Here is another in the OUR SOUTH WALES series which gets us to the city of SWANSEA. While lockdown isn’t the best time to release it, we reckon it’s nice to look at the places we are missing, and can’t wait to visit again very soon.

If you want to be all official about it, it’s known as the City and County of Swansea. The county area includes Swansea Bay and the Gower Peninsula. Which makes it the second largest city in Wales and the twenty-fifth largest city in the United Kingdom. And it’s massive, with around 250,000 people living there, which makes it the second most populous local authority area in Wales after Cardiff.

The first thing you notice when you arrive into Swansea is the amount of redevelopment work going on, especially in the centre and close to the Bay area. But it’s a place which has known it’s fair share of redevelopment and rebuilding over the years.

In the Second World War, Swansea’s industrial importance made it a target of German bombing, and much of the town centre was destroyed during the Swansea Blitz on the 19th, 20th and 21st of February 1941, an event which became know as the ‘Three Nights Blitz’.

In 1969 Swansea was granted city status to mark Prince Charles’s investiture as the Prince of Wales. The Prince made the announcement during a tour of Wales. The city then Swansea obtained the further right to have a Lord Mayor in 1982.

Within the city centre are the ruins of the castle, the Marina, the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea Museum, the Dylan Thomas Centre, the Environment Centre, and the Market, which is the largest covered market in Wales. It backs onto the Quadrant Shopping Centre, which opened in 1978.

Other notable modern buildings include the BT Tower (formerly the GPO tower) built around 1970, Alexandra House opened in 1976, County Hall opened in July 1982. Swansea Leisure Centre opened in 1977; it has undergone extensive refurbishment which retained elements of the original structure and re-opened in March 2008.

You are blessed if you live there with so much to do right on your doorstep, as for the tens of thousands of visitors that pass into and through the City, there is plenty to keep you entertained during your stay.

First and foremost it really is a great family friendly holiday destination. With miles of beautiful beaches, castles, craft shops, top-class museums, there really is so much to do, either for a day or longer. If you like a bit of shopping then don’t worry about the kids, it’s small enough to walk around and really pedestrian friendly.

Our team went out with their cameras (before lockdown) to bring us this 3 minute snapshot of Swansea. Enjoy……….

Here are some ideas of things to do both in and around Swansea. Just bear in mind times are very different right now and any future openings or admittance needs to be checked first. We’ve added them here with the hope that one day, very soon, they can all get back to business as usual.

GOWER PENINSULA

The Gower Peninsula was one of the first areas to be designated as a site of outstanding natural beauty in the UK, and as such its woodlands and valleys are well worth exploring, and the area is also home to several parks and nature reserves, including Swansea Vale Nature Reserve – an exciting scarce wetland area which comes complete with bike trails and board walks.

The peninsula measuring just twenty by five miles is less than fifty miles west of Cardiff and a few minutes drive from Swansea.

Apart from the natural and varied beauty of the widely differing north and south coastlines there is an abundance of outdoor activities available to the nature lover and sportsperson. Water sports are popular with locals and visitors and waterskiing, surfing, kayaking, wind surfing, sailing and wakeboarding are available at a number of Beaches.

And if you want to do some exploring around the regions castles, there are plenty of those. The castles scattered throughout the peninsula were know as the ‘Lordship of Gower’ during Norman times. The largest was the now almost totally ruined Swansea castle. You can see what’s on offer below.

SWANSEA MUSEUM

Is a real treasure house of the ordinary and the extraordinary from Swansea past and present, and is a focus for the future of the city and its people, as well as providing a visitor experience. You are able to visit Swansea Museum at two locations – the Museum itself on Oystermouth Road, and the Tram shed in Dylan Thomas Square in the Marina.

  • Free admission
  • Open Tuesday – Sunday 10.00am – 4.30pm (Last admission 4.15pm)
  • Closed Mondays except Bank Holiday Mondays

To find out more about the museum, just go HERE

NATIONAL WATERFRONT MUSEUM

The museum is an incredible place, the building itself is stunning, as you can see in our film.

They have just celebrated a bit of milestone in the city, and sadly, because of lockdown, weren’t able to do it as we know they would have liked.

On 17th October 2005, The National Waterfront Museum in Swansea welcomed its first visitors. 15 years on it has developed in some unexpected ways. While it continues to tell the story of Wales’ industrial heritage and maintain and grow a national collection based around industry, it has also spread deep community roots.

It is the UK’s first Museum of Sanctuary, operates an award winning community gardening and food project called GRAFT, is a base for many of Swansea’s community and historic activities, and runs a busy annual programme of events that draws people of all ages from across Wales and the world. Here’s a look back at the museum’s story, from birth.

