through www.TheMontgomeryCanal.org.uk/friends/montgomery-canal-triathlon/ which will give details of this year’s arrangements which are slightly different from 2023.
Entries must be booked by April 18, though bookings may close earlier if the event is fully subscribed.
The Strata Florida Trust begins its programme of courses for 2024 on Friday and Saturday, February 9-10, with an introduction to night photography with Dafydd Wyn Morgan.
The trust is restoring Mynachlog Fawr farmhouse and farm buildings which are located next door to Strata Florida, a famous 12th century Cistercian abbey near the village of Pontrhydfendigaid, between Devil’s Bridge and Tregaron, in the Cambrian Mountains.
Whilst celebrating Strata Florida’s unique landscape and history, the trust aims to bring new economic, social and cultural life to the area.
The trust’s courses programme for 2024 is packed with a range interesting topics and new skills to learn. “Whether you’re looking to try something completely new, or advance a skill, come along and join us,” said Carys Aldous-Hughes, trust director.
“We are proud to be working with many local Ceredigion-based artists and experts, including Marian Haf, Dafydd Wyn Morgan, Nathan Goss and Professor Dafydd Johnston, who will be sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with visitors.
“We are really excited to be running so many new courses in 2024 and looking forward to welcoming more people to Strata Florida.”
Mr Morgan will be repeating his introduction to night photography on March 8 and 9 and November 1 and 2, whilst also focusing on ‘Photographing the Milky Way on September 6 and 7.
‘Maintaining Historic Buildings’ is the topic for Mr Goss on March 7, while Marian returns to run another of her ‘Printing with Packaging’ workshops on April 18 and October 16.
Brand new courses this year include ‘Spring foraging’ and ‘Autumn foraging’ with Lucas Harley-Edwards on April 27 and September 28 respectively, ‘Words from the Meadow: Creative writing’ and ‘Writing the Dark: Darkness as Inspiration’ with Jacqueline Yallop on May 18 and November 23 respectively and ‘Cistercians in Wales’ with Profession Jane Burton on June 9 and 10.
An archaeology field school ranges from one day to one to four weeks, both residential and non-residential, from June 17 to July 14.
Professor Johnston will turn the spotlight on ‘Barddoniaeth Ystrad Fflur’, which will be delivered in Welsh, on October 28.
To register and find out more about courses, visit https://www.strataflorida.org.uk
or contact the trust at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Nathan Goss leading a course for the Strata Florida Trust.
Sweaters from the Erfskip Exhibition.
An exhibition inspired by woollen fishermen’s sweaters made in the Netherlands a century ago arrives in Mid Wales on February 10 when it opens at Meirion Mill in Dinas Mawddwy, near Machynlleth.
The Erfskip Exhibition will feature wool and associated crafts from Wales, Shetland, the Hebrides, the Aran Islands and elsewhere, archive film and visual arts, young people’s workshop productions, photographs and more.
Between February 10 and March 24, the exhibition will be centred on Meirion Mill and Ysgol Bro Idris, Dolgellau, with elements also taking place in Cemaes, Trawsfynydd, Aberystwyth and Caersws.
This exhibition story begins in a small coastal village called Moddergat, in the north of Frŷslan, Netherlands. A fishing and farming community began to research and then to re-create the woollen fishermen’s garments that used to be made there a century ago.
Farmers bred the sheep and sheared them, others carded, dyed and spun the wool and many people became involved in the knitting.
Old photographs and written records were dug up and, in a few years, a successful small community business was developing, making and selling warm, beautiful and natural jumpers modelled on those the Moddergat fisherman set out to sea in more than a century ago.
Excited by what they’d achieved, the community then created an exhibition, demonstrating and contextualising the work. It was so popular that it was decided to take exhibition on tour to other shepherd communities, firstly to Wales and then on to other farming and fishing cultures across Western Europe.
It has already been to Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, to Shetland Woollen Week and to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. It’s an exhibition with a difference – in at least three ways.
Firstlyl, it’s growing as it goes - wherever it stops, each community adds in elements from its own culture and experiences, so everybody can enjoy and learn from the achievements of others.
