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. Now, 7 years later, Sŵn has grown into a four-day affair, with 200 artists gracing all kinds of venues and with all kinds of other cultural delight on offer – DJs, exhibitions, film screenings, quizzes, Music Industry sessions, outdoor performances and more adding to an always stellar musical line-up.
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 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 October in the extended festival season and with over 5,000 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 most recent edition in 2013.
This year, having grown to such a size that we’re now too big to be run by our small team of part-time freelancers, but also energised by the return of our festival co-founder John Rostron who has won grant support from a Paul Hamlyn Breakthrough Award to leave his job and work on Sŵn full-time, we take something of a breather. It’s our opportunity to look ahead and re-imagine the future of Sŵn in Wales today, buoyed by the success of previous events, and the huge support and love we feel from the bands and people who attend each year. Whilst we are gutted that we’ve simply not had the time to put together Sŵn this year, we are delighted that we’re not leaving October empty. We’ve bought together a one-day version of Sŵn on Sat 18th October, which we’re calling DimSŵn. A full day and night of music with, when we’re all done, around 50 bands playing. Yes, tickets will be limited to just 500 on sale, so some people will be disappointed, but we hope you’ll be excited by a packed day at DimSŵn and what the future holds for Sŵn as we embark on this next chapter.