The first time I visited Aberaeron, I thought I had been transported across the Irish Sea: the brightly coloured houses surrounding the harbour seemed more reminiscent of Cork or Kerry than Wales. Many of these houses belonged to sea captains during the town's heyday as a seafaring port, and some of them bear the names of far-flung locations such as Melbourne. The town owes a debt of gratitude to the Reverend Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne, who passed an Act of Parliament in 1807 for the enlargement and improvement of the harbour, which in turn led to the development of a planned town thought to be one of the best of its kind in Wales. The once thriving economy was based around shipbuilding, with many sailing vessels and steamships bearing the Aberaeron name, and other local industries such as the production of wool in a woollen mill on the banks of the River Aeron and the ironworks, where the 'Aberaeron shovel' was made, a type of shovel with triangular blades and long curved handles designed to avoid back-bending work. The arrival of the railway in 1911 proved a mixed blessing, since while bringing a new transport option to the town, it also sounded the death knell for the town's seafaring activities (the line was finally pulled up in 1975 after being wound down first to passengers and then to freight).
Today, Aberaeron is a popular holiday town with a jolly mix of independent shops and decent restaurants and pubs, such as the colourful Harbourmaster Inn which dominates the harbourside, and which featured in a Welsh tourism advertisement a few years ago. There are a number of events and festivals, many of them in the summer months, although probably the oldest event is a fair that takes place each year on the 13th November, a throwback to the days when there was an annual livestock fair on this date. The livestock are gone now, and the modern-day fair promises 'fun and entertainment for all the family'.
For a list of events in Aberaeron see here.
Map of the area.