Gŵyl Coda 2018: Gathering Hope

Gŵyl Coda 2018: Gathering Hope

A blog by longterm Greenbelter and former festival trustee, Paul Bennett on the newest member of the Greenbelt Family…


The Welsh word “bach” translates literally as “small”. But it also carries connotations of affection and love. You don’t have to be small to have a big impact. Take Wales itself: a small country on our shared island, but with a deep influence.

The first Gŵyl Coda festival was held in July this year. Is Coda “Greenbelt Bach”? Perhaps. The family semblance is there: a field with marquees, portaloos and traders; music, theatre, visual art, worship and workshops; a desire to engage with the world’s injustices and celebrate its diversities. After listening to Wisam Salsaa talking about Banksy’s “Walled Off Hotel”, you could grab a falafel from a Machynlleth social enterprise, look at paintings inspired by floor tiles at the nearby Strata Florida Abbey, while in the next tent Nikko Fir sang touching songs of hope in the main Hwb marquee. You get the idea. Anyone familiar with Greenbelt would feel right at home.

Coda is a festival with a strong Welsh accent. Heard in the voices of course, with Welsh language programming forming an essential part of the mix. It’s there in the warm welcome; the celebration of Welsh culture, and (perhaps uniquely this year) the buzz of the first Welshman to win the Tour de France.

Greenbelt has often been described as a community, but really it’s a festival that a community of people visit. Coda’s taking the opposite approach, existing first as a network of people who amongst other things become visible through a bi-annual festival. The intent is evident in the byline: “get up, rise up”.

Coda 2018 was a seed. With nurture and care it’ll grow. The next festival will be in 2020, by which time the network will have spent two years working to build positive changes throughout their communities, inspired by the people they’ve met and the artistic movement they’re part of.

England has Greenbelt; Scotland has Solas (next year is the tenth!); Northern Ireland has Carafest; and now Wales has Coda.

You’re standing on a small island shared by different nations, and each has a festival of their own that celebrates art, faith and justice. Perhaps visit another?