On Thursday May 14th we will be celebrating International Dylan Thomas Day, an annual day to celebrate the life and work of the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, on the anniversary of the first stage production of his classic play for voices Under Milk Wood, that took place in New York in 1953.
For the past five years since the day was inaugurated in 2015 we’ve seen some wonderful events and celebrations to mark the day, and we hope this year will be the same. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic physical events won’t be taking place this year of course, but we’ve made this list with a few ideas about how we can celebrate Dylan Thomas.
1. Watch the International Dylan Thomas Prize Award Ceremony
The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards for young people, and this year’s winner will be announced at an online ceremony on May 14th. Click here to find out more.
2. Join an Online Event
Check on our Events page for other online events on the day, such as the Leeds Library Zoom event, or the London Welsh Centre’s Dylan Day Project.
3. Enter the Dylan Thomas at Home photography competition
Combine your love of Dylan Thomas with your photography skills and enter the ‘Dylan Thomas at Home’ photography competition. See the poster for details, or click here to download a pdf.
4. Read some of Dylan’s work
It couldn’t be easier, pick up a book and read some of Dylan’s work. His poetry is great to read aloud, you could even record yourself reading it and share it on social media. Explore the short stories in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, or discover some of his broadcasts in the Dylan Thomas Omnibus. It would be fitting to read some Under Milk Wood on the anniversary of its first stage production, so why not ‘begin at the beginning’.
5. Explore the Discover Dylan Thomas website
The Discover Dylan Thomas website is the official website approved by the family of Dylan Thomas, and by the trustees of his estate. There is a huge amount of information about the life, work, and legacy of Dylan Thomas to explore there.
6. Write a poem or story inspired by Dylan Thomas
In 1953 Dylan told the cast of Under Milk Wood to ‘love the words’, so how about writing something of your own inspired by Dylan Thomas? Have fun with words and share them with us if you’d like to.
7. Create a Dylan Thomas inspired artwork
Many artists have been inspired by the words of Dylan Thomas. Sir Peter Blake has illustrated every scene from Under Milk Wood, and Welsh great Ceri Richards was inspired by Dylan’s poetry. Let your imagination run wild and create an artwork inspired by Dylan. If you’d like to share it, post a picture on social media with the #dylanday hashtag and we’ll share it.
8. Explore the National Library of Wales’ online Dylan exhibition
Explore one of the greatest collections of Dylan Thomas material at the National Library of Wales’s Dylan exhibition.
9. Watch a Dylan Thomas inspired film
A number of movies about Dylan Thomas or based on his work are available on DVD, or might be available to download or stream. From the 1971 big screen adaptation of Under Milk Wood starring Richard Burton, through the more recent fictionalised accounts of Dylan’s life Edge of Love starring Matthew Rhys and Set Fire To The Stars staring Celyn Jones and Elijah Wood, to the recent bawdy adaptation of Under Milk Wood directed in English and Welsh by Kevin Allen.
10. Listen to Dylan Thomas performing in Under Milk Wood at the 92Y in New York
It’s hard to imagine a more poignant way to celebrate Dylan Day that to hear the great man taking part in the first of his legendary stage performances of Under Milk Wood at the 92Y Poetry Center in New York. The 92Y has kindly made the recording available for International Dylan Thomas Day. Click here to listen.
11. Share a quotation from Dylan Thomas on social media
Share your love of Dylan Thomas by sharing a quote on social media. Help us to share your post by using the hashtag #DylanDay
12. Raise a toast to Dylan Thomas
Whether it’s a cup of tea or your favourite tipple, why not raise a toast to the great Welsh bard in celebration of International Dylan Thomas Day.
13. Explore the BBC’s Dylan Thomas resources
Dylan Thomas was a regular performer for BBC radio and the legacy is a treasure trove of recordings and educational material that can be explored. Click here to discover.
14. Search the Dylan Thomas Centre’s collection
Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Centre houses an important collection of Dylan Thomas material. Although the Centre is currently closed, you can search their collection online.
15. Listen to Return Journey performed by Lighthouse Theatre
In 1947 Dylan Thomas made a programme for BBC radio taking a nostalgic return to Swansea seeking his younger self in the years before the destruction of the Second World War. Listen to Lighthouse Theatre’s lovely performance of the much loved classic Return Journey.
16. Listen to Michael Sheen in Under Milk Wood
Another recording made available by the 92Y Poetry Center in New York is this 2014 production of Under Milk Wood, directed by, and starring Michael Sheen. Click here to listen. On May 14th video of the event will be made available online for the first time.
17. Test you ‘Dylan’ knowledge
Test your knowledge with the BBC’s Dylan Thomas versus Bob Dylan quiz.
18. Read a biography of Dylan Thomas
If you fancy digging deeper into the life and times of Dylan Thomas, there are numerous biographies and memoirs to discover. Dylan Thomas by Paul Ferris, or Dylan Thomas A New Life by Andrew Lycett are good places to start, but there are many excellent accounts to be found.
19. Listen to a Dylan Thomas inspired Spotify playlist
Listen to a Spotify playlist curated by Andrew Dally featuring tracks and artists inspired by Dylan Thomas.
20. Plan a future visit to Wales
Wales is closed to visitors during lock-down but will welcome you with open arms when the current crisis is over. Why not plan a future visit to Swansea and visit Dylan’s birthplace and the Dylan Thomas Centre, before visiting beautiful Mumbles and Gower where Dylan was a regular visitor. Search for Dylan’s roots in rural Carmarthenshire, visit his wartime home of New Quay on the Ceredigion coast, or make a pilgrimage to his final home and final resting place in Laugharne. Let Visit Wales be your guide.
We hope you find a way celebrate on International Dylan Thomas Day, have a great day.