Bringing Welsh back to Valleys; NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD 2010: Showing the rest of the country what they have.
EISTEDDFOD chiefs hope the return of the festival to the Gwent valleys for the first time in 20 years will give the Welsh language a boost.
The week-long festival starts tonight with a special concert in the Eisteddfod pavilion in Ebbw Vale featuring award winning choir Only Men Aloud.
Eisteddfod organising committee chairman, Richard Davies, said it was important the event should have a positive effect on the area.
He said: "The Eisteddfod's visit is a great opportunity for us to show the rest of Wales what the Valleys have to offer.
"People still think they're quite dull places with scarred industrial landscapes, but nothing could be further from the truth. We live in an exceptionally beautiful area, and there's also a real welcome here - a real Valleys welcome - and this is what's waiting for people from across the whole of Wales next week.
"Seeing the Pavilion going up was amazing - we've never had a pink pavilion in Blaenau Gwent before. I'm looking forward to welcoming my friends from across Wales to my home town, to my local area, and show them that Blaenau Gwent can put together a great festival for the whole country.
"Then, a few weeks off, feet up, and a chance, hopefully, to look back at an Eisteddfod to remember."
Des Hillman, leader of Blaenau Gwent Council said: "We're famous for our welcome in the Valleys, for the fact that we're Welsh through and through and that the musical culture of our country runs through our veins.
"The language may have lost ground locally during the 20th century but things are changing.
"There's more call than ever for Welsh medium education in Blaenau Gwent and our enthusiasm for the Eisteddfod has encouraged so many local people to learn Welsh.
"Blaenau Gwent is famous for our industrial history but the Eisteddfod's visit and the regeneration projects underway are our future, and part of our country's future."
The Eisteddfod is being staged on the site of a former steelworks and the rolling mill and several huge bunker buildings feature as part of the Maes.
Eisteddfod director Elfed Roberts said the festival promised to be one of the most exciting in recent years.
He said: "There's no doubt holding the Eisteddfod on a former industrial site has presented different challenges from usual, but we've been working closely with the local council to put the arrangements in place."
Wales' premier cultural event features more than 6,000 competitors vying for awards in poetry, music, dance and visual arts.
But it is also a major festival and organisers are hoping about 150,000 people will visit the Maes to see, among other things, the arts and crafts exhibition and more than 300 trade stands where organisations from across Wales can sell their products.
The Maes at Glyn Ebwy is gearing up for this year's National Eisteddfod Picture: ARWYN ROBERTS