With a variety of music venues and events throughout the year, Pembrokeshire has a living culture of music that finds many forms. From rock and folk music in local cafes and pubs, to stirring performances by voice choirs and some wonderful Welsh music festivals, there is something to suit every listener. Here are some of the best events each year (including Tenby Blues Festival, this month from Friday 13th Nov!) along with the best places to hear live music in Tenby.
Cafes and Pubs in Tenby for Live Gigs
While you won’t find huge venues and acts, there is an intimate, friendly and authentic music scene in Tenby. Several venues put on regular gigs featuring the best of local musicians and some special guests. Rock and folk are perhaps the most popular styles, but you’ll also find blues, jazz and other genres, including some top tribute acts.
As for venues, perhaps the most cultured of the crop is Caffé Vista (Crackwell St). From spoken word evenings to brilliant live folk and jazz, they organise an eclectic mix of entertainment. Add fine harbour views, top notch food and coffee and you have a great little venue (their Facebook Page has news and events).
Further into the town, several of the Tenby pubs are also regular music venues. The Crown (Lower Frog Street), for example, is a cracking old school pub that hosts live gigs and performances. Each week you can also hear the ivories of the pub’s own piano being well rattled with blues and honky-tonk sounds (how often do you hear that in a pub these days?).
The Lifeboat Tavern is another highlight, with regular Tuesday gigs, but also some nicely laid back acoustic sessions that are perfect for a Sunday pint. Meanwhile, The Three Mariners, The Galloping Major and others have regular gigs and a lively atmosphere if your idea of a great evening out is more along the lines of real ale and rock. All of these venues and more also form the stage for the next highlight on our list.
Tenby Blues Festival (Fri 13th to Sun 15th November)
As the nights draw in every autumn, Tenby is invaded by a whole troupe of great blues bands and musicians. 2015 is no different with acts such as Blues Train, The Mustangs, Hideaway Trio and talented local twosome Ella Guru all set to strum and strut their way across a hugely enjoyable weekend of music. With sounds from prohibition era music to the electric blues of Hendrix, there is variety as well as grit and soul, and we also like the fact that, rather appropriately for a blues event, this year's show starts on Friday the 13th! For all listings and a complete guide to times, ticket prices, band lineup and venues, see http://tenbyblues.co.uk.
Traditional Welsh Songs, Classical Music and Voice Choirs
For those who come to Wales hoping to hear the powerful sound of a real voice choir, or the sound of choral, classical and more traditional music, there are also possibilities in the area. The stirring harmonies of Tenby Male Voice Choir are a delightful experience in concert, with the group holding various performances each year (see their site http://www.tenbymalechoir.org for listings). Little beats hearing them in a setting such as Tenby’s St Mary’s Church, which is not only the biggest parish church in Wales but a place with beautiful acoustics. It is also a good place to find classical music and choral music performances (this autumn, for example, features a rendition of Handel’s Messiah on 28th November 2015).
Music Festivals in Pembrokeshire
Besides one off concerts and gigs, other annual highlights include some fantastic musical events in South West Wales. These range from big outdoor concerts to special summer weekends- and quite a few events a near Tenby or within a modest drive. A few to look out for include:
Narbeth Accapella Festival (February) is an uplifting celebration of the human voice, unaccompanied. With choirs and groups from far and wide, performances and workshops galore, this is a unique event. See the official site for dates and full event details:/navf.co.uk
St. David’s Folk Festival (July)has been running for three years now and is a feast of Celtic inspired music held at St. David’s Cathedral. One to watch for all folk fans and also an ideal day out for families. For current news and more, see: www.stdavidsfolkfestival.co.uk
Fishguard Festivals (May to August): Not content with just the occasional musical curtain-raiser, the town of Fishguard hosts three cracking events each year. Fishguard Folk Festival (May 27-30 for 2016) is the first, bringing together a rich variety of folk from old favourites to new innovators. Fishguard International Festival follows later in the summer and is one of the best music festivals in Wales, with inspiring classical music performances and great musicians from across the globe (more details here: www.fishguardmusicfestival.co.uk). Last but not least, The Aber Jazz Festival (August) has a similarly international lineup with stellar talents and some genuine surprises every year (see the official site: www.aberjazz.com)
Penally Abbey: One of the most beautiful places to stay in Pembrokeshire
With elegant, spacious rooms, amazing food and idyllic, historic grounds, Penally Abbey is a fantastic place to enjoy relaxing short breaks in West Wales. Based in a peaceful rural setting, but also close to Tenby, you have the perfect combination of culture and relaxation. Find out more on our main site, including our current events and offers: http://www.penally-abbey.com