Secondly, wherever it goes, the hosts use it as a focus for their own interests and concerns, building events, discussions and workshops around it.
Lastly, it’s making this journey fuelled only by enthusiasm, energy and excitement. The organisers haven’t asked for a penny of public money to finance its travel, its display costs or anything else.
A Mid Wales visitor attraction, Meirion Mill specialises in a range of products, from clothing to soft furnishings and home wares.
The business is a member of MWT Cymru, an organisation that represents around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.
Violinist Ezo Sarici and Turkish pianist Deniz Cengiz who will be playing at Gregynog Hall on Thursday night.
Tickets are still available for a performance by Sinfonia Cymru violinist Ezo Sarici and Turkish pianist Deniz Cengiz at Gregynog Hall at Tregynon, near Newtown on Thursday night (January 18).
Gregynog Hall bills the concert as an “absolute treat to banish the winter blues”.
Ezo, who started music aged four at the Royal Academy of Music ‘First String Experience’ programme, fell in love with the famous Music Room at Gregynog when she performed there with Sinfonia Cymru last year.
She studied at Junior Guildhall before attending the Yehudi Menuhin School. She has performed in concert halls including The Royal Festival Hall, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.
This time Enzo returns to Gregynog with internationally acclaimed pianist Deniz who also began her musical education at the age of four in Istanbul, Turkey.
The performance starts at 7pm and the duo’s repertoire will include Brahms Sonatas, Piazzolla and Gershwin. View a brief film of one of their performances at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS17IPuEDq4 .
Tickets cost £15, with free admission for under 18s and students, and can be booked by calling the Gregynog Hall on 01686 650224, emailing email@example.com or popping into the coffee shop.
Gregynog Hall is one of Wales’ leading country estates and former home of art collectors and public benefactors Gwendoline and Margaret Davies who were passionate about music.
They converted a billiard room into the Music Room and formed a choir, mainly from estate employees and their families. From 1932 to 1938, an Annual Festival of Music and Poetry was held at Gregynog Hall, conducted by such musical luminaries as Sir Henry Walford Davies and Sir Adrian Boult.
Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Holst and George Bernard Shaw were amongst the list of other distinguished guests who visited.
The Davies sisters together created one of the most important private collections of art in Britain and donated 260 works to the National Museum Wales, where it has become a national treasure.
The collection includes works by French Impressionists and post-Impressionists Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Pissarro, Sisley and Berthe Morisot. Some pictures, a lot of furniture and many books owned by the sisters still remain at Gregynog.
JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion, recipient of Motorsport UK Environmental Sustainability Award.
Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.
The JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion is this year’s recipient of the Motorsport UK Environmental Sustainability Award.
Established in 2012, the award was created to acknowledge a truly exceptional achievement or contribution towards environmental responsibility and active promotion of sustainability within motorsport activities, events and communications.
The achievement places Rali Ceredigion amongst illustrious company, alongside previous winners that include Williams Advanced Engineering, Silverstone Circuit, Rally for Wales, Lord Drayson and last year’s winners Extreme E, the ground-breaking global championship featuring electric off-road vehicles.
Motorsport UK Chairman David Richards, CBE, said: “The Environmental Sustainability Award is testament to Rali Ceredigion’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact and the organiser’s efforts to integrate sustainable practices.
“Their dedication to preserving the beautiful landscapes of Ceredigion and its surroundings, while still offering competitors and spectators thrilling experiences, showcases the harmonious coexistence of motorsport and environmental sustainability.
“By receiving this award, Rali Ceredigion demonstrates that motorsport events can be conducted responsibly, respecting ecosystems and engaging with the local communities in which they take place.
“The event’s work in promoting eco-friendly practices is a shining example for all organisers. Motorsport UK is confident that Rali Ceredigion’s commitment to environmental sustainability will inspire other events to follow in their footsteps, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable future for our sport.”
JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion organising committee chairman Phil Pugh was understandably delighted to receive news about the award.
“We fully appreciate how fortunate we are to be able to run our event in such a beautiful part of the world,” he said, “and we don’t take this privilege for granted.
