A Christmas guide to Cardiff.

Cardiff, Cardiff Eats, Travel, UK, Wales

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. It is socially acceptable to live in loungewear, there is cinnamon in absolutely everything and raclette is officially its own food group. This year, the festive build up looks a little different, but with this guide, and a little help from For Cardiff , it should see you through this “new normal” and have you skipping merrily down Castle Street singing like Mariah herself and showing a bit of love to all of the amazing businesses that really, really need it right now.

Don’t forget to check the current restrictions before you venture out into the world! You can find updated restrictions here.

1.Enjoy the Christmas markets

My fave part of Christmas in Cardiff. The markets. I really thought this year it wouldn’t be doable but how amazing it is to see those lodges lit up and full of amazing produce. Don’t miss the Raclette stall! They are doing a raclette mac & cheese this year and it’s truly to die for.

2.Toast some marshmallows at Cardiff Castle

If it’s good enough for Kate and Wills, it is good enough for me! The folks at Cardiff Castle have gone to an unbelievable effort this year in order to bring us some Christmas joy safely. The Castle is free to the public and packed with ski style chalets, light shows, food trucks and my fave, the marshmallow roasting station. Sadly, the interior of the Castle has had to close due to Covid restrictions but the public square and food stalls are still open and brimming with merriment. 

3.Treat yourself to a spot of lunch.

It still amazes me what a culinary hub that Cardiff is becoming. Christmas means meals with loved ones, festive menus and overdue catch-ups. The 6pm curfew, rule of four and restrictions of premises serving alcohol has certainly thrown a curveball our way but why not book a lunch at any one of the countless restaurants the City has to offer. Try Honest Burgers for their Christmas special stuffed with an oozy slice of Camenbert. Or, Mowgli, with their swing seats and authentic Indian street market dishes. Don’t miss the yogurt chat bombs. Or, The Ivy! Those beautiful decorations draw me in every time, as does their iconic Shepherd’s pie. The perfect winter warmer.

4.Cardiff’s best hot chocolates.

Where do I start first? The Ferrero Rocher one at the Christmas market, the Nutella latte at Coffee Barkers or maybe even the Gingerbread one at Hotel Chocolat made with real flakes of chocolate. City of Arcades, City of hot choccies.

5.Raid the Market for all your Christmas must-haves.

Cardiff Market truly is a Cardiff institution. A bustling hub of sellers that have been there for years on end and sell anything and everything you can imagine – Tophats, fabrics, fruit and veggies, wood fired pizzas, flowers and more. I always take a visit to Ashtons to pick up some fresh seafood for Christmas Eve. Followed by a quick stop off at The Secret Garden Florist for some of their adorable mini Christmas trees. Just do not leave with getting a bag of fresh Welshcakes from Bakestones – it’s basically against the law.

6.Shop for some last minute decorations.

It is never too late to shop for decorations. Cardiff is home to the only John Lewis in Wales and every year in mid-November the 3rd floor becomes a treasure trove of baubles, tinsel and fairy lights. My tree may be up and fully decorated but there are always space for a few more pretty pieces. If you like your baubles with a side of wacky make sure you head to Paperchase – it’s the only place I know that you can get baubles in the shape of Ramen noodles…

7.Get wrapping.

Wrapping is one of my favourite parts of Christmas! I plan my colour scheme and then hunt for all the paper, ribbon and decorations I need. I usually get my paper at Paperchase in St David’s 2 but for ribbons, tags and little pretties it’s always Cardiff Market and Tiger! Tiger has those gorge little Scandi tags this year with the old-fashioned Santa’s on. Too cute.

8.Inject a bit of luxury with a Festive Afternoon Tea.

Why not book an early Christmas treat for someone? The Park Plaza are currently serving up a Festive Afternoon tea in their Laguna kitchen and bar and it is the perfect treat for this time of year. A selection of festive pastries, finger sandwiches, fresh scones, mince pies and the cutest little Christmas sweets you’ll ever see. Get there a little early and enjoy a non-alcoholic mulled wine in their lobby, which is beautifully lit right now with log fires and fairy lights.

9.Pretend you’re in The Holiday at Wally’s Deli.

“Oo someone’s having a party!” “Oh yeh”

I have never stepped into a Deli that looks anything near to the one Cameron Diaz steps into in The Holiday. Apart from Wally’s that is. Whether it’s their Deli you’re heading too or the Liquor Cellar over in Castle Arcade what you’ll find is endless shelves and corners of gorgeous foods, booze and goodies. I love piling up tub after tub of olives, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes to graze on. They also sell those gorgeous lebkuchen that are perfect attached to a gift for a little extra treat for someone you love.

