by Dale Spridgeon

REAL ale and steam fans will be raising a glass to the return of a popular beer festival which helps put North Wales tourism on the tracks.

The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways’ ‘Cwrw ar y Cledrau’ real ale festival is back after several years on the buffers due to the pandemic.

The ‘Rail Ale’ festival as it is also known, is in its 16th year, and returns to the historic Dinas Station, near Caernarfon, from Friday, June 10, until Saturday, June 11.

Originally, the brain child of the Welsh Highland Railway Society, largely organised by volunteers, the festival is run in conjunction with the railway company.

Organisers say, whilst it proves to be “massively popular” with local families the event also give a “huge boost” to Gwynedd and nearby Anglesey’s tourism and trade.

The festival provides a vast array of ales, beers and ciders from across, Wales, many from the area’s microbreweries, and they are made available in the historic Goods Shed at Dinas Station, which is transformed into a ‘tap-room.’

Beside the Goods Shed, is a live music venue and socialising area, whilst catering vendors are located around the station.

Steam and diesel trains will run during the event and there are links to the Harbourmaster service at Porthmadog.

Shuttle trains from Caernarfon and Waunfawr will be available, as the railway is working in conjunction with the ‘Snowdonia Parc’ brewpub and campsite in Waunfawr throughout the festival.

As part of this year’s live music line-up, the festival welcomes Welsh bands ‘Y Brodyr Magee’, ‘The Jones Band’, ‘Y Cyffro’ and ‘Y Moniars,’

It will also be a special occasion for ‘Y Moniars’ who will be celebrating their 30th anniversary.

Elwyn Jones, chairman of the festival’s organising committee, said: “This is our long awaited, much anticipated, return of the festival after the pandemic.

“We are hoping people will come along and support this fantastic event for all the family.

“It provides a major tourism attraction for North Wales and sees people coming from all over the country and beyond.

“These visitors book the local hotels and B&Bs, buy meals in local restaurants, purchase goods in shops, use the taxis, as well as spending money at our festival, it all helps the local economy giving the area a huge boost.

“We sell locally produced ales and foods and support businesses, as well as providing a live venue for some of the area’s most popular bands.”

He added: “But it is not just an event for tourists, the festival has always been very popular with families in the area, many come back year after year.

“It is a friendly event, old friends meet up share a beer and few laughs, watch or ride the trains. There is plenty to see and do. ”

Organisers are also keen for any musicians coming along to the festival, who might be willing to play for free, around the festival site.

A spokesperson for the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways also described the event as “a feel-good event with a great choice of drinks, delicious food, local entertainment and good company!”

Although pre-booking via the website is preferred, the organisers say tickets will be available on the door.

See: www.festrail.co.uk/events

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