CROWDS gathered for the Nato host city celebrations in Newport today ahead of next month's summit.
Hundreds of spectators watched the Household Cavalry band as it marched through the city centre to Westgate Square this morning. The 104 regiment of the Royal Artillery, which is based at Raglan Barracks in Newport, completed a feu du joie, a celebratory rifle salute, over the river Usk to mark the festivities.
The Nato food festival took place near the Riverfront Theatre and included produce from 28 different countries, all of whom will take part in the summit at the Celtic Manor Resort on September 4 and 5.
On offer were reindeer burgers from Iceland, waffles from Belgium, smorgasbord from Denmark and paella from Spain, alongside Welsh cheese from Ceredigion.
Emilia Koziol-Wisniewski, of Old Granary Pierogi, was representing Poland.
She said: "The food is going down really well. We have been quite busy but so far no-one has been daring enough to try the traditional pierogi, which is pan-fried and contains mashed potatoes and onions.
"We are very pleased to be a part of the food festival today. We found out about the Nato summit coming to Newport in a Polish newspaper.
“We will be back in Newport for the food festival in October."
Families got a taste of field cooking from the British Army and took a look inside military vehicles and equipment which were on display. Representatives from the 1st and 3rd Battalion the Royal Welsh and the 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards were also on hand.
Colonel Lance Patterson, representative commander of the 160 Wales Brigade, said: “It is quite an honour for the 104 regiment and an honour for us all to come to Newport and be a part of this special occasion. It's a great opportunity for the people of Newport to be able to talk with soldiers and get a real flavour of what the armed forces are all about.”
Local musicians, including Tobias Robertson and Remembering August, performed on the Riverfront terrace stage as part of the festivities organised by the UK Government and Newport City Council.
The Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb MP, said today’s festivities were a thank you to the people of Newport.
He said: “The whole reason for today is to say thank you to the people of Newport whose daily lives will be impacted by the summit temporarily. The government believes the summit will give Newport and South Wales a real tangible economic benefit.
“It will put a global spotlight on local business and what Wales has to offer. I make a point of taking the time to talk to local people. They are becoming more aware of the summit and genuinely becoming more excited with the growth of engagement. “
Representatives of the Newport CND and Cor Cochion took part in a protest against the summit during the march and outside the Riverfront theatre.
Caerphilly councillor Ray Davies, who is vice chairman of CND Cymru, said: “We are raising the awareness of what Nato is all about – they are funding the war machine. We are protesting peacefully through the Welsh tradition of using your voice to stand up for what we believe.”
The Red Devils, the Parachute Regiment display team, performed their aerial acrobatics and presented the ball to the referee for the start of the Newport County AFC game at Rodney Parade.