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Llanelli, Wales

Llanelli, Wales

Coordinates: 51 41 N 4 10 W

Population: 44,475 (2001 est.)

As I made preparations to visit Britain later this month, I happened across a peculiar celebration that made me wish I had scheduled my trip to start a few days earlier: the National Mud Festival of Wales. Held in Llanelli, a town overlooking Carmarthen Bay, this two-day event began in 2002 as an entertaining way to educate locals about the wetlands surrounding the Burry Inlet. In addition to providing habitat for a variety of wildlife and protecting the coast from the erosive forces of the Celtic Sea, these mudflats also contribute to the economic well-being of the area. Thousands of tons of cockles are harvested here annually, eventually finding their way to the kitchens of Welsh eateries where they are boiled, dusted with pepper and a dash of vinegar, and enjoyed with a side of laverbread (seaweed) on toast. Sure, I may be unlikely to find a “Tug of Mud” contest in London, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find a good place to try my first cockle, does it?

Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.

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