Enticing music festivals, literary fairs, exciting exhibitions and captivating crafts shows make up the cultural calendar in Denbighshire and Flintshire. A shining cultural beacon is Theatr Clwyd, the regional arts centre at the top of a rolling green hill a mile outside Mold. Nearly half a million people see a Theatr Clwyd Company production each year, either at Mold or at one of its on-tour shows around the UK. Actors Sian Gibson and Rhys Ifans are past members of its youth theatre. Winter brings a temporary ice rink to its grounds, while summer highlights the North Wales Open Art Competition with local professional and amateur artists exhibiting throughout the complex.
The rich vein of artistic talent in Flintshire is also displayed in May at Virgin Art, a week-long exhibition at The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Mold, when more than 300 paintings and photographs are displayed in the church aisles. Leading lights of contemporary art including 2015 National Eisteddfod gold medalist Rhian Hâf, the late ceramist Emmanuel Cooper, Reggie’s Roller Palace creator Olivia Brown, and state of the art designer David Poston have exhibited at Ruthin Craft Centre, Denbighshire. This purpose-built Arts Council of Wales-funded centre boasts three galleries, six artists studios, a shop, cafe and crafts workshops.
Revellers at Buckley Jubilee don glad rags on the second Tuesday in July when legend has it that the town of Buckley is entitled to a day off. Churches come together for a parade of floats and marching bands. The first of these annual gatherings was more than 160 years ago. It shows no sign of abating. Buckley is also home to Hawkesbury Little Theatre. Much smaller than Theatr Clwyd, this ambitious amateur organisation still manages to stage several riveting shows a year including a traditional panto.
Church Lane, Hawarden, Flintshire CH5 3DF
Check out Gladstone’s Library, Britain’s finest residential library at Hawarden. Once the retreat of Victorian era Prime Minister William Gladstone, it is housed in a Grade 1-listed building open daily for ‘Glimpse’ visits at 12noon, 2pm and 4pm. Each glimpse lasts 15 minutes. Visit website
St Asaph Cathedral
25 High Street, Saint Asaph LL17 0RD
St Asaph Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Diocese of St Asaph, one of the six dioceses of the Church in Wales. St Kentigern built his Church here in AD560. When he returned to Strathclyde in AD573 he left Asaph as his successor. Since that time the Cathedral has been dedicated to Saint Asaph and the Diocese bears his name. The present building was begun in the 13th century and is reputed to be the smallest ancient cathedral in Great Britain. It is the home of the William Morgan Bible and as such provides a vital link with Welsh culture and literature. Visit website
1 Gwalia Terrace, Oak Street, Llangollen LL20 8NS
Gwalia Ceramics sell beautiful contemporary ceramics, that have been handmade in the UK. Every piece has been made by an artist working in their studio in the UK. A good two thirds of the makers live in Wales whilst the rest live and work further afield. Gwalia Ceramics have invited makers of quality, originality and consistency into the gallery to delight and amaze you. Visit website
Clwyd Street, Ruthin LL15 1HP
Ruthin Gaol is the only purpose-built Pentonville-style prison open to the public as a heritage attraction. People can spend time exploring its nooks and crannies and learn about life in the Victorian prison system. See how the prisoners lived their daily lives: what they ate, how they worked, and the punishments they suffered. Explore the cells including the punishment, ‘dark’ and condemned cell. Find out about the Welsh Houdini and William Hughes who was the last man to be hanged there. Visit website
North Wales Blues and Soul Festival
New Street, Mold CH7 1NZ
In August North Wales Blues and Soul Festival pulls in music devotees with an international line up. Over three days and nights the main hub is at Kendrick’s Field, Mold. Past performers have included UK Blues queen Connie Lush, Greg Coulson, formerly of The Selecter, France’s whirlwind Alexis Evans, New Zealand blues band Brilleaux, and number one harmonica exponent Liam Ward. Visit website
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