May 20, 2015
2016 will be the Year of Roald Dahl in Wales
by Nick Davies
Beloved children’s author Roald Dahl—known for books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and Fantastic Mr. Fox—will be celebrated all through next year in Wales, to mark what would have been his 100th birthday.
David Deans reports for Wales Online that the Welsh government is dedicating 2016 to a celebration of “epic proportions” in Dahl’s honor. The author was born to Norwegian parents on September 13, 1916, in Llandaff, a suburban of the country’s capital of Cardiff. He spent most of his childhood there, including an incident recounted in The Independent a few years ago, when he and his friends put a dead mouse in a jar of gobstoppers at a local candy shop.
Wales has had a lot of success this year with the Dylan Thomas Centenary, honoring the renowned poet so closely associated with Wales, including a festival in Swansea, TV shows, and live events in Cardiff and New York. The local government hopes to recapture and build on that success with similar events for Dahl.
While officials have not revealed exactly what the Dahl Centenary will entail, culture minister Ken Skates says, “Building on the success of the Dylan Thomas Centenary celebrations, and as part of the Year of Adventure next year, we are working with a range of partners to develop exciting plans to celebrate the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth in Cardiff in 1916. We will announce further details shortly, but I can say the ideas being developed contain plans of epic proportions.”
If any Welsh government officials are reading this and looking for ideas, here are a few to consider:
- A fully functional replica of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (without the exploitative labor practices)
- Telekinesis lessons for children, in the spirit of Matilda
- Big Friendly Giants stationed around Cardiff and other cities acting as tour guides
- Magic shows put on by real witches
- A contest for local farmers to grow the largest possible peach (bonus points if it can serve as trans-Atlantic transport)
Local politician Eluned Parrot says, “I would love to see a Roald Dahl Children’s Centre which would encourage children in Wales to explore their own imaginations while helping boost literacy in a creative way.” That would be terrific, of course, but let’s not lose sight of the larger goal: a life-size chocolate factory, complete with chocolate river and great glass elevator.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.