St Davids Day Weekend in St Davids
Celebrate 1st March in the very city where Saint David once walked
In 2020, the calendar could not have fallen better for St Davids Day celebrations in St Davids. A Leap Year gave us an extra day of February, pushing the first day of March onto a Sunday and the weather was windy but dry and sunny for the most part. Living just minutes from the smallest city in Britain and with lots going on, the opportunity to spend St Davids Day weekend in the home of Saint David was too good to pass by.
St Davids Annual Dragon Parade
Bright and early Saturday morning, smiling crowds gathered to line the streets of this Welsh city in eager anticipation of one of the most beloved St Davids Day events in the county. Community spirit was high with a mixture of locals and holidaymakers all waiting patiently along the sunny High Street for the procession to begin.
Cross Square is possibly the best viewing spot, as you’ll get to see the parade walk right the way around the square meaning lots of photo opportunities. Led by a local marching band and the current Mayor of St Davids, the procession is made up of school and community groups. Expect to see a mixture of children, teachers and adults throughout – many of whom delight with fancy dress! All are sporting handmade dragons in varying sizes. The theme for 2020 was Black and Yellow, in keeping with the colours on the flag of St Davids.
The parade follows a short route from Oriel Y Parc Visitor Centre and Café along the main High Street down to the Cross Square before returning to the starting point. The road is closed making it a safe event for all.
In the 6th Century, Saint David himself established a monastery on the site of the current Cathedral. Pay a visit on March 1st and you will no doubt be met with flowerbeds bursting with golden yellow creating a perfect Welsh atmosphere against the bright blue skies overhead.
The tranquil grounds of the Cathedral were sprinkled with athletes in fluorescent training gear on the 29th February as they passed through on the Ras Dewi Sant Marathon. This is a Coastal Path course starting in St Nicholas following the North Western coastline through Abereiddy, Whitesands, St Nons and directly through the Cathedral grounds up the steps to finish at Cross Square. For athletes wanting to experience a truly Welsh event, this is the one – you’ll even be spoilt with a bowl of Cawl en route!
On St Davids Day itself, the Cathedral hosts Choral Prayers and a Choral Eucharist in honour of our Patron Saint of Wales. Walk through the serene Cathedral to the Treasury and The Library, make sure to pay a visit to the shrine of Saint David whilst you are here. During your visit, you might even hear the bell ringing from the bell tower at the top of the steps.
A particularly popular annual event for St Davids Day is the pilgrimage to St Davids Cathedral from St Nons, the birthplace of Saint David. It is well known that two pilgrimages to St Davids Cathedral are equivalent to one pilgrimage to Rome, so each year the Cathedral hosts an Annual Pilgrims Walk. Starting at St Nons, the pilgrims follow the Bishop of St Davids in the short walk into the city and down to the Cathedral.
Where better to celebrate St Davids Day than at St Davids Cathedral?
In honour of St Davids Day, CADW offers free entry to select CADW heritage sites on March 1st only, including the Bishop’s Palace in St Davids. Take the children along or enjoy a solo stroll through the grounds, St Davids Bishops Palace is a wonderful place to waste a few hours in this charming city.
Originally transformed into a magnificent palace in the 14th Century, the Bishop’s Palace is nestled in the valley alongside the impressive St Davids Cathedral and is well worth a visit. Discover the intricate architecture of the building, how the servants worked and how the bishops lived. Many of the rooms are set up with information boards and some even have additional audio services describing how the rooms may have looked or what they were used for. Take a look at the miniature model of the rooms and see drawings of what the Bishop’s Palace may have looked like once.
Take a seat on the benches around the grounds or head to the garden overlooking the Cathedral where you will find picnic tables decorated with games such as snakes and ladders. Browse the gift shop and purchase souvenirs such as Welsh recipe books, Welsh cake scented candles and Celtic jewellery.
Tickets are still required despite the free entry and can be purchased in advance online or at the gate. The St Davids Bishop’s Palace is child-friendly and dogs are welcomed provided they are kept on leads.
Set on the outskirts of St Davids in a wonderful coastal location, St Non’s is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of the Patron Saint of Wales. The legend goes that Saint Non was all alone in a house atop the cliff when she gave birth to David during an almighty storm.
You’ll find a ruined building in a field overlooking the sea which is the alleged site of David’s birth. As you walk to the ruins from the car park, you’ll pass the Holy Well. It is said that Non grasped a rock during the birth and at this point, a holy well miraculously sprung from the ground.
Hidden from initial view behind what is now a Retreat, you will find the Chapel of Our Lady and St Non. A tiny but beautiful chapel, this building is decorated with stained glass windows depicting well-known local saints such as Non, David. Brynach and Winifred. Inside you will find information about the chapel and saints, as well as information on where certain parts of the building were sourced.
Walk the streets of St Davids City
One of the most lovely things to do during St Davids Day is simply walk through the streets of this picturesque city. You’ll see shop windows decorated with bundles and bundles of daffodils, red dragons, leeks and an abundance of Welsh flags.
Call into most of the independent grocery stores or local gift shops and you’re likely to find daffodils for sale. Call into the pubs for a hearty bowl of cawl or a Welsh lamb roast dinner, tuck into a cuppa and a Welsh cake or a slice of Bara Brith.