The sixth annual Merthyr Rising festival – the fastest-growing urban festival in Wales – will be held during the second bank holiday weekend next month and promises great music and a strong left flavour.
The festival is a venue for music and ideas, celebrating working-class culture and resistance in the birthplace of the red flag. The 2018 event saw 2,500 people from Wales, the rest of the UK and from as far away as Australia in attendance – and culminated in a stunning performance in Penderyn Square by Welsh rockers The Alarm.
This year, alongside internationally-renowned musical acts such as Black Grape, The Sugarhill Gang/ Furious Five and Cast, there will be a whole host of eclectic music from the political rap of Lowkey, Jamaican roots artist Brushy One String to the soulful, progressive rock of Du Bellows – more than 50 music acts in total.
Merthyr Rising also supports and encourages grassroots political engagement, with a range of debates and talks which mirror the festival’s left ethos. The focus this year is on issues affecting working-class people directly.
Key debates this year will include:
• Why do working-class people vote Tory?
• Journalism and media bias: the state of the fourth estate.
• The working-class game: politics in football.
• The land of song? Is instrumental/music education becoming elitist?
• Fighting fascism: challenging the rise of the right.
Confirmed speakers include Paul Mason, Kerry-Anne Mendoza, Neville Southall, Steve Howell, and Martin Shipton among others. The Sunday will also see the continuation of two festival traditions: a Trade Union march through the town and a history walk with local historian Viv Pugh.
The festival site is also growing, with a new dedicated dance tent, a larger tent for the UNITE/SIMA Stage (focusing on new, original music) and an improved family area with a stage for children’s entertainment.
There is also a renewed focus on accessibility, with the festival working alongside ‘People First’, who aim to reduce stigma towards people with
learning difficulties, and the provision of a ‘rest area’ for anyone who needs a quiet space.
Merthyr Rising regularly receives commendation for being safe, friendly and welcoming. It will run 24-26 May in Penderyn Square, Merthyr Tydfil. Tickets can be ordered from http://www.merthyrrising.uk/tickets.
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