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Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Celtic festival shows off Welsh culture
Inter-Celtic Festival - http://www.festival-interceltique.com/festival2/nuit_du_port_2_a.htm
Thousands of Celtic people descend on Lorient
A little corner of Brittany is an showcase for Wales and the Welsh as an international Celtic cultures festival gets underway.

Up to 500,000 people are expected to visit the annual inter-Celtic festival at Lorient in the northwest of France.

And Wales is the host nation for the 2002 event, with a pavilion to promote its food and drink, culture, music and crafts.

It has been hailed as an opportunity for post-devolution Wales to emerge from relative obscurity on the edge of Europe.

The Mabinogion
Tales from Wales: The Mabinogion is Celtic myth-making at its best
That was the theme of the Welsh Assembly Economic Minister Andrew Davies' speech as he officially launched Wales's presence at the festival Friday.

He said: "Wales has changed and the Wales of the 21st century is ready to play its full role in Europe and take its place on the world stage.

'Best kept secret'

"In the past, we have been described as a 'country in the shadows' or the 'best kept secret in Europe'.

"But it is now time for Wales to step into the limelight and let the world know what we have to offer."

The Welsh Dragon
Hidden secret? The Welsh flag

Mr Davies said devolution and the creation of a national assembly for Wales in 1999 had meant a fresh start for the country.

It had given Wales a fantastic opportunity to determine its own future and to create the kind of Wales that people wanted, he added.

He spoke at the Wales World Nation Pavilion, designed to promote a modern image to a European audience.

Cultural profile

Culture is a tradable commodity nowadays and the aim is to raise the profile of Wales' cultural contribution to the world beyond that of its most famous, clichéd stars like Tom Jones, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta Jones.

Many Welsh artists and performers are appearing at the event with financial backing from the assembly. A dance programme from Coeden Dan has been specially commissioned.

The Welsh showcase has been organised by artists David Peterson, while the Wales Tourist Board and the Welsh Development Agency will also be at Lorient.

See also:

03 Jul 02 | Wales
07 Feb 02 | Wales
01 Sep 00 | Wales
03 Apr 01 | Wales
30 Jun 02 | Wales
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