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UK's Year of the poets

Literature Wales has launched A Dylan Odyssey, a series of special events and tours that will form part of the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival which runs between May and November in 2014, marking the centenary of the birth of legendary Welsh poet.

A Dylan Odyssey allows visitors to experience the landscapes that inspired Thomas' words, exploring them by boat, canoe, horse-drawn carriage, bus, steam train, foot and horseback. Of the 23 tours available, many will be guided through the eyes of some of Wales' leading living artists, including comedian Griff Rhys Jones, author and scriptwriter Andrew Davies (who wrote screenplays for the BBC's Pride and Prejudice and the two Bridget Jones' Diary films), as well as National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke.

Highlights of A Dylan Odyssey include a four-day/three-night tour of Dylan Thomas at Home, which samples some of south-west Wales' great places to stay and eat, including exploring some of the places in which Dylan made his home; a guided journey to New Quay, which was the inspiration for Thomas' Under Milk Wood; Dylan Thomas' Oxford, Jazz and the Beat Poets, where poet Owen Sheers and Dylan's granddaughter Hannah Ellis explore the grounds of Magdalen College at Oxford University and visit South Leigh, followed by a Q&A with some of the surviving Beat Poets who were influenced by Dylan; and the Pop-up Dylan Thomas 100 Festival in London, featuring walks exploring Dylan's connections with Soho and Fitzrovia.

Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, south Wales (an hour's drive from the capital Cardiff) and there are Thomas landmarks all over the city from Wind Street where he drank with colleagues while working as a journalist, to Castle Street where he met other writers and artists such as Vernon Watkins and Alfred Janes, to the statue of Captain Cat. Both Swansea Museum and the city's National Waterfront Museum will be hosting special Dylan Thomas exhibitions and gallery trails during 2014.

Dylan Thomas settled in Laugharne, south-west Wales, between 1938-1940, and again in 1949 until his death. During these periods he moved house several times before settling with his wife, Caitlin, and children at the Boathouse, now a small museum. His writing shed can still be seen looking out over the shimmering estuary of the Taf.

Not forgetting Briitain's bard, 2014 also marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare. His works are still very much alive, performed in multiple languages all over the world, but there's nowhere like Britain for getting to know more about the man himself and experiencing his plays at the theatres they were designed to be put on at. if you're a fan of Shakespeare's work you can't miss a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, where he was born and raised. Situated in Warwickshire, Stratford (as it's known locally), is a two hour train trip from London, in the West Midlands region of England. 

There's plenty to interest the Shakespeare fan, starting with a visit to his home: the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust owns and manages Shakespeare's Birthplace, Anne Hathaway's Cottage (his wife's family home), Mary Ardens' Farm (his mother's family homestead), Nash's House and New Place, (his granddaughters home), and Hall Croft (his daughter's home). Passes are available on the VisitBritain shop.

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