Dylan Thomas centenary events

This year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas. Read through our comprehensive guide to the events taking place to mark the occasion.

RL Dylan Thomas stamp 400
Credit: Royal Mail

Dylan Thomas is regarded by many as Wales’ finest ever poet and this year his admirers will flock to his homeland to attend some of the many Dylan Thomas 100 festivities. The celebrations are a tribute to a literary visionary and go some way to cementing his global reputation. Thomas was an unusual hero: short, curly-haired, tubby, often wearing second-hand suits and very often drunk. Perhaps the biggest criticism levelled at Thomas, however, was linguistic; he was deemed too English to be Welsh and too Welsh to be English. Yet the genius poet took much inspiration from his homeland, including Laugharne, home to his boathouse and writing shed. Thomas wrote much of his famous radio play Under Milk Wood here taking inspiration from the town and townsfolk.

Born in Swansea in 1914, Dylan Thomas left school at 16 to pursue a career as a reporter. It was around this time that he began to fill notebooks with his early poems, some of which would be published as 18 Poems in 1934. He soon turned to poetry full-time, refusing to align himself to a particular literary movement. He married Caitlin Macnamara in 1937 and the couple had two sons and a daughter. The upcoming events are therefore a celebration of all that Thomas was: maverick poet, family man and inspiration for a generation of artists from his homeland and abroad.

12 Apr – 08 Jun 2014
Art Across The City 2014, International Contemporary Public Art Festival
Dylan Thomas 100 Tawe Mega Poem, Swansea, artacrossthecity.com
25 artists’ permanent and temporary public art commissions on display across Swansea, including that of spoken word poet John Cooper Clarke.

May – Nov 2014
A Dylan Odyssey, Literature Wales, literaturewales.org
Guided by some of Wales’ best writers and artists, you can travel by boat up the Taf estuary at sunset with Guy Masterton, the actor and nephew of Richard Burton; punt along the Cherwell in Oxford, where Thomas spent time writing, with novelist, poet and dramatist Owen Sheers; see the cinemas that Thomas frequented with author and scriptwriter Andrew Davies, ride a horse-drawn carriage to Fern Hill with National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke, and retrace Dylan’s steps in Fitrovia with comedian Griff Rhys Jones.

02 – 05 May 2014
Dylan Thomas Poetry, Biography and Film Weekend, Laugharne Literature Festival, thelaugharneweekend.com
Weekend features performances around Laugharne by leading poets. Includes A Handful of Rain; a play about an imaginary meeting between Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village. Also featuring National Theatre Wales’ Raw Material: Llareggub Revisited (3-5 May), which will see a re-imagining of the world of Under Milk Wood around Laugharne, including a live broadcast collaboration with BBC Cymru Wales.

07 – 10 May 2014
Lleisiau / Voices Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff – Good Cop Bad Cop
chapter.org/lleisiau / gcbccentral.com
Performers recruited from across Wales by open audition, chosen for the way they use voice distinctively in their daily lives, will contribute to an informal and experimental evening of live entertainment.

09 – 10 May 2014
Under Milk Wood Days, Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, dylanthomas.com
Two days of activities relating to Dylan Thomas’s famous play first staged in New York in May 1953, which will include a Twitter exchange between characters from the play and a showing of Under the Cranes, a film inspired by Under Milk Wood.

12 – 17 May 2014
Caitlin, Swansea Grand Theatre, swanseagrand.co.uk
Swansea actress Helen Griffin plays Caitlin Macnamara, Dylan Thomas’s wife, in a one-woman show that discovers what brought her and Dylan Thomas together and eventually tore them apart.

24 – 26 May 2014
Dylan Thomas Festival of Walks, Llanelli, llanelliramblers.org.uk
Walk distances ranging from two to 12 miles visiting famed Dylan hotspots such as Laugharne.

31 May – 01 Jun 2014
Return Journey Promenade Performance (1st & 2nd of eight tours) National Waterfront Museum, Swansea to Cwmdonkin Park, 10:30am, dylanthomas.com
Lighthouse Theatre Co and the Dylan Thomas Centre present a promenade performance of Dylan Thomas’s famous broadcast Return Journey bringing it to life on the streets of Swansea.

31 May – 31 Aug 2014
Dylan Thomas Notebooks Exhibition, Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, dylanthomas.com
This exhibition comprises the four poetry notebooks written between 1930 and 1934, and the Red Prose Notebook that also dates from this time, accompanied by supporting material such as extracts from letters which refer to the poems and the processes involved in their writing.

14 Jun 2014
Under Milk Wood Classic Vehicle Run, ntfwswansea.co.uk
Historic motorcycles, cars, vans, trucks, coaches and busses take the annual outing to Laugharne prior to the 21st Swansea Festival of Transport in Swansea City Centre on Sunday 15 June.

28 Jun 2014
The Dylanathon, Dylan Thomas Birthplace, Swansea, dylanathon.com
Anyone with a digital camera, smartphone or tablet can take part in this photography competition with a twist. Entrants take one photo of each of ten Thomas-related subjects over an eight hour period. Prizes are on offer and an exhibition will follow.