“From the first time the event was held in 2019, we have focussed on sustainability. Each year, working together with our partners, we have explored new opportunities to decarbonise our event, implementing initiatives that will further reduce our impact on the environment, support local communities and educate people on options for lower-carbon transport.
“Therefore, winning the Motorsport UK Environmental Sustainability Award means a great deal us. To that end, I have to thank and commend the organising team for taking our commitment to sustainability and the environment to their hearts and for ensuring it stays paramount in everything we do.”
Such has been Rali Ceredigion’s commitment to sustainability, following the 2023 event it became the first UK rally to be awarded two-star FIA Environmental Accreditation.
This year, it offset 100 tCO2e via responsible and certified rewilding programmes in partnership with Carbon Positive Motorsport, one of the highest offsetting amounts by any rally event globally.
The Motorsport UK Environmental Sustainability award will be presented at the governing body’s annual ‘Night of Champions’ at the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall on January 27, 2024.
About the event
Rali Ceredigion ran for the first time in 2019 and in doing so, became the first ever stage rally held on closed public roads in Wales. The event was heralded a great success, an accolade that saw it extend over two days, with more competitive mileage and a spectator stage in Aberystwyth town centre when it ran for the second time in 2022.
Building on achievements, organisers stepped things up further in 2023, increasing the length of the route, introducing further attractions for spectators and developing the rally’s sustainability credentials in a move that saw it become the first UK rally awarded two-star FIA Environmental Accreditation.
The 2024 JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion will take place between 30th August and 1st September. As well as the Motorsport UK British Rally Championship and Protyre Asphalt Championship, the event will host a round of the 2024 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), in a move that will see this major international competition return to Wales for the first time in 28 years.
The grand doors to Powis Castle and Garden in Welshpool are open for a for a magical ‘Treasured Christmas’ experience.
Back are the huge, twinkly trees and lavish decorations with a new addition of enchanting outdoor light projections filling the great courtyard of this iconic Welsh castle.
Between December 14 and 23, the castle will stay open until the later time of 7pm for the festive themed lighting display. From dusk in the courtyard, the captivating display will welcome people to the medieval castle, inviting them to stop and watch the projections before ascending the steps.
Inside Powis Castle, ‘A Treasured Christmas’ returns until December 31 - closed 25 and 26 - with each State Room display taking inspiration from the treasures that lie within.
Visitors will be transported to different parts of the world as they explore beautifully decorated spaces, over-the-top Christmas trees and festive fireplaces.
With an Italian twist in the Dining Room, an Elizabethan theme in the Long Gallery and glistening Chinese decorations in the Blue Drawing Roo, which celebrates the rare Chinese lacquer screen, there’s something special to discover in every corner of the castle.
Every detail has been carefully thought out and meticulously planned over the last year by a team of dedicated National Trust staff and volunteers. From handmade mice and evergreen garlands to carefully wrapped presents, the magical Christmas display takes months to install.
Sarah Johnson, National Trust Cymru’s visitor operations and experience manager at Powis Castle and Garden, said: “A huge amount of planning and careful consideration goes into delivering this spectacle for our visitors. Every year we like to add something new to the experience.
“This year, we will be open until 7pm on selected days, so it gives everyone a chance to enjoy the festive displays with friends and family after work.
We can’t wait for visitors to step into the courtyard and be met with festive projections lighting up the front of the Castle. Christmas is always a magical time at Powis and we look forward to welcoming everyone back this year.”
Throughout December, including on late nights, the Courtyard Café and Shop will be open for visitors.
For those looking for a daytime winter walk, the world-famous Baroque Garden stays open all month, excluding December 25 and 26, from 10am to 4pm daily. See statues sparkling in the frost along the Italianate Terraces, admire ancient evergreen yew hedges and look out for 'gardeners notes' which will be dotted around the garden to discover top tips for gardening at this time of year.
To plan a festive visit head to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle-and-garden
No pre-booking is required and normal admission prices apply.
‘A Treasured Christmas’ awaits visitors to Powis Castle from December 14-23.
Copyright National Trust images - Paul Harris
The importance of tourism industry collaboration and unity was emphasised by speakers at the annual meeting of an independent organisation that represents around 600 tourism and hospitality business across Mid Wales.
