In a natural amphitheatre just outside Bangor in Northern Wales, the annual Gwyl y Faenol (Faenol Festival) at the Faenol Estate has been drawing top-calibre performers from a variety of musical fields since its inception in the year 2000. Audiences come from all over the world, and the overwhelming consensus has been “I can’t wait to go back again”
Bryn Terfel, world-renowned opera superstar, originated the Festival, often called the BrynFest. He was born in Wales and so has strong ties to the country and its traditions that he considers his birthright. He established a trust fund with the purpose of encouraging young talented artists in the world of music, as he was encouraged when first starting out.
Bryn has expressed chagrin at the lack of major sponsors for the event, but after the disappointment of having to cancel the Festival in 2009, he says that it was only a matter of taking a step back in order to come back with all flags flying in 2010. Both the Welsh Assembly and the Wales Heritage Minister have endorsed the event as a tremendous contribution to Wales’ image both in Britain and around the world.
Previous years have seen a rapid rise in the enthusiasm of fans as well as performers, and after the hiatus of 2009, Bryn’s Faenol Trust has joined in a partnership with the Universal Music Group and Raymond Gubbay, two of the premier concert producers in the world. Bryn Terfel said he was delighted that the future of the event will be secure for at least three years, and expects this year’s Festival to be the best ever.
In 2008 the line-up included major stars such as John Barowman and Daniel Boys as well as Bryn himself, and past years have seen many spectacular performances by top-billed performers such as Michael Ball, Connie Fisher, Girls Aloud, and the best of Welsh rock and pop singers. The Festival has won the award for Best Show in Wales, and is expected to be the highlight of summer events this year.
Traditionally scheduled over the August Bank Holiday weekend, the event is open air, and concertgoers can book seats in the amphitheatre or bring their own chairs and blankets for promenade viewing and listening.
Backers expect to expand the crafts market that accompanies the musical performance, so the audience can come early and browse. The area is home to many artists, craftspeople and ‘food artisans’ who can set up stalls on the perimeter and showcase their wares.
This year the promoters say they are working on the logistics of access, parking and outdoor facilities to improve the overall experience for attendees. Weather is always a factor, and fans are advised to bring warm clothing just in case.
The theatre, in its magnificent natural setting with the Snowdonia Mountains as a backdrop, is an outstanding venue for this event, and both fans and producers have extolled the staging, lighting, organization and programming that are incorporated in the show. Catering to all musical tastes, the Faenol Festival has gained international acclaim, and this year’s event is predicted to be a huge success.