28 Jun – 20 Dec 2014
Dylan, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, dylanthomas100.org / llgc.org.uk
Bracelet Bay to Laugharne, ntfwswansea.co.uk
A major multimedia exhibition of Thomas’s personal items as well as partnerships with local dancers and poets, will give a fresh perspective on Thomas’s prose and poetry, on the Laugharne Boathouse and Caitlin Thomas.

05 – 06 Jul 2014
Return Journey Promenade Performance (3rd & 4th of eight tours), National Waterfront Museum, Swansea to Cwmdonkin Park, dylanthomas.com

10 Jul 2014
Stan Tracey’s Under Milk Wood, Jazz Suite, Reynoldstone Village Hall, dtjazz.co.uk
DT Jazz and the Gower Festival present a performance of Stan Tracey’s iconic jazz masterpiece which was inspired by Dylan Thomas’s play for voices.

18 – 20 Jul 2014
Bilingual Literature Festival, Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, dylanthomas.com
A weekend celebration of bilingual literature and exciting events curated by Menna Elfyn, one of the most significant poets writing in Wales today and the author of over 20 books.

03 – 04 Aug 2014
Return Journey Promenade, Performance (5th and 6th of eight tours) National Waterfront Museum, Swansea to Cwmdonkin Park, dylanthomas.com

Aug – Sept 2014
Bedazzled – A Welshman in New York, Ffotogallery – Cardiff, Swansea, New Quay, 
Bedazzled celebrates the special relationship Dylan Thomas had with the United States and New York in particular, with his influence felt on both sides of the Atlantic. Audience members are transported back to the bohemian world of Greenwich Village in the early 1950s where Dylan Thomas’s charm and lyrical wordplay won him an army of fans.

03 – 05 Sept 2014
Dylan Unchained: The Dylan Thomas Centenary Conference, 1914 – 2014, Swansea University & Taliesin Arts Centre, swansea.ac.uk/dylanthomas
Lectures on the work and influence of Dylan Thomas from leading critics including a reading of work by contemporary poets, a play written by David Britton, the launch of the new Complete Poems of Dylan Thomas, plus exhibitions, workshops, tours and evening performances.

05 Sept – 24 Dec 2014
Dylan Thomas Manuscripts Exhibition, Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, dylanthomas.com
This exhibition comprises manuscripts of poems, a list of rhyming words and a series of rare black and white photographs of Dylan Thomas dating between the 1930s and the early 50s.

06 – 07 Sept 2014
Return Journey Promenade Performance (7th of eight tours), National Waterfront Museum, Swansea to Cwmdonkin Park, dylanthomas.com

Sept – Oct 2014
Adventures in the Skin Trade, Theatr Iolo, dylanthomas100.org / theatriolo.com
Dylan Thomas’s surreal coming-of-age and unfinished novel is given new life by acclaimed writer Lucy Gough (Creative Wales Award winner) in a new production.

02 Oct 2014
Dylan Thomas National Poetry Day Event, Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, dylanthomas.com
A special celebration of poetry from Swansea for National Poetry Day.

04 – 18 Oct 2014
The Dylan Thomas 100 Trilogy Project, Swansea Festival of Music & the Arts, swanseafestival.org
Staged in a variety of venues across Swansea, three events take place featuring the Russian State Philharmonic orchestra, Welsh national opera, the Philharmonia orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales.

24 – 26 Oct 2014
Do Not Go Gentle Festival, Dylan Thomas Birthplace, The Garage, Mozart’s, The Chattery, St. James Social Club, Noah’s Yard, donotgogentlefestival.com
A festival including music, literature, comedy and film.

25 – 30 Oct 2014
My Friend Dylan Thomas, Bangor University School of Music, bangor.ac.uk/music pontio.co.uk
Lifelong friend of Thomas and collaborator Daniel Jones, composer to the original music to Under Milk Wood, had a significant impact on Welsh culture until his death in 1993. Here Jones’s music provides the focus for a six-day celebration of Dylan Thomas, including choral arrangements of his poems.

25 – 30 Oct 2014
Dylan Thomas Festival, Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, dylanthomas.com
The 17th annual Dylan Thomas Festival will feature an eclectic mixture of events and special guests. It will also include a weekend festival focusing on war poetry.

04 – 08 Nov 2014
A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Wales Theatre Company & Swansea Grand Theatre, childschristmasinwales.co.uk / swanseagrand.co.uk
Michael Bogdanov’s production of one of Dylan Thomas’s childhood memories of Christmas which has become a firm favourite for generations of children in Wales.

05 – 06 Nov 2014
Public Symposium, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, llgc.org.uk
A public symposium, held at the Library on 5-6 December 2014, will include a showing of Andrew Sinclair’s 1972 film adaption of Under Milk Wood as well as a number of guest speakers lecturing on a range of topics themed around the study of Dylan Thomas and his work.

For more information on the Dylan Thomas centenary events, visit dylanthomas100.org

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