St Davids may be Britain’s smallest city, but it was the birthplace of a national patron saint and so boasts some pretty big celebrations. If you’re heading West to join in this year, here’s all you need to know!
Unlike St Patrick’s Day, St Davids Day is not a bank holiday (yet), but that doesn’t stop the Welsh from celebrating our patron saint just as enthusiastically. Here, in his birthplace, the celebrations on the first of March are very special. Overlooking the cathedral built on the site of his monastic settlement, the importance of this day is palpable.
When is St Davids Day?
It is celebrated on the 1st of March every year. This is traditionally recognised as the day that St David died, in around 589, and is now celebrated as his feast day.
Who was St David?
David was the son of St Non of Menevia (now St Davids City) and the king of the neighbouring county, Ceredigion. On the day of his birth, sometime around 462, a great storm gripped this area of Pembrokeshire, which many saw as an indication of the power of the child. He became a great teacher, a renowned preacher and founded monastic settlements in Wales, Devon and Brittany. His most famous miracle occurred while he was preaching in a large crowd in Llanddewi Brefi – the ground rose beneath him and a dove landed on his shoulder. He was officially recognised as a saint in 1120, and shortly after was recognised as the Patron Saint of Wales.
How is St Davids Day Celebrated?
Despite much lobbying, St Davids Day is not a nationally recognised holiday. However, many schools take a half day to allow for celebrations with family. More popular are parades, where children dress in traditional costumes and march through their towns, singing Welsh songs. Often, Eisteddfodau (Welsh cultural competitions) take place for school children on March the 1st.
As March the 1st is officially the feast of St David, then it’s typical to find Cawl, a Welsh stew made of lamb and vegetables, on the menu. Quite ironic as David himself was a vegetarian! We’re sure he would approve of Te Bach though, which is tea with bara brith (a traditional fruit cake made with tea and mixed spices) and pice bach, or Welsh cakes, all of which are traditionally eaten on this day.
Things to do in St Davids on St Davids Day Weekend 2024
Head to an outdoor market
This year, St Davids Day marks the first outdoor market of the year on Cross Square. Local producers and makers are there on the 1st March from 10am to 4pm, and it’s always a lovely atmosphere.
The St Davids Dragon Parade is a fantastic event for all the family. It’s being held on Saturday 2nd March so that everyone is able to take part. Join hundreds of community groups, businesses and children as they take to the streets of the ancient city of St Davids with dragons in tow! Festivities begin at 11am from Oriel Y Parc.
(Photo from Falcon Boats)
Hunt some dragons
Oriel Y Parc have a Dragon Hunt Trail on 1st March from 9.30am – 4.30pm. This is a drop in event, so no need to book! The little ones will have great fun completing challenges to find the dragon’s egg and even receive a medal!
Eat a lot of cawl
If feasting is your idea of a celebration, then why not head to the annual Cawl Competition? That’s right, from 11.30am – 1.30pm you get to turn up at St Davids City Hall, taste bowls of delicious traditional broth made by various businesses and individuals around St Davids, and help judge the winner of the coveted Golden Ladle! What’s not to love?!
Visit St Davids Cathedral and St Nons Chapel
As well as popping in to St Davids Cathedral, a walk out to St Non’s is well worth it, especially over this special weekend. A chapel was built on the spot where St David was born and is named after his mother. The ruined chapel and well of St Non can still be visited and there is now also a retreat and modern chapel on this site. They all sit on a beautiful, wild, coastal spot on the coast path on the outskirts of the city.
The Bishops Palace, also reopens on the 1st March. This is the perfect opportunity to take in all three historic landmarks!
Attend a concert at the cathedral
One of the best ways to experience St Davids Cathedral is when it’s filled with music. On the evening of 2nd March, the Cathedral will play host to the Band of the Prince of Wales, for a rousing evening of music. Tickets are free to reserve and they ask for a donation towards the Army Benevolent Fund.
Enjoy a Welshcake (or two!)
There are many gorgeous cafes in and around St Davids. So why not visit the cathedral, and then pop into one of the local eateries for a Welsh cake? The Refectory at the Cathedral itself has recently become home to the beloved Mamgu Welshcakes, and a visit is simply a must.