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An opportunity to celebrate the past, present and future by bringing the past to life like never before, with attractions, events and activities at legendary locations across Wales.

First published:
3 January 2017
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

The aim is to create new Welsh legends, immerse visitors in our epic story, and make new legendary experiences.

  • bringing the past to life like never before
  • culture and heritage at the centre of Wales marketing
  • building a truly distinctive identity for Wales on the world stage
  • funding available for innovative projects.

The Year of Adventure 2016 was the first in a series of thematic years, and proved to provide a focus for product development and the promotion of Wales – which resulted in an epic year - with north Wales being named as one of the top 10 places on the planet to visit this year. Visitor numbers also soared with an increase of over 40% in average expenditure from day-visitors to Wales as well as a growth of 15% in international tourism visits during the first 6 months of 2016.

2017 is about bringing Wales’ culture and heritage to the centre of Wales marketing. £150m per year is spent on holidays where culture and heritage is the main activity. More and more people are visiting Wales to experience our culture and cultural heritage. Cultural tourism is a vital component - 61% of overseas visitors cite our historic sites as a key reason for their visit to Wales.

The Economy Secretary, said:

“The Year of Legends provides a platform for us to tell our story and promote our heritage and culture to the world and is the perfect opportunity for us to work across the tourism and arts sectors to find new and innovative ways of telling that story.

“2017 certainly isn’t about looking backwards, the Year of Legends is about bringing the past to life like never before, with cutting-edge innovation. It’s about creating and celebrating new Welsh legends modern-day personalities, products and events that are made in Wales, or enriched by coming here.

”This is an opportunity for communities across Wales to pull together and help us tell the story of Wales. The long-term vision is to take pride, and to strengthen and enhance the very fabric of the culture and communities we serve to promote in the first place, providing a firm basis for future legends to emerge.”

The Year of Legends will feature an unprecedented calendar of creative activities in Wales’s castles and the unveiling of 2 major new artworks of international repute. Wales will be promoted as the land of storytelling, working with VisitBritain to mark the release of a new film about King Arthur, and recognising global talent inspired by Wales.

A rich and inspiring programme of events, exhibitions and collections delivered by major cultural partners including Amgueddfa Cymru and the National Library of Wales will feature legendary works and themes.

In June, Wales will welcome the UEFA Champions League Final to Cardiff – the single biggest sporting event in the world this year. To maximise this opportunity there will be multi-lingual digital campaigns, experiential installations, and global media coverage, as the scene is set for the other legendary sporting events such as cricketing’s Champions Trophy and golf’s Seniors Open.

Visit Wales has already approved £1.28m for 35 projects to help support private and public sector stakeholders develop projects aligned to the Year of Legends. A key aim of the support is to support greater partnership working and collaboration at the destination level, with future funds focusing on higher quality innovative projects that continue to support themed Years activity.

One example is the glamping pop-up hotel project, run by Best in Wales in partnership with Cambria Tours and George & Tomos Architects. Epic Retreats is a completely unique hotel that will celebrate Wales’s Year of Legends 2017 by allowing people to enjoy the best landscapes and experiences Wales has to offer while staying in 3 breath-taking locations in one of 8 bespoke cabins, designed specifically for the project.

Funding is now available for projects which can help support the Year of Legends in Wales.

The following are some of the projects which have been supported by Visit Wales funding:

  • 25 - 26 March - A Merlin Festival Carmarthenshire - to celebrate the legend of Merlin and other Arthurian characters said to have lived in Carmarthenshire. The festival is in the market town of Carmarthen itself and is set to feature street entertainment, magic, a local produce market, plus a community/ schools sculpture trail.
  • 24-25 June - The Tournament , Conwy – Visitors are invited to live the legend and visit Conwy to be part of the Year of Legends 2017 for some Midsummer’s eve celebrations. The Tournament is a major free event in the Town of Conwy which will include will include a jousting exhibition/competition, living history camps, a medieval market, dragons, jesters and other street entertainers. In addition to a medieval banquet on Conwy Quay.
  • April - Literature Wales will launch the Land of Legends website which maps special places associated with legendary Welsh myths and stories, alongside great Welsh places to eat, drink, shop, enjoy, explore and relax. Visitors will be able to create their own bespoke days out based on their interests, past-times and passions.
  • Landscape Legends - Pop-Up Experiences by Snowdonia Active: Building on the success of the 2016 pop-up adventure series, the project will use a rich mix of history and heritage linked to the iconic landscapes of Wales to promote the unique outdoor adventure tourism. The pop-up experiences project will deliver a series of visitor facing events linking adventure and legends. Some will involve unexpected adventure at legendary venues such as castles.

Images for use in relation to Year of Legends can be found on the following link: (external link).