From skateboards to scarecrows, from sculpture to squid
It’s festival time, Pembrokeshire-style
From skateboards to scarecrows, from sculpture to squid, you’ll find it all here in Pembrokeshire during a year of quirky festivals and events.
There are firm fixtures which have become etched on the calendar, while every year some new way of introducing visitors to local culture and custom seems to spring forth.
Alas, we can’t list them all, but here’s a little taste of what you can sample during this Year of Discovery in Wales.
Launched in 2018, this May festival weekend run by the National Trust is a celebration of all things coastal.
Based in and around Gupton Farm, it’s a chance to immerse yourself in the beautiful National Park coast and countryside and to experience what makes the area special.
Of course, there are stalls, live music, craft workshops and food and drink, but what makes this event unique is its proximity to Freshwater West beach.
Shore-side there are beach circuits, yoga and surf lessons, plus talks, activities and displays from coast and conservation organisations including National Trust and National Park Rangers and the RNLI.
Take a re-usable bottle, there will be drinking water on tap as the event is free from single-use plastics. Take cash too, there are no cashpoints nearby.
HSA Skatepark Jam, Haverfordwest
It is the Year of Discovery, so, if a skate park represents an alien landscape to you, here’s an ideal introduction to all that makes it great.
One of the most popular free events of its kind in the country, the Skatepark Jam has the pulling power to draw professional scooter, BMX and skate teams, giving awe-inspiring demos.
Run by Haverfordwest Skatepark Association, the jam is now in its 5th year. This year it’s in July (dates change yearly).
As well as the pro riders, there are competitions for anyone of any age to enter or just have a go.
There are prizes, giveaways, stalls, food and music. All proceeds go back into keeping the Haverfordwest Skatepark lit and maintained for the thousands who enjoy it all-year-round.
The Llangwm Literary Festival
Held every August in a former fishing village on the Cleddau Estuary, the Llangwm Literary Festival was recently hailed ‘a great delight’ by Griff Rhys Jones.
It showcases the best in writing and, as its website vows, ‘from Rajahs to Roald Dahl, there’s something for everyone’.
The line-up features authors, poets, presenters and musicians and there are creative writing and art workshops for adults and children.
Llangwm is a charming little riverside village with an active community at its heart, and those behind this growing festival look forward to welcoming visitors to share its secrets.
The three-day event is free to enter but you’ll need a ticket.
Pembrokeshire Fish Week Festival
It’s a tough call to find raft races, celebrity chefs, boat trips, barbecue trails and live music all on the same weekend, but this is Pembrokeshire – nothing is impossible!
During Pembrokeshire Fish Week in June, you can join fish-lovers and foodies from far and wide to celebrate being beside the seaside.
Across the week more than 200 fishy-themed events take place around the county. There are coastal foraging trips, filleting workshops and seafood tasting sessions running alongside family beach safaris, crabbing activities and guided coastal walks.
The festival opens with Milford Fish Festival, a free, family-friendly fun day at Milford Haven’s Mackerel Quay. There’s street food, live music and loads of activities.
Pembrokeshire Fish Week is co-ordinated by Pembrokeshire County Council and part-funded by Welsh Government.
Art Out West
This fabulously low-key festival is a true delight for anyone who appreciates art and enjoys the chance to try something new.
A week of Open Studios features makers and artists in their homes and workshops dotted around the winding lanes of south Pembrokeshire – there’s a festival map for you to follow to find them.
But the best bit is the free arts workshops on offer in the inspirational setting of the Stackpole Walled Gardens. Art in the Garden provides opportunities to see sculptures, paintings and installations, along with the chance to try your hand at all sorts of creative techniques, guided by skilled local artists.
Previous programmes have included an eclectic range of workshops including wood carving, pottery, one-string guitar making and drawing from nature.
Art Out West is normally held in August and relies upon funding.
Saundersfoot Cawl by the Sea
What could be a more fitting introduction to Wales than walking along the seafront, eating cawl, listening to a male voice choir and mingling with Welsh rugby stars?
That’s what happens during the annual Saundersfoot Cawl by the Sea festival. Now a staple in the Pembrokeshire calendar, it’s a must for food lovers (and fans of Welsh rugby!).
Cawl is the nation’s favourite dish, a clear broth traditionally made with lamb and root vegetables. Every spring, to celebrate St David’s Day, venues around the harbour village of Saundersfoot serve cawl to all-comers who then vote for their favourite.
There are activities for all the family, plus evening concerts, and there’s almost always the chance to see some of Wales’ national rugby team who support the event each year.
Fishguard Folk Festival
The Fishguard Folk Festival will be revelling in its 20th year in 2019.
Held each May, the event transforms the north Pembrokeshire town into a mini-Mecca for fans of folk music in all its varied forms.
There are dozens of free concerts held at venues across the town, as well as the main ticketed events by headline acts from the British folk scene and beyond.
Music workshops, sing-around sessions, ceilidh dances and family-friendly events also take place throughout the weekend.
And if you’re not sure about folk but you’re a music lover, give it a go in this Year of Discovery – the line-up is so diverse, you might just find your new favourite band
So, there you have it, just a glimpse of the colourful palette of festivals and events in Pembrokeshire throughout the year. There are tons more, from food festivals, music and arts festivals wellbeing festivals such as The Big Retreat and all manner of parades, fetes, scarecrow trails and more.