FOCUS Wales is back and bigger than ever, as Wrexham's multi-venue music festival returns in 2019 for its ninth edition.

The event, which places the music industry spotlight firmly on the emerging talent from Wales, will welcome more than 10,000 people to the town, building upon 2018′s record attendance, across a jam-packed weekend of gigs and seminars.

More than 200 bands and artists will fill out a variety of spaces and music venues across Wrexham, using 20 stages, with interactive industry sessions, stand-up comedy, arts events, and film screenings, all included on the line up for this year's festival.

"There's always last minute bits of admin and lots of dotting the i's and crossing the t's to do but we're looking good and we're looking forward to it," says the festival's joint founder, Neal Thompson. "We always try to incrementally increase every year with more acts and delegates, and this year we really wanted to push it up a level with Neck Deep as one of our headliners - it's great to have their homecoming gig at William Aston Hall and it's a sign towards the direction we want to go with bigger shows and more people coming into the town."

Neal and his team received a blow earlier this year whenthe Live Rooms Wrexham, which for many years was known as Central Station, closed its doors, with all FOCUS Wales gigs booked to take place there forced to move to another venue.

"We've had a lot of ups and downs this year," admitted Neal. "I think from a creative point of view Wrexham as a town is as good as it ever has been and there are loads of good bands. What we're struggling with a little bit is the infrastructure around it especially when it comes to the closure of venues.

"We had to move the entire programme to the Memorial Hall which was a real shame - on the one one hand we're really trying to grow the event and bring more people into the town but on the other hand there are still all these troubles facing live music at the grass roots level.

"We will be tackling the problem at the conference this year as we've got a panel on the solutions for live venues and ways in which they can be helped to safety proof themselves from closure.

"We still have this ridiculous scenario where a venue can have been there for 50 years and then a block of flats suddenly goes up next to it and the noise complaints start. Luckily I think Wales is slightly different and I think the Assembly has realised that culture is really important and that saving that is really important as opposed to this trend towards annihilating anything that's slightly different in any town or city across the country.

"Grass roots venues are where all bands come from - bands who play stadiums don't just drop out of the sky and they all need to start somewhere. When we were kids we would put our own gig on in a pub and it's all about making that stuff easy."

Bands such as Catfish & The Bottlemen, Slaves, and This is the Kit have all played the festival since its first edition in 2011 and this year's event welcome headliners Boy Azooga, BC Camplight, The Lovely Eggs, 9Bach and Skindred to Wrexham, which is proving a hotbed of talent, with the likes of Kidsmoke and Seazoo both getting national attention and airplay in the last 12 months.

"It's hard to keep up them at the moment." laughs Neal. "There are a ton of them and it's great to see. We are trying to make the line up as diverse as possible and I always make a point of going to see as much as I can, otherwise what is the point of organising your own festival!?

"We have a great set of people working as staff and they come from all over the country to work on FOCUS Wales. They do a great job behind the scenes."

Planning and then growing the event year on year has remained a priority for Neal and fellow organiser Andy Jones, who are already plotting the 2020 edition of FOCUS Wales.

"I'm just on the middle of writing our business plan for next year and the two years after that," adds Neal. "What we've done with this year is an indication of how we want to take it forward."

FOCUS Wales takes place over May 16, 17 & 18. For more information or to book tickets, visit