An eisteddfod (ice-TETH-fod) is a traditional Welsh festival featuring contests in all the arts and crafts, especially in music and poetry recitation. The first recorded eisteddfod was held at Cardigan
by Rhys ap Gruffydd
, king of southern Wales
, in 1176
, and the festival became a popular medieval tradition. Although the tradition faded out in the Early Modern Period, the festivals were revived in the late 18th century
as a symbol of Welsh nationalist pride in the face of the increasing influence of mainstream British culture.
In the present day, the National Eisteddfod is held annually for one week in August, alternately in the north and the south. In a peculiar ceremony, the winner of the bardic competition is "chaired." A national bardic assembly (the gorsedd) has been a part of the National Eisteddfod since 1819. In addition to the National Eisteddfod, local eisteddfods are held throughout Wales during the year, and remain a crucial means of preserving the threatened Welsh language and culture.