In normal times they have events running right throughout the year. Everything from free weekly movie screenings, to include family occasions. We can’t wait for them to get back to doing what they do so well.

If you’d like more details on the museum, and to find out more about the birthday celebrations, just go here. WATERFRONT

GOWER ACTIVITY CENTRE

The activity centres at Rhossili and Port Eynon provide fantastic accommodation for experiencing all that Gower has to offer, not to mention views that have to be seen to be believed.

For over 30 years they have been providing activities, events, and education and pride themselves on the experiences and memories they help to create.

Whether it’s surfing, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking or just getting away to relax and enjoy the views they really do have something for everyone.

In normal times they work with schools and colleges to provide residential week and half-week programmes, as well as creating bespoke activity breaks for groups, families, and anyone that wants to experience our area of outstanding natural beauty.

It’s not only the water where the adventure happens, they have so much happening on land too. They offer the chance to experience a range of activities that have been designed to be safe, challenging and fun on the Gower Peninsula. Their experienced teaching and instruction team have expertise in working with groups of children, young people and adults. The activities can be experienced as part of a residential visit or by arranging stand-alone activity sessions.

  • National Governing Body accredited Instructors
  • 1-12 instructor to participant ratios
  • All instruction and equipment
  • Free teacher/group leader places
  • Activity only – you do not have to be staying at the centres to experience the activities they offer
  • Transportation – they can take you to and from the activity or meet you there, whatever suits you
  • Affordability – at £45 per person for any activity on offer
  • Safety – Gower Activity Centres operates under a licence issued by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority and are reviewed annually
  • Convenience – booking activities couldn’t be easier, just drop them a line at gac@swansea.gov.uk or give them a call on 01792-390481
  • Modern equipment – their kit list is updated annually and the customers and their overall experience benefits from using up to date equipment

For more details on what the centre has on offer, just go here. ACTIVITY

PLANTASIA

It’s difficult to know where to begin with Plantasia, I guess saying it’s BRILLIANT wouldn’t be enough. Think of it like a zoo for plants, with a bit of theme park magic and sneaky education thrown in too.

When you arrive you step through a giant tree into a real rainforest and spend the day exploring this vibrant and magical world. You get to crawl through the under growth, come face to face with crocodiles and climb high in the canopy with the parrots – if you dare.

This really is a full on, interactive, immersive tropical experience for all the family. 

Like most places PLANTASIA are feeling the effects of the pandemic and lockdown, they do however have the most fun and

Join the expert Zoo Keeper Team as you tour the tropical zoo, meeting many of the wonderful animals along the way. You will get close up views of the animals, see feeding experiences, learn amazing facts about each, before finishing with a Q&A with the experts.

  • You won’t be here in the flesh, but they promise you’ll see a lot more than on a general visit!
  • You won’t experience the tastes and smells of the jungle, but they’ll get you closer to the animals than ever before!
  • You won’t be able to read their amazing signage and displays, but you’ll learn more than ever!

SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT

The Quadrant Centre and Oxford Street has a great mix of chain stores and independent shops. You can see what they have HERE. As for Swansea Indoor Market, which lies between the two areas, that is not only something very special, but is also the largest market in Wales. MARKET

As for entertainment, the town have a great theatre, where the team here at SOUTH WALES LIFE have enjoyed many a night. Obviously it is a really tough time within our theatres, and the Swansea Grand is no exception. You can take a look at their brochure right here GRAND

We also feature the market in our guide to SOUTH WALES MARKETS.

WALES AIR SHOW

One of our biggest free shows will be back next year, after an enforced break this summer. If the weekend weather is anything like last year it will be a show like no other. No matter what however, thousands will turn out for one of our biggest Airshows on Swansea Bay.

Last year they smashed the attendance record, the weather was perfect and the organisers felt it was the best ever! With that in mind, and no event this year, we’re sure they’ll be looking to make 2021 even bigger, with even more exciting air display teams and entertainment. To read our feature on the event, ho here. AIR SHOW

There are a couple of really big music events coming to the city next year, Olly Murs places a date on his 2021 tour and the amazing Nile Rodgers and Chic will finally arrived on their rescheduled date. Take a look at our features below.

Did you know that during the 19th-century industrial heyday, Swansea was the key centre of the copper-smelting industry, earning the nickname Copperopolis. Which is also the name of a series of comics put together by the Swansea Comic Collective…….

You can take a look at the other OUR SOUTH WALES features below.

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