Wales

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod visa delays

Crowds at Llangollen in 2015
Image caption Crowds at Llangollen in 2015

Visa delays have been "extremely frustrating" for this year's Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, its chairman has said.

Dr Rhys Davies said some competitors would inevitably miss out on this year's world music festival in Denbighshire due to visa restrictions.

The Home Office said eisteddfod performers could apply under permit-free festival arrangements.

The 70th eisteddfod takes place between 5-10 July.

Bryn Terfel is set to headline the week's concerts, while more than 1,000 competitors from around the world will perform in the town.

But Dr Davies said some would inevitably miss out on the opportunity.

"I'm afraid quite a few countries and individuals won't get visas," he told BBC Wales.

"It has been difficult over the last few years. There have been problems with visa applications in particular.

"That is a very difficult thing to address because the world is as it is, and there is not much we can do as individuals to affect that, other than to support people in their applications for visas."

He said choirs or dance groups were also at risk of losing some of their members due to each application being considered individually.

"It's not a group application for a visa. So if a group is coming from a country that needs a visa, then one or two may not get through the application process."

Dr Davies added that the authorities "are certainly on our side, but when it comes to an individual application it's very difficult for them to help."

A Home Office spokesman said: "Performers coming to the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod may apply to come to the UK as visitors under the Permit Free Festival arrangements.

"Any applicants must meet the requirements of the immigration rules for visitors which are available to view on the gov.uk website."

Dr Davies said he wanted to encourage more competitors to come from countries which do not currently need visas.

"The eisteddfod has been represented by most countries in the world.

"We would like to see in the future far more applications from European countries as well, particularly regions like Brittany in France and Sardinia in Italy who were very well represented here in the past."

The eisteddfod will see some changes this year, including the traditional parade through the town being moved from Tuesday to Friday so that more competitors have arrived to witness it.

But the event will largely stick to tradition, with its prestigious Pavarotti Trophy awarded to the winners of the Choir of the World competition on Saturday.

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Image caption Kate Aldrich as Carmen

The week's evening events include Kate Aldrich performing a concert version of Bizet's opera Carmen.

There will also be a night of musical theatre, while the eisteddfod's vice president Jools Holland brings his rhythm and blues orchestra to the pavilion.

A 70th classical gala concert will bring bass-baritone Bryn Terfel and the Maltese opera star Joseph Calleja together.

Musical director Eilir Owen Griffiths said Llangollen had a history of supporting some of the world's best-loved performers.

"I think Llangollen has a great reputation. People have respect for that international eisteddfod stage because of Pavarotti, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo and most recently Bryn Terfel.

"We wouldn't have Joseph Calleja this year unless Bryn had said to him, 'You should go to Llangollen.' So there's word-of-mouth about Llangollen within the circuit."

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Media captionMusical director Eilir Owen Griffiths explains how performers like Bryn Terfel help make the festival a success

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