The next in our short series of features takes us to CARDIFF BAY. We’ll be exploring Cardiff itself in the next few weeks but in many ways the Bay is like a self-contained City all of its own, and certainly warrants its own spot.
The Bay has an incredible mix of attractions, entertainment and events, along with vibrant bars and shops that create a truly unique atmosphere.
Although it is under local lockdown right now, Cardiff Bay really does have something for everyone. The iconic Wales Millennium Centre (closed till January 2021) has some incredible shows – see further down this page. You can also enjoy events like the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, The Harbour Festival and the Wales Rally GB.
For us though, and most of the visitors to Cardiff Bay, it’s the perfect place to relax with family and friends.
Like most ‘Bay’ projects it rose out of nothing, as this picture shows.
You need to go back to 1987 for the start of the story when The Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC) was created. It was all about the redevelopment of 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) of derelict land. The Development Corporation planned to attract private capital by spending public money to improve the area.
Despite opposition by environmentalists and wildlife organisations, the mudflats at the mouths of the River Taff and River Ely were inundated, with loss of habitat for wading birds. The Barrage has created several new habitats for freshwater species with the wetlands to the south of the Hamadryad Park.
It was actually 13 year later when the Corporation wound up, having achieved many of its objectives. The whole area was unrecognisable from ten years before. Much private land was now open to the public, particularly around the inner harbour and the north side of Roath basin.
Work still continues, but it’s hard to imagine Cardiff city life without everything the bay has to offer. Here’s the SOUTH WALES LIFE two minute trip around the Bay.
For those of us who visit the Bay to enjoy the social side of life, as you can see in our short film, step away from the cafes and restaurants and you’ll find it has so much more to offer. Less than 5 minutes away from the hustle and bustle we all love, there is peace and tranquility and a world of natural beauty at the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve.
The nature reserve is located south and east of the Butetown Link Road and is bounded by the grounds of Cardiff Yacht Club, Windsor Esplanade (access at the south-west end and from the park via gates under the Butetown Link), the car park on Havannah Street (access at the end of the street) and St. David’s Hotel.
We would highly recommend a walk over to the reserve, There is so much to see, with viewing points and information boards to point out what is in front of you. We guarantee the kids will love it too, in fact you can download this brilliant interactive Wildlife Explorers Trail. They can spot the wildlife, take rubbings at various points and have loads of pictures to colour in. TRAIL
St David’s Hotel
The St David’s Hotel & Spa is a 5-star luxury hotel with commanding views of the bay and Penarth. Built by Rocco Forte in 2000, the hotel was sold in 2007, to Principal-Haley hotels.
This is the hotel many celebrity visitors choose when they come to town. The iconic architecture is outstanding, the Marine Spa is award winning and the views across the waterfront are second to none.
Although the hotel are following Covid Guidelines right now, you can see what they have to offer, and coming up over the next few months, right here. ST DAVID’S And if you want to take a virtual tour of the building, here it is TOUR
The Pierhead Building
The Pierhead was built in 1897 and designed by William Frame, who studied under William Burges. It was formerly the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company.
The Senedd is the Welsh Parliament building which includes the debating chamber and committee rooms.
Wales Millennium Centre
The Wales Millennium Centre is a proud entrance to the Bay, which be seen from Roald Dahl Plass. The Wales Millennium Centre is home to the Welsh National Opera.
Sadly WMC is closed until January 2021, and like many venues they have been forced to cancel show, such as PHANTOM. They have an amazing programme lined up for next year, and I’m sure, like us, you cannot wait to get back inside this incredible centre.
Here’s a few of our features on next years events.
- EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE
- THE LION KING
- THE BOOK OF MORMON
- FESTIVAL OF VOICE
- STRICTLY BALLROOM
- SCHOOL OF ROCK
To see the full schedule of shows and events at the centre, just go here. WMC
The Norwegian Church Arts Centre, is a rescued historic wooden church that was rebuilt in 1992 and operates as a registered self funded not for profit charity. It’s managed by Cardiff Harbour Authority and is as a venue for small concerts, art exhibitions, conferences, meetings and celebrations. When living in Cardiff as a child, the famous children’s author Roald Dahl attended this church.
The Norwegian Church Arts Centre is one of the landmark buildings situated in the Bay and has panoramic views over the waterfront. Formerly a Church for Norwegian Sailors, the iconic building dates back to the industrial revolution, when the Docks was the world’s greatest exporter of coal.
We can highly recommend a visit, which should start with a trip to their website. CHURCH
Craft in the Bay
This refurbished Victorian dockside building houses Craft in the Bay, the home of the Makers Guild in Wales. In light of the new COVID-19 local lockdown in Cardiff, they are remaining open to Cardiff residents only. They’ll be open between 11am to 3pm Thursday to Sunday each week.
If you want to find out more, you can see what they’re up to right here. CRAFT
Techniquest is an educational science & discovery centre, which also includes a science theatre and planetarium. The good news is, Techniquest is reopening on the 14th November.
Their mission is to embed science in Welsh culture through interactive engagement. They have some for schools and teachers to complement formal education provision in Wales and work extensively with public audiences.
