Swn Festival began in 2007, co-founded by Huw Stephens and John Rostron, after a revelatory trip to the world’s largest music showcase festival that is SXSW (South By South West) in Austin, Texas. Seeing the plethora of up and coming venues, promoters, and of course a thriving local bands scene, they returned with the idea of putting on their own, smaller, version in their homeland of Cardiff. That November they put on 100 bands across the city, with the then unknown Yeasayer, DJ Annie Mac and the brilliant Beirut being just some of the names performing over a chilly 3 day weekend across Cardiff’s lovely city centre.
Gaze wistfully into our past, and you will see standout performances from Los Campesinos! at an old Church, Islet throbbing the walls of a city centre pub and two riproaringly rattling performances from The Cribs in both 2007 & 2012. We’re proud to know that now big-billed acts such as The Vaccines, Alt J, The Drums, Ben Howard, Foxes, Wolf Alice, Drenge and Disclosure have all been seen in their raw state at Sŵn before going on to much, much bigger things, and we promise you’ll always find plenty of similar undiscovered gems as you meander between the gigs. Now a staple in the calendar, with a few thousand festival-goers mixing in with the loquacious throng of Cardiff’s weekend nightlife, Sŵn has become a signature event for Wales and for its capital city of Cardiff, winning NME Best Small Festival for our edition in 2013 and getting nominated again in 2015.
In 2014, having grown to such a size that we were now too big to be run by our small team of part-time freelancers, we took something of a breather, and piloted a one-day version of Sŵn we called DimSŵn. A full day and night of music with over 50 bands playing. DimSŵn was well received, enormous fun and it sold out in advance too, giving us the inspiration and space we needed to re-imagine Sŵn for Wales today.
DimSŵn was so good we didn’t want to let it go, and it inspired us create the new DimSŵn Festival which we debuted in April 2015. A Spring one-dayer which was so good, it’s now become an annual event in Cardiff. This year’s event took place on Saturday April 9th and was an awesome new music celebration – smaller but by no means weaker than its big brother – Sŵn Festival. After taking a year off in 2014, we weren’t sure what to expect coming back in 2015 but we had the BEST TIME and you lot seemed just as chuffed. We think it was one of the strongest events in our history and we’re back this autumn, bigger and better than ever before. It’s our 10th anniversary and we’ve got loads of other stuff planned throughout the next 12 months, so I hope you join us again to celebrate.
Here’s to new music, sweaty little venues and a glorious year ahead.