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Amy Dowden and partner Lloyd Griffiths performed under the city centre’s ‘The Light of Winter / Goleuni’r Gaeaf’ installation, which has been created specifically for the Welsh capital and expects to attract thousands of visitors this winter.
On Sunday night, Strictly Come Dancing professional Amy Dowden starred in a one-off special performance at Cardiff’s new, free, light and sound installation ‘The Light of Winter / Goleuni’r Gaeaf’ – a free family-friendly experience, from FOR Cardiff, in the heart of the city.
Dancing to Elin Fflur’s version of Welsh folksong Ar Lan y Mor and dressed in a gown from Pretty Perfect Boutique – Amy, along with partner Lloyd, performed under the spectacular installation in St John’s Garden at dusk.
Amy, who was born and trained in Caerphilly, hopes the installation – that’s been inspired by ancient Welsh Winter Solstice tradition, and aims to shine a light on the importance of community spirit – will bring people together this winter.
“It was so wonderful to dance under the light of this breathtaking installation, and I can’t wait to see people enjoy it during the winter months. This winter, everyone is feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis, so it’s really important that everyone has the opportunity to access joyful and fun activities.
“What’s even better is that the installation has been inspired by Welsh tradition, and that music – especially the powerful words of Ar Lan y Mor – is such a key part of the experience.
“So, whether you’re dancing, singing, or just gazing at the beautiful installation, I’d encourage everyone to make a visit to The Light of Winter installation, and experience the wonder for themselves.”
In place from 25 Nov – 11 Feb and open daily from 8am-9pm, the free installation, located at St John’s Garden near Cardiff Market, invites families to immerse themselves in the responsive light and soundscape – which includes a version of the Welsh folksong Ar Lan y Mor, recorded by St John’s Choir.
Best enjoyed at dusk and after dark, the installation, which is a new addition to Cardiff’s winter attractions from FOR Cardiff, is inspired by the ancient Welsh Midwinter celebration.
The traditional feast, held on the shortest day of the year, was known as ‘Goleuni’r Gaeaf (The Light of Winter)’, and was a time to celebrate community and welcome longer, brighter days.
In addition to the installation, there will be free family storytelling and art workshops in January ’23, hosted by local author and illustrator Jack Skivens. The artist, inspired by Goleuni’r Gaeaf, has designed a set of characters – a wren, robin, and starling – which will be located around the city centre to help families discover the installation.
Jack Skivens says,
“The story of the robin and the wren is synonymous with Celtic forklore, and they are often used to guide people to wonderful places. I hope this winter, they will help guide thousands of families to the Goleuni’r Gaeaf installation.
“I’m really excited to be delivering the workshops as I hope it will allow families to enjoy free, accessible activities in the city centre, and inspire young minds about Wales’ important traditional tales.”
Commissioned by FOR Cardiff and Christmas at Bute Park, and presented by Squidsoup, organisers hope that this free event will attract families from Cardiff and beyond to celebrate in the city centre at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is causing people across the UK to tighten their belts.
Adrian Field, Executive Director at FOR Cardiff, says,
“The public are looking for inexpensive ways to take part in Christmas festivities and days out this winter. This light and sound installation hopes to bring people together, to enable them to have a free, enjoyable experience with family and friends, during the winter season.
“For businesses, the pre-and post-Christmas period is the busiest time of the year. We really hope that, as this is the first winter period in almost three years where businesses can open fully without restrictions, this exhibition will remind families what an enjoyable experience heading into the city centre can be.”