Techniquest has a world-wide reputation for creating programmes and exhibits, and the staff includes leading experts in science communication.
What is so great about Techniquest is the interactivity of the experiences that are accessible to all, and that have been enjoyed in its centre by over 5 million people since its inception in Cardiff in 1986.
For more details just head here. TECHNIQUEST
Roald Dahl Plass
Roald Dahl Plass is a large open amphitheatre and is the perfect setting for carnivals and festivals all year round – just not this year. The space is ideal for a whole range of events from a beach fun fair, to amazing food festivals.
Here’s a few reminders of happy days gone by – they will return soon.
Mermaid Quay has pretty much everything you’d want on a day out. Most of all, this place is all about the atmosphere. The vibe as you walk around is relaxed and vibrant, depending on the time of day/night you go.
It’s the perfect place for dining out or relaxing over a drink in one of the 30+ restaurants, bars and cafés. With cuisine from around the world – from Welsh ice cream to Japanese sushi, from freshly prepared French food, stylish crepes and flame-grilled Latin American dishes to Italian pizza, Portuguese PERi-PERi chicken and everything in between – Mermaid Quay has somewhere for every taste, mood and budget.
When the world is fully operational agin, you can have a laugh at The Glee, Cardiff’s first and finest comedy club, or visit the new 5-screen Everyman boutique cinema?
While most of us would care to forget this year, it is indeed a special one for Mermaid Quay. They are celebrating their 21st anniversary this year, and believe us, despite the restrictions, they are making a fine job of making us feel welcome.
You can keep up to date with all the latest events at the Quay, right here. MERMAID And below we’ve linked to all of the paces you can visit when you are there.
- Bayside Brasserie
- Coffi Co
- Côte Brasserie
- Domino’s Pizza
- Gin & Bake
- JRC Global Buffet
- La Cha Cha
- Las Iguanas
- Signor Valentino
- Sushi Day
- The Cosy Club
- The Dock
- VIP Lounge
- Yakitori #1
Incidentally, THE COSY CLUB are involved in a fantastic scheme which we have been supporting since it began. Free Teas For Those In Need encourages local communities to pop in and enjoy a free cup of tea while connecting and chatting with new people. Cosy Club launched the initiative that aims to combat loneliness in people across the UK in a partnership with charity Independent Age. Find out more here. FREE TEA
There is far more than just eating, although we do love all of that. You can shop, visit the dentist, have a bet and get some new shoes too.
- Bupa Dental Care
- Fabulous Welshcakes
- Ken Picton Salon
- Pavers Shoes
- Taylors Countrywide
- Tesco Express
- The Glee
- Cardiff Bay Barrage – accessible via the Water Bus and by road, and free to explore and also has guided tours.
- Cardiff Bay Wetland Reserve – which has rare birds and a boardwalk leading to a viewing platform.
- Cardiff Bay Yacht Club
- Cardiff International Pool & Gym.
- Cardiff International White Water. They are back up and running.
- Cardiff Rowing & Sailing Centre – located in Channel View Centre. They are closed until further notice.
- Cardiff Waterbus – which offers a public transport service and tourist cruises.
- Viola Ice Arena Wales – ice rink & more. The arena is the official home of the Cardiff Devils Ice Hockey team. Sadly still not able to reopen.
- Queen Alexandra Dock.
- Cardiff Bay Retail Park. It’s adjacent to Wales’ only IKEA store. ASDA Superstore, B&M Bargains, Home Bargains, Poundstretcher, Sports Direct, JD Sports, Wilko, Pets at Home, Pizza Hut, McDonalds and much more.
- The Red Dragon Centre – is the ultimate entertainment destination combining big screen movies with 26-lane bowling, cool bars, restaurants and cafes, gaming, and free customer parking.
They have all this under one roof…..
- HOLLYWOOD BOWL
- GROSEVENOR CASINO
- SIMPLY GYM
- BELLA ITALIA
- FIVE GUYS
- ORIENTAL GARDEN
- SPICE ROUTE
- CARDIFF BAY TAVERN
Finally, how can we mention Cardiff Bay without a nod to DOCTOR WHO. It was used as the high-tech urban setting for the episode “Boom Town” and the show’s spinoff, TORCHWOOD.
In Torchwood, there is a giant secret base underneath the bay, named “The Hub”, from where the Torchwood team works. There is also a lift from the hub into the plaza with a perception filter making anyone who stands on the spot “not noticed”. In the third series of Torchwood entitled “Children Of Earth”, Cardiff Bay was the centre of a bomb explosion, destroying the Torchwood Hub and Cardiff Bay. Roald Dahl Plass features prominently.
In the episode “Utopia”, the Plass is home to a rift that the Doctor uses to refuel his Tardis. The Doctor Who episode “The Runaway Bride” made use of office buildings in Cardiff Bay.
Like the rest of the country, Cardiff bay is still finding its way back from the pandemic. It is currently part of a local lockdown. If you live or work in Cardiff you can still visit, and once we return to some sort of normality this is definitely a must visit place for us all.
You can check out the rest of the OUR SOUTH WALES feature below…….