THE 63rd Llangollen International Eisteddfod got underway last night with a brand new gala concert featuring West End soloist Mark Evans and Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir.
It is the first time the evening concert has been staged to start the festival which gets into full swing today with International Children’s Day.
Also on last night’s bill were Côr Godre’r Aran, Cantorion Colin Jones based at Rhos, Wrexham and Faryl Smith, who won at Llangollen before shooting to fame on TV show ‘Britain's Got Talent’
Today is Children’s Day with hundreds of youngsters from schools across the region descending on Llangollen’s Royal International Pavilion to take in the festival’s special atmosphere.
The traditional Peace Message will also be delivered on centre stage today by local school children, a beacon of hope for unity among nations.
Entertainment on the field include shamanic drummers Regelo Feher Taltos from Hungary, tribal desert music with Etran Finatawa from Niger and Cajun Music from Louisiana with the Magnolia Sisters.
Later in the afternoon at 4.30pm is the performers parade lighting up the streets of Llangollen as they dance, sing and play their way through the town.
And tonight actress and singer Barbara Dickson takes centre stage singing a selection of her classic hits with the first of the big star concerts .
Tomorrow competitions get underway in earnest with performers from around the world displaying their talents for the Eisteddfod’s song and dance titles. It will be followed in the evening by the Llangollen Peace Concert featuring the best of folk dancers and choirs from around the world.
Thursday focuses on the cream of the globe’s young talent with dancers, singers, choirs and instrumentalists competing on centre stage.
Later Eisteddfod favourite Sir Willard White returns for the next big name concert Robeson Re-explored to celebrate the music of icon of equality and human rights Paul Robeson.
Pipes, fiddles and drums characterise Friday’s International Celtic and Folk Day with Brit Award-winning Blake joined by Soprano Natasha Marsh for an evening of music spanning opera, the classics and pop.
Saturday is International Family Day with a feast of musical entertainment for mum’s, dads and children on the Maes.
Competitions continue with choreographed folk dancing, female choirs and male choirs, Barbershop and Songs From the Shows.
Then in the evening the five winners of the choir competitions will battle it out for the famous Pavarotti Trophy and be crowned Choir of the World 2009.
Wrapping up this year’s festival for the first time will be a day of entertainment on Sunday including singer Amy Wadge, band 9Bach and Cantorian Rhos.
Finally in the evening this year’s festival will be brought to a close with the last concert Licence to Thrill featuring the best of James Bond’s music hosted by former 007 girl Honor Blackman.
Earlier this year the popular Faenol Festival had to be cancelled as the credit crunch bit hard.
But Eisteddfod organisers are optimistic this year’s festival will be a hit and pull in the crowds despite the tough financial times.
Mervyn Cousins, Llangollen International Eisteddfod Executive Director said: “Sadly the Faenol Festival had to be postponed this year.
“But even with the credit crunch ticket sales are going really well for the Eisteddfod and are up on last year.”