Started 7 years ago to celebrate the Drover heritage of the lovely Georgian market town of Llandovery, the annual Sheep Festival has gone from strength to strength and now attracts over 5000 visitors to town to join in with this fun-filled weekend, literally brimming with attractions and entertainment for all the family. The festival takes place over the weekend of 24th and 25th September. Read more about the town of Llandovery in our town guide here.
The full weekend programme can be found here, our guide to this year’s highlights are as follows:
The Food Theatre with live chefs cooking tasty local produce and masterclasses will be on all weekend and celebrates the very best of Welsh chefs and cooks. Local Chef Roger Stevens will be demonstrating delicious dish made with local lamb, and a lucky member of the audience will be selected to sit at the “Chef’s Table” to sample the dish as it is served!
From Llandovery’s Twin Town of Pluguffan in France, Jean-Marc Reinert will be holding two demonstrations, and will be cooking a shoulder of local lamb Bretonne style.
Returning by popular demand, discover some secrets of handmade artisan chocolate making from local Chocolatier Jules James of Black Mountain Gold.
Also in the Demonstration Theatre we are delighted to welcome Penny from Top Tier Cakes will show you the best ways to decorate cup cakes, and will invite children to have a go! find the full Food Theatre programme here.
Attend one of the many live music events taking place all over town – find out more here.
Take a tour around Llandovery’s Peculiar Past in the company of magician & “horrible historian” Dr Nicolas Grimoire- a Carmarthen based magician who specialises in combining story telling with mind reading and illusions.
Once described as “Nest of Devils and a Den of Thieves” the town has tales to tell of Roman Invaders, a butler who went bonkers and murdered his master, a terrifying coach crash and the horrific execution of a Welsh hero.
With ghastly ghosts, daring drovers and much more beside, Dastardly Discoveries – a weird history of Llandovery lasts an hour & departs twice daily. Find out more here. Meet outside the Tourist Info Centre.
Go on the Drovers’ Walk on Sunday morning led by Llandovery Walkers are Welcome meeting at Llandovery Station to car share at 9.00 am. The walk is 8km, 3hrs.
This is a walk which will take you over the plateau of Mynydd Mallaen, across which the Drovers of old would drive their cattle on their way from West Wales to the gathering point at Llandovery, where their beasts would be gathered into large herds before facing the long trek to the markets of London. The Drovers would keep as much as possible to these ancient pathways in order to avoid paying the tolls levied at the toll-gates of the roads below which followed a much more gentle route. Find out more here.
There will be loads of stalls with woollen handicrafts, and local produce; a Fleece to Shoulder shearing to finished garment demonstrations; spinning, needle-felting and wool-related rural skills being shown all weekend; science displays where you can make and launch your own rocket, and handle meteorites & dinosaur fossils; and introducing the amazing Joseph Peace Fire Stunt Spectacular which is a highly original show, blending amazing fire stunts with comedy and audience response in a fusion of modern circus and pantomime fun! You can catch Joe’s flaming entertainment on Saturday at 11am and 1.30pm, then on Sunday at 11am and 2pm.
The whole town joins in with performances on Saturday from local children singing & dancing, and Children’s Hour entertainment from S4C’s favourite Martyn Geraint at 2pm, and music throughout both days. The traditional sounds of Llandovery Male Voice Choir and Llandeilo Ukulele Band start off Saturday’s musical fun, and build up to Saturday’s excitement which is topped with the exciting Drovers’ Derby – a series of sheep races with an athletic ovine flock who have been training for weeks. This sheep-tastic event is thoroughly enjoyable, and you can take a £1 flutter on your favourite sheep & jockey!
After all this excitement, the party then continues in the Market Square with an outdoor bar and live music from Tony Royale with his own brand of cheesy pop, The Jazzabelles as jazzy songsters, and bluesy rock ‘n roll with seasoned crowd pleasers, Junior Hacksaw. There is also music elsewhere throughout town, with a Cider Festival at The Castle, The Krays playing at The Blue Bell, and Llandovery’s own Aunty Depressants playing at The White Hall.
Sunday has a more relaxed atmosphere with an invitation to Brunch of a bacon bap from a local food stand, whilst listening to the folky bluegrass sounds of Pigs Foot String Band and accordion/violin duo Fiddlebox. In the afternoon, Poetry Hour will showcase three local poets, and you can join one of Dr Grimoire’s Dark Tours of Llandovery, which casts light on Llandovery’s murky past with a theatrical tour of past misdeeds.
Kids can be more energetic with an amazing climbing wall with three difficulties, a round of Crazy Golf, or there’s always the best rides at the fun fair that will be on Castle Field all weekend.
Also on Sunday, teams can participate in the extreme sport of the Woolsack Race where they compete to grapple with and carry a wool sack in the fastest speed through town! NEW for 2016 is a Junior Woolsack Race, for children aged 14 & under. It’s a great spectator sport but Woolsack Race Team sizes are 4-6 people for the Woolsack Race & 2-4 children for the Junior Race and Teams can register on the day or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Running alongside the festival are the Llandovery YFC Sheepdog Trials all day Saturday which start at 7.30am, and the fascinating National Rare Coloured Breeds Sheep Auction on the Sunday that draws buyers from all over the UK. Both complimentary events welcome visitors and offer unique insights to the life and differing rural skills of the local farmers.
So, there is enough to fill your whole weekend at Llandovery! For the Sheep Festival, there is an entry charge of £5 for adults to the Castle Field events, and children are free. Most of the activities over the weekend in the Field are free, and if you attend both Saturday and Sunday, then your Sunday entry will be just £2.50!