THE Llangollen International Eisteddfod is on the up.
With a record turnover of more than £1m, the festival of music and international culture has defied the view that it's had its day.
It's the first time in Eisteddfod history that the turnover for the event has exceeded the million pound mark.
This is quite an achievement considering the 2001 and 2002 festivals made significant losses.
And the driving force behind this success is chief executive Gwyn Williams, who got on board the festival programme three years ago.
Mr Williams said: 'We are definitely on the up and the 58th festival this year is set to be the best yet.
'We are attracting newer and greater artists from all over the world and that's what people want - and we need to give people what they want.'
Nigel Davies, public relations officer for the festival, said: 'A couple of years ago when we were losing money, people were saying the festival had had its day and we should quit.
'But we have proved them wrong and we're increasing tickets sales and the number of competitors and entrants.'
With a more ambitious programme introduced at last year's festival, ticket sales rose by a massive 11.5%, and with this year's festival still some three months away, early indications show organisers are in for another record-breaking year.
Mr Williams added: 'We are very impressed with the number of tickets we have sold so far, we're in for a very successful year.
'An example of how well we're doing is the International Children's Day we hold every year. We have sold at least twice as many tickets now as we had done this time last year.'
Mr Williams, whose plan is to make the festival more up to date, or in his words to 'bring it in line with the tastes of the 21st Century', says it was his ambitious business plan which helped turn the festival's fate around.
He said: 'The festival was making a loss and we had to do something to reverse that. I suppose it was my business plan which has turned it around but it's been a corporate effort.
'It's a composite view but somebody has to lead it, and I'm very happy to be the one doing that.'
Mr Williams, a professional musician who has worked all over the country, felt it was necessary this year to introduce new competitions.
He said: 'We've got two new competitions lined up this year, the barbershop chorus and a choreographic dance competition. We've had a great response already and I think they are going be a spectacular feature of the festival.'
With a completely redesigned web-site, which Mr Williams says he views as an important marketing tool, the festival's reputation is now able to spread even further across the globe.
And once again the world-renowned festival has lived up to its billing as the musical Olympics, attracting competitors from almost 50 different nations.
Organisers were delighted to receive an e-mail from a lady in Florida who had visited the website and bought tickets for every day of the festival.
So what makes the Llangollen International Festival stand out from the rest?
Mr Williams says: 'This is the fore-most festival of its kind in the world. Nobody celebrates international culture like we do.
'When you think that the idea was dreamt up in a relatively small town, and 58 years later not only is it still going but it's still going strong, it's amazing.'
Mr Davies added: 'What we've achieved is remarkable. We have moved forward with new ideas and initiatives but we've kept to the core principles of the festival. A lot don't manage this which is why they fizzle out.'
Mr Davies added: 'We offer a broad range of musical tastes to attract new and different audiences. It is very gratifying to find out that people who have lived in Llangollen all their lives and had never been to the festival came here for the first time last year because of the new ideas we introduced.'
With international singing diva Shirley Bassey headlining the festival last year, and top performers Michael Ball and Aled Jones appearing this time, Mr Williams says the quality of artists proves organisers intend to be the best with the best performers.
Mr Williams said: 'Our Sunday Gala Concert is always a real success, with Shirley Bassey selling out in just five days last year. Although Michael Ball hasn't sold out as quickly, it is still only a matter of time before we have yet another sell-out on our hands.'
He added: 'Somebody said to me yesterday that the big names we have coming to the festival is a strong signal that we mean business. We want to offer the very best of all kinds of music.
'We have audiences all around us who want to come here if we give them what they want and what they are interested in.'
Mr Davies added: 'The festival is definitely on the way up but there is still work to do. And these figures reflect the hard work and willingness to adapt and change by all the festival.
'The festival was close to disappearing in 2002 but we made some brave moves which paid off and now we're well on the way to recovery. So here's to the next million!' Further information on the festival, which runs from July 6-11, can be obtained by contacting the International Eisteddfod Music Office on 01978 862003 or from the official website www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk.