A Big Welsh Party Is Coming To the Main Line and Philadelphia

Harriton House, Bryn Mawr

Philadelphia Welsh Week is Aug. 27-Sept. 4

Bryn Mawr, Bala Cynwyd, Narberth, Tredyffrin … Where do these names come from? Wales, specifically the Welsh Quakers who settled in what is now the Main Line. The region’s heritage will be celebrated during Philadelphia Welsh Week, Aug. 27-Sept. 4. Part of the North American Festival of Wales, the week’s events are organized by the Welsh North America Association in association with the Welsh Society of Philadelphia and the Welsh government.

Knapp Farm was settled just after 1700 by a small number of Welsh people who named the township for the Welsh county of Montgomery. 

We know what you’re thinking. Didn’t William Penn settle this area and wasn’t he English? Yes and yes. But Welsh Quakers purchased large parcels of Pennsylvania from Penn, who did have Welsh roots. Penn, of course, was also Quaker, and it was the with the goal of providing religious and cultural freedom that he sold the land to the Welsh Quakers. In fact, Penn originally wanted to call the area New Wales (like New England, New Hampshire, and the like.) But according to the Welsh Society, King Charles II insisted on the name Pennsylvania.

Of course, we can’t celebrate the region’s Welsh history without acknowledging that the land occupied by European settlers was home to Lenni Lenape tribes who lived in the Delaware Valley for thousands of years.

Founded in 1865, The Merion Cricket Club is a National Historic Landmark and is today a private members club. The club was originally located in Wynnewood on an estate owned by Colonel Owen Jones, a descendant of Welsh Quaker Robert Owen. Among the founders were J. Aubrey Jones, son of Colonel Owen Jones, and  Rowland Evans, a descendant of Cadwaladr ap Evan who emigrated from Wales to Gwynedd Township in 1698.

When the Welsh arrived, they brought customs, religion – and those unusual names. Wales has towns called Brynmawr and Narberth,, and there’s a Cynwyd rail station, too. In fact, the Main Line was originally the Welsh Tract. And, the street plan was based on the Flintshire village of Caerwys.

All of that heritage will be celebrated during Philadelphia Welsh Week. The festival includes Welsh food, drink, music, film and a marketplace. A full list of events and activities including both free and ticketed events is available at philawelshweek.org.

Philadelphia Welsh Week Highlights include:

Sat., Aug. 27

Welsh Tract Day at Fort Mifflin

Enjoy family fun at the National Historic Landmark Fort Mifflin, one of the only intact Revolutionary War battlefields and the only fort in Philadelphia. You will be greeted by friends in period costumes and a town crier will announce activities throughout the day. Take part in the scavenger hunt, taste Welsh food, have your photo taken with a Welsh dragon, and dance with the traditional Mari Lwyd group. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., 6400 Hog Island Rd, Phila.

Wed. Aug. 31

John Ieuan Jones Recital

Welsh operatic baritone John Ieuan Jones graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in 2019. Ieuan has won several awards and scholarships, including from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation. An in-demand concert singer, Ieuan has performed throughout the UK, Europe and America. 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., $50 per person, Macy’s, Greek Hall, 1300 Market St.

“Mr. Jones”

Join the Welsh Society of Philadelphia for a special free screening of “Mr. Jones.” 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Philadelphia Film Center, 1412 Chestnut St., Phila.

Thurs., Sept. 1

Young Welsh voices perform with the world-famous Wanamaker organ at Macy’s, Phila. 12 – 12:45 p.m. Free

Urdd Gobaith Cymru Centenary Concert

The North American Festival of Wales Opening Night Concert featuring the Urdd’s 100 years celebratory concert of contemporary Welsh music performed by the Urdd Gobaith Cymru youth soloists from Wales. 7:30 – 10 p.m., Kimmel Cultural Campus, Perelman Theatre, Phila. $30 per person.

Fri., Sept. 2 and Sat., Sept. 3 at 12 and 5 p.m.

Cinema Wales at The DoubleTree by Hilton, 237 S. Broad St., Phila.

Save the Cinema – Based on the true story of one woman’s fight to keep the local cinema in a small Welsh town open.

St Fagan’s National Museum of History – A documentary about the unique open-air museum in Cardiff telling the story of Wales throughout the ages.

Black and Welsh – A documentary bringing people together from across Wales to share their experiences of what it means to be black and Welsh.

Frank Lloyd Wright: The Man Who Built America – A documentary in which Welsh architect Jonathan Adams travels America exploring the work of the famous Welsh-American architect.

Sat. Sept. 3

Penderyn Masterclass

The Penderyn Master Class is an informative and light-hearted look at the Penderyn whiskies available in the US, led by Jared Card. Taste the whiskies, learn about the history of Penderyn, how their whiskies are made, their unique still, and how they are educating people all around the world about Wales and what being Welsh really means. 3:30 p.m. – 4 p.m., $30, DoubleTree by Hilton Center City, 237 S. Broad St., Phila.

Eschoir Concert

North American Festival of Wales Grand Concert with celebrated London Welsh male voice choir Eschoir. 7:30 pm – 10 p.m., Kimmel Cultural Campus, Perelman Theatre, Phila., $50 per person.

 Sun. Sept. 4

90th Annual National Gymanfa Ganu

2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m., Church of the Redeemer, 230 Pennswood Road, Bryn Mawr

This story contains content provided by The Welsh Society of Philadelphia.

Want more info about the Main Line area? Read The Insider’s Guide To Bryn Mawr, Why We Love The Wayne Farmers Market, and 7 Must-Dos in West Chester.

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