The impact of Welsh Government legislation on the industry was one of the main discussion points at a members’ forum which followed the annual meeting of MWT Cymru (Mid Wales Tourism) held at Hafan yr Afon, Newtown on Tuesday.
MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans, chief executive Val Hawkins, MBE, and Wales Tourism Alliance chairman Suzy Davies all stressed the need for tourism and hospitality businesses to stay united.
Addressing her final annual meeting before retiring next year, Mrs Hawkins outlined MWT Cymru’s role and work, emphasising: “We are here to sell Mid Wales region as a must-visit destination.
“We are experienced at working at the interface of the private and public sectors and it’s extremely important that we build on that collaborative approach.”
She is keen to expand seasonal and themed offers to attract more visitors during 2024 when MWT Cymru will be rolling out a rewards and incentives project, funded by the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, to support towns and communities in Powys.
Mrs Hawkins encouraged businesses to collaborate with MWT Cymru and Visit Wales to attract more international visitors to Mid Wales by offering unique experiences and to focus sharply on customer service and repeat business.
“In these uncertain times, the unity and resilience of our business community are more critical than ever,” she added. “Together, we will navigate these challenges and ensure that Mid Wales continues to shine as a leading destination.”
Mrs Davies said there were positive signs that the Welsh Government is beginning to listen to the WTA and other industry leaders’ concerns about the cumulative impact of new legislation.
The cited examples of how the WTA and others were trying to influence new legislation for the statutory regulation of accommodation providers, a proposed tourism tax and a reduction in the school summer holiday in Wales.
“We need to stand together with a united voice and avoid any sense of isolation when representing the tourism industry,” added Mrs Davies, who heads an alliance representing around 6,000 businesses in all sectors of tourism industry across Wales. “What we are doing collectively is working.”
Mr Rees-Evans thanked the WTA for its work on behalf of the tourism industry and MWT Cymru staff for keeping members “ahead of the curve” with information about Welsh Government legislation.
“Without MWT Cymru, tourism and hospitality businesses in Mid Wales would not have a voice,” he said. “We punch way above our weight in terms of the work we do on behalf of the industry and it’s really important that tourism businesses become members if they want to have an influence.”
MWT Cymru re-elected Greg Loweth, business development manager at The Metropole Hotel and Spa, Llandrindod Wells as a Powys trade director. He was joined on the board by Shane Logan, general manager of Powis Castle and Garden, Welshpool.
MWT Cymru represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality operators across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia. Businesses wishing to join the not for profit, membership organisation are asked to contact Tel: 01654 702653 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Rowland Rees-Evans, Mid Wales Tourism’s chairman.
Members of the independent tourism organisation for Mid Wales are being urged to attend the annual meeting next week when updates will be given on Welsh Government legislation for the industry.
Changes to the tax criteria for self-catering accommodation, a proposed tourism tax and statutory registration of all visitor accommodation in Wales will all be on the agenda at Mid Wales Tourism’s annual meeting at Hafan yr Afon, Newtown on Tuesday, December 5, at 11am.
Earlier this year, the Welsh Government changed the tax criteria which allows self-catering accommodation to qualify for business rates instead of council tax.
A self-catering property must now be let for a minimum of 182 days to qualify for business rates. Local authorities have the power to triple the council tax premium for accommodation that doesn’t meet the new criteria.
The Welsh Government is still consulting about introducing a tourism tax and the registration of all visitor accommodation.
Wales Tourism Alliance chairman Suzy Davies will give the latest update on the regulations while Val Hawkins, MBE, Mid Wales Tourism’s chief executive and chairman Rowland Rees-Evans will review the past year and reveal plans for 2024 at a members’ forum which follows the formal annual meeting.
“I hope that as many members as possible are able to attend the annual meeting to hear important updates, give their views and help shape the direction of Mid Wales Tourism in the coming year,” she Mrs Hawkins
Mid Wales Tourism, also known as MWT Cymru, represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality operators across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia. Businesses wishing to join the not for profit, membership organisation are asked to contact Tel: 01654 702653 or email: email@example.com .
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