Wales’ only youth-led festival takes centre stage in Cardifflogo-1

RawFfest 25 – 28 April 2019

Created in 2016, RawFfest is a 4-day youth arts festival for Wales taking place in Wales Millennium Centre from 25 April – 28 April 2019. A fun and innovative festival, RawFfest is planned and programmed by young people for young people and offers an experience of the arts in its richest and rawest form.

The aim of the festival is to promote and support work from young artists and performers aged 14 to 25 by showcasing the best of youth arts today whilst providing pathways for young participants to develop. This includes involving young people from ethnic minorities, young people with disabilities, and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. RawFfest’s programme includes performances and workshops of fashion, photography, circus, street dance, rap, music, poetry slams, TV, radio, film, comics, theatre and a whole lot more.

All performances and exhibitions taking place at RawFfest will be by young people (aged 14 – 25), with many masterclasses and workshops led by experts, emerging artists and some by young people themselves.

The festival is programmed by ‘PlaceMakers’, a team made up of a dozen diverse young people from a broad range of backgrounds who curate, plan, produce, event manage, fundraise, budget and market the festival each year. One of the festival’s goals is to empower young people by giving them a voice. It allows them to build on their self-confidence as well as leadership skills. It empowers young people and gives them a feeling that they are being heard, whatever their age or abilities. The opportunities and challenges the PlaceMakers face as part of creating a festival is an chance to build their skills in a positive collaborative environment.

Guiding the PlaceMakers is RawFfest’s Director, Ruth Garnault who said “The festival celebrates the amazing creativity of young people in Wales today. We are delighted to be presenting such a wide range of exciting activity. What makes RawFfest unique as a national festival is that young people are in the driving seat. For Wales to thrive, we think it’s important that young people’s voices are heard.”

The festival is training the next generation of arts leaders. Gweni Llwyd, who is a PlaceMaker and Visual Art Co-ordinator Intern with the festival said “Working with the festival has provided a fantastic opportunity for me to develop the skills and confidence needed to get a foot on the arts career ladder. It’s also been a great way to meet and get to know like-minded, brilliantly creative and inspirational people! It’s so important that the festival is youth-led as it gives young people a voice, allowing us to speak about the issues that young people are facing now, and how the arts can help. This has empowered me to feel that what I’m doing is important and that I can make a difference to the arts in Wales and further afield.”

The festival grew from a youth arts conference which resulted in young people expressing the need for an arts festival to champion the work of their generation. In 2016 RawFfest was born with an inaugural festival in Newport, South Wales. The festival then travelled to Venue Cymru Llandudno in 2017.

This year RawFfest, which will take place on 25 – 28 April 2019, will visit the Welsh capital for the first time.

Tickets for RawFfest are now on sale.  Tickets cost £5 for the day, £10 for the day and evening, plus some weekend tickets at £20. Although RawFfest is aimed at young people, 14 – 25 years, it welcomes audience members of all ages through its doors throughout the long weekend.

Festival Highlights

The festival will open on Thursday 25th April with three exciting events:

Pulse is a high energy gala of some of the best youth dance companies including Shelley Norton Dance School, Fusions Elite Motion Control Dance and Jukebox Academy.

Whilst No Fit State’s Youth Circus bring their most promising young talent to perform Circus Mundi to celebrate the 250th anniversary of circus.

This will be followed by Entrée, a magical new clowning show by the amazing Jose Pedro.

All forms of music will feature throughout the festival weekend.  On Friday 26th April for the first time ever in UK Hip Hop history, an all-female line up has united for a tour called Queens of Art.  Curated by UK rapper Shay D, the tour presents Shay D’s new music, alongside a programme of high quality, handpicked female artists including DJ Ellie Prohan, Truemendous and Cardiff’s own Ladies of Rage.

Saturday 27 April will see a night dedicated to some of Wales’ most exciting new bands. The Pitchforks, who are set for big things throughout 2019 have already become a favourite of Radio 1 DJ, Huw Stephens.   Whilst Al Moses stirs up a frenzy following their debut single when ‘I Want More’ received national UK airplay. They are supported by Young Garbo, who are “about to make the Welsh valleys hipster central.”

The Glanfa Stage at Wales Millennium Centre will be rocking with performances throughout the festival including Paracetamol and Aerobic from Galeri, Caernarfon and the Voices from Care Choir.

Operasonic will return to the 2019 festival. Composed in just one day with our words and ideas, professional opera singers will present an instant opera.

For young people wanting a career in music there will be lots of workshops including Richard Samuel and Connor Cupples, Directors of Orchard Live giving the insider knowledge about promoting in Wales.

Eleven Welsh theatre companies will perform as part of the festival proving that theatre is thriving in Wales. Included in the line-up are: Aberystwyth Arts Centre Youth Theatre, Cwmni Ennyn Awaken Productions, Fio: Futures, Found in the Forest, Media Academy In the Bay, Mess Up the Mess, Narberth Youth Theatre, Performance Platfform, Spectacle Youth Theatre, Hijinx’s Telemachus, and Volcano Youth Theatre. The themes explored range from growing up as a rural teen, life without technology and the pressures of social media, to our sense of belonging to Wales.

For adventurous poets RawFfest presents a Poetry Slam. Poetry Slams are a revolution in performance poetry. Hosted by Natasha Borton of Voice Box, up to 10 poets can sign up to compete, duelling with words until one emerges the winner.

The RawFfest Poets Society will present the work of some of Wales’s brightest and boldest poets including Alice Swatridge and Chloe Wilson from North West Wales.

Jake Evans returns to the festival for a second time with a storytelling performance and a workshop for anyone who wants to learn about this ancient art.

Jannat Ahmed will lead a workshop on self-publishing across print, websites, blogging and podcasts – continuing her work to make people’s dreams come true.

For young people interested in comic booksRawFfest offers two workshops – one led by certified comic book obsessive Edward Lee, looking at format, technique and style. A second workshop will look at visuals and illustration.

On Saturday, the festival host The R.A.F.T.A’s – The RawFfest Academy of Film and Tea-Making Awards which will showcase exciting short films, including an industry Q & A. For those feeling a little more active, there will be a workshop hosted by Flashing Blades – a stunt and combat team for film and television, learning how to stage-fight safely.

RawFfest are delighted that Radio Platfform will be broadcasting throughout the festival, with playlists featuring work by some of our performers, interviews and news updates. Plus an opportunity to attend a workshop where young people make their own short radio demo.

The festival weekend ends on Sunday 28th April with a number of great events and workshops. Hijinx’s Telemachus group will entertain attendees with a witty promenade performance. NoFitState Youth Circuswill entertain the crowds outside Wales Millennium Centre. Whilst for those with an eye for fashion can watch the RawFfest Fashion Show which will present garments made by emerging young fashion designers.

The final performance of the weekend, on Sunday afternoon 28 April, will be by the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Wales, with some of Wales’s most talented and gifted young musicians.

To see RawFfest’s full line and for ticket information, visit

” With the support from RawFfest I’ve been able to graduate from university with a first….RawFfest has been really important in raising my confidence and I know now that I can speak up and make things happen.“Hear Tara’s story here

“Drawing helped me to communicate when I didn’t have the words. Once, I drew a monster to show my sister why I was struggling and afterwards, I felt a sense of peace that I was able to compress everything I was fighting into a drawing.” ‘How art has helped me feel again’ – Meha’s Youth Arts Story