In the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells, if it’s not the ‘Man vs Horse Marathon’, it’s ‘Morris in the Forest’. Sarah Barrell pays a visit
Festivals are in vogue. From Addis Ababa to Aberdeen, tourism organisations are desperate to jump on the festival bandwagon. Gone are the days when a highbrow arts festival, venerable sporting event or a superlative samba carnival was the only way to get on the international events calendar. From tomato-throwing festivals in Spain to cheese rolling in England, it seems, the “mine’s weirder than yours” ethos now wins. In today’s cut-throat festival climate a little individuality goes a long way – in the case of Llanwrtyd Wells (say: thlan-oor-tid) a little individuality took this tiny Welsh town from obscurity to international tourism stardom. Or as close to celebrity as a town with a population of 604 can hope to get.
According to a sometime listing in Guinness Book of Records, Llanwrtyd Wells is the smallest town in Great Britain. But it has latterly dispensed with its diminutive accolade, preferring to pitch itself as “The Wackiest Town in Britain” or, as one Welsh tourism website puts it, “the eccentric capital of Wales”.