Page last updated at 19:00 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

Marching and music celebrations for St David's Day

The St David's Day parade in Cardiff in 2009. Photo:
The annual St David's Day parade in Cardiff is now in its seventh year and last year attracted 6,000 people marching

Celebrations for St David's Day have taken place across Wales, with marches and concerts in honour of the Welsh patron saint.

Cardiff staged its seventh annual 1 March parade, while in Swansea former X Factor runner-up Rhydian Roberts headlined a concert.

Those heading on train journeys between Swansea and Llandovery were entertained by a folk duo.

Cadw also offered free admission to its monuments, such as castles.

The march in Cardiff, which was supported by the city council and the Welsh assembly, was hailed as a "celebration of what it means to be Welsh".

The organisers - a group of volunteers - appealed for all those who live in Wales, regardless of background, to take part.

The civilian parade last year was supported by over 6,000 walkers including performing bands, jumping stiltsters, schools and groups in traditional Welsh costumes carrying the banners of Wales and Saint David.

Visiting one of Cadw's sites will give a fascinating insight into a piece of our past, and what better way to celebrate St Davids Day?
Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones

David Petersen, the chair of the parade, said: "Our aim is to transform the national and international perception of St David's Day as a Welsh national day - just as the Irish have done so successfully on St Patrick's Day all over the world.

"We want to make the occasion an unashamed and proud celebration of Welshness brimming with enthusiasm, creative energy, new ideas and new perceptions, to make Wales's national day a happy and unforgettable experience for all taking part."

The parade, which went past Cardiff Castle, the new central Library building and St David's shopping centre, finished in The Hayes.

Bishop's message

Among those taking part were young representatives of Wales' National Athletics Team, who carried a St David's message from the Bishop of St David's, the Rt Reverend Wyn Evans.

The young athletes carried the message from St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, to the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, taking in the parade - representing the runners who carried messages in ancient times.

Over the weekend leading up to St David's Day, they visited towns in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Swansea on the way to Cardiff, where mayors and other representatives added their goodwill messages.

Rydian Roberts
Rhydian Roberts will perform at a St David's Day concert in Swanse

A concert took place at the Brangwyn Hall as part of St David's Week in Swansea.

It featured Rhydian Roberts, the Chamber Orchestra of Wales and the Morriston Orpheus Choir - and marked a special moment for a Neath youngster.

The audience saw chorister Ellie McGuire sing Welsh lullaby Si Hei Lwli Mabi with the 2007 X Factor finalist.

Her mother Sarah said the family was thrilled that Ellie was asked to perform.

"Ellie was diagnosed with autism when she was very young. She struggled to talk but she could always sing beautifully," she said.

"When she was five, she performed for Katherine Jenkins who was so impressed with Ellie's voice, that she told her to practise every day in order to make the most of her talent.

"So Ellie joined St David's choir and has never looked back."

To mark St David's Day, internet search engine Google featured an image of Caernarfon Castle on its UK home page.

Mayor of Caernarfon, councillor Hywel Roberts, said: "Thousands, if not millions, of people throughout the world will see Caernarfon Castle.

"Unfortunately it doesn't say that it is Caernarfon Castle but I'm sure that hundreds of thousands who've been to Caernarfon over the years will recognise it."

In Wrexham, the Crusaders rugby league team joined the annual parade through the town.

Commons Speaker John Bercow receives daffodils from children from sgol Gymraeg Llundain
Commons Speaker John Bercow receives daffodils from children from Ysgol Gymraeg Llundain

Across Wales, Cadw - the assembly government's historic environment service - marked the day by offering free admission again to its monuments in Wales, including Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd, Carreg Cennen Castle, Carmarthenshire, and Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said: "Visiting one of Cadw's sites will give a fascinating insight into a piece of our past, and what better way to celebrate St David's Day?"

The patron saint was also celebrated on the Heart of Wales train line with Welsh cakes and folk music.

Passengers travelling on the 0916 GMT service from Swansea to Llandovery and the 1132 GMT train back to Swansea were entertained by folk duo Fiddlebox.

In London, Commons Speaker John Bercow took delivery of St David's Day daffodils from pupils from Ysgol Gymraeg Llundain.

He introduced himself to the children with an informal "hello, I'm John" before taking them on a tour of Speaker's House.

He told BBC Wales he would be wearing a daffodil in the Speaker's chair in the Commons on Monday afternoon, after reading a lesson at the traditional St David's Day service in the chapel in the Commons crypt.

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