As the biggest event since its inception in 2018, the festival successfully raised over £5,000 for the Sophie Williams Trust, showcasing the power of community collaboration.
The festival commenced with a focus on wellbeing with both a chi gong and yoga class, followed with an array of offerings including somatic work with Lawrence Toye, a mother’s story and song session with doula Laura of Birthing Mamams, self-massage techniques with Kyezha the Movement Mentor, tai chi with Lydia, women’s circle, kirtan, soundbaths and a pop-up Indian head massage space with Cheymoon O’Reilly. These experiences were held in the wellbeing meadows, nestled at the edge of the woodland.
The day was host to a range of stalls from the local community among them North Wales Wildlife Trust, Tyddyn Teg, Croeso Menai Beeswax Fabric Wraps and Ynys Twca Business, Bangor Forest Garden, North Wales Climate Action, Spirit of the Hedgrider, Menter Pandy. With a strong emphasis on families, Draig Beats was supported by Wild Elements Forest School, Circus performances from Syrcas Chimera CBC, Paula Pretzel and Freya Beath.
Music weaved the event together, with two stages celebrating the best of local talent including Sue Denim, Jodie Melodie, Jochen Eisentraut Trio and Martin Daws. The Big Purple Top featured The Band, Y Braichmelyn Ceilidh Band and belly dancers, while headliners Drymbago and Banda Bacana concluded the day with captivating performances.
Continuing its commitment to inclusivity, Draig Beats once again partnered with Croeso Menai to provide free admission to refugees, enabling them to connect and celebrate their heritage through art, food, dance and music.
The festival is run entirely by volunteers – a core group of dedicated organisers, and a call out to the community who really rallied and made a huge commitment before, during and after. As ever, we were supported by a group of fantastic student volunteers from all Colleges, who committed their post-exam downtime to our festival efforts: decorating the site, erecting structures and stewarding and traffic marshalling on the day. This is invaluable work experience, and a fantastic opportunity to network and create lasting relationships.
The festival is also a celebration of the generosity and expertise at Bangor University. Our Estates Management and wider Campus Services teams supported us with security, electrics and waste management and our academic colleagues and friends of Sophie rallied together to form a fantastic minibus team who delivered everyone safely to and from the event.
Iwan Williams, Senior Civic Mission Officer, said, “It was a superb festival with something for everyone. There were plenty of activities, workshops, stalls, entertainment and refreshments on offer, and a fantastic, relaxed atmosphere on a perfect summer’s day. Draig Beats is a significant and important contribution to the University’s Civic Mission.”
Sarah Edgar, Sophie Williams Trustee and Chair of the Friends of Treborth, said, “The Sophie Williams Trust is extremely grateful for the money raised by the Draig Beats festivals over the years. We have been able to buy equipment for Sophie to help with some of the care and accessibility needs for her complex disabilities and have also paid for preparatory work to enable Sophie to return home to her community in the future. The success of this year’s Draig Beats will further help these objectives.
“One of the aims of the Friends of Treborth Botanic Garden is to connect the Garden with the local community, to show people the beauties of the Garden and invite them to enjoy and learn about the natural environment. This is very much the ethos of Draig Beats as well, and we were delighted to see so many happy people enjoying the wonderful atmosphere in the Garden.”
This festival was originally established to support Dr Sophie Williams, Honorary Lecturer for Plant Conservation at the School of Natural Sciences, and it has blossomed and developed into an important part of the North Wales community calendar. Draig Beats has the capacity to become a Not-For-Profit organisation with lots of smaller branches of events, workshops, focus groups. It is a unique combination of nature, art and science with an enormous potential.
Draig Beats is five next year so watch this space for our half-decade celebrations!