As traditional communities in Wales celebrate Hen Galan, or Welsh New Year today, Visit Wales launches its 2017 Year of Legends campaign.
Building on last year’s record-breaking visitor numbers – international tourism visits during the first six months of 2016 were up 15% – Year of Legends will encourage visitors to discover and celebrate the past, present and future of Wales like never before.
Wales has more castles per square mile than anywhere else on earth, offering the ideal playground for anyone looking to explore culture, heritage, myths and legends. Its rich storytelling tradition will be highlighted with the release of Guy Ritchie’s new film “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” shot in Wales and drawing on the deep roots of Arthurian legend born in the Welsh landscape. The Year of Legends will also give recognition to creative personalities and productions inspired by Wales, from Roald Dahl to Dr. Who to Dylan Thomas, Laura Ashley and Richard Burton.
Iwan Rheon, star of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and official Year of Legends ambassador, commented:
I’m really excited to be a part of this project, I was so lucky to have Wales’ stories, history and culture as part of my upbringing.
Our stories and characters are fascinating and become truly spellbinding when you visit the landscapes and places where these tales and stories are rooted – and you’re never far from a piece of history in Wales.
When I’m not in Wales – I never miss an opportunity to talk about it – being an ambassador for the Year of Legends will be an added string to my bow! I’m looking forward to sharing Wales’ epic story.
With attractions, events and activities at legendary locations across the country, 2017 will offer international visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the year-long celebration.
New for 2017, Epic Retreats is a completely unique series of pop-up accommodation that will celebrate the Year of Legends by allowing people to enjoy the best landscapes and experiences Wales has to offer, while staying in breath-taking locations in one of eight bespoke cabins, designed specifically for the project:
A Merlin Festival in Carmarthenshire in March, The Tournament, in Conwy in June, and Landscape Legends – Pop-Up Experiences by Snowdonia Active make up part of a rich program of events and attractions along the theme of legends.
Until February, the shortlisted entries for Artes Mundi 7 – a leading global contemporary art competition – will be on display at National Museum Cardiff and Chapter. The winner will be announced on January 26.
And in June, another modern legend will play out, as Wales welcomes the UEFA Champions League final to Cardiff – the single biggest sporting event in the world this year.
Year of Legends is the second in a series of three themed years and follows on from the international success of the 2016 Year of Adventure, which led to North Wales being named as one of the top ten regions on the planet to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet.
In a study recently carried out by Visit Wales, 61% of overseas visitors cite the country’s historic sites as a key reason for their visit. In the UK, 42% of Brits said they would love to explore myths and legends of a certain area, with 35% keen to explore their heritage and see where their ancestors came from.
Also working as an official Year of Legends ambassador is singer and former front-woman of the Welsh alternative rock band, Catatonia and founder of the Good Life Experience Festival in Wales, Cerys Matthews, who commented:
I’m so excited to share our rich culture and heritage with the rest of the world. Wales’ myths and legends have been a huge inspiration for such creativity – from music, art to literature.
By giving a modern-day twist to our stories we can create some legendary experiences and inspire legends for future generations.