10.Satisfy your sweet tooth.

One word. Hotel Chocolat. I remember when the 1st store in Cardiff opened, my closest one at the time was Birmingham so when they opened in the ‘Diff it was utter heaven! Then, they opened a new store… with a cafe!!! So now when I go to buy boxes of Christmas sleeksters, caramel penguins and Apple strudel truffles I can also pick myself up a Billionaire sundae. Treat for you, treat for me!

11. Finish off some last minute shopping.

The St David’s shopping centres truly are a one stop shop for all your gifting needs. Everything from something for the little ones in Disney or Hamleys to something handmade from one of the many businesses at Cardiff Creative. A little further outside the comfort of St David’s is The Castle Emporium – a sweet little independent store with several small businesses selling house plants, art and gifts.

12. Add a touch of Wales

All Christmas’ should have a touch of Wales. Even if it’s a simple Nadolig Llawen in the Christmas card. If you want to get something a little more personal this year then why not head to Shop Wales. Tucked away on St John Street, Shop Wales is a lush little gift shop selling art, ornaments, gifts and some very cute cuddly leeks… I’ll be picking up a few Welsh cake candles for relatives living in England. Bringing a little bit of Wales to their Christmas!

So many of these wonderful businesses featured are For Cardiff members and you have the chance to win a £150 voucher to spend in a plethora of Cardiff busineeses. To enter just head over to Instagram to find out more – @forcardiff

For more tips on where to go this Christmas in Cardiff don’t forget to go to the For Cardiff website, there are also some fantastic videos on their Instagram page, guides to the arcades, little glimpses into the City’s favourite restaurants and a through the doors of Cardiff Market!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas all! Nadolig Llawen.


What’s on in Cardiff – Autumn Edition

Cardiff, Wales

It may still be sitting around a humid 26 degrees right now in South Wales but last Sunday welcomed the 1st September and for me, that means one thing…It’s officially autumn guys.

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Get your bulk order of opaque tights in before it’s too late, put the pumpkin spice candle and furry socks down, this season there is no room for staying in, there’s far too much going on to spend Fall sat in your dressing gown watching X-Factor. Here are a few of my favourite events popping up in the next few months around Cardiff

Luna Cinema

This is my absolute favourite event of the year by far! Grab your camping chair, a blanket, and a picnic and get yourself down to Cardiff Castle to watch a movie under the stars in the most incredible cinema surroundings you’ll ever see. Luna Cinema is the country’s leading open-air cinema and they pop up in the most beautiful venues around the UK showing a multitude of movies, from the latest to blockbusters to classics like Pretty Woman and Back to the Future. My favourite thing about this event is that you have the freedom to bring what you need. If you don’t fancy queuing at the bar or grabbing a snack from the street food trucks then come prepared with some snacks of your own. You can even bring your own booze. Just leave the glass at home!

Luna Cinema Cardiff runs from September 13th-15th. Further information and ticket purchases can be found here.

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Photo credit: Luna Cinema

Oxjam Cardiff

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Photo credit: Oxjam (Oxfam GB)

For the music lovers amongst you, 27th October is a date for your diary. Oxjam is not only the UK’s largest grassroots festival, but it is also a music festival of a whole new breed; it’s a festival created to beat poverty. Oxjam Cardiff will see 20 different artists perform at spots all over the city and all of the money raised goes directly to Oxfam to help support their work around the world. Oxjam is also a huge promoter to independent artists. Since the first festival in 2006 several artists have gone on to become huge stars in the music world. Foals anyone? Everything Everything? They might ring a bell.

There are few details released to date but keep a close eye on the facebook page as well as the Oxjam webpage.

I’ll be working with Oxjam Cardiff to promote this event so I’ll also be sharing key info closer to the date on my instagram and twitter.

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Rugby World Cup 2019

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Ok so it’s not in Cardiff but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a huge event for your Autumn calendar. One small detail… since the matches are being played in Japan all of the matches are played around breakfast time here in the UK. Now if I know Cardiff, and I think I do, that will not stop any rugby fan in the way of enjoying a proper rugby day out. It just means that you’ll be enjoying an Eggs Benedict with the match instead of a pint, or four…

Now, I haven’t seen much in the way of venues announcing showings of the match yet but here are a few of my favourite rugby spots. Now just pray they will all be showing it!

Depot

Let’s be honest, the team at Depot were always guaranteed to announce one hell of an event timetable for the World Cup and they have not disappointed with their Fanhub returning for both the Wales v Uruguay and Wales v Australia games. Every £5 ticket gets you a free pint. I think that’s a good indication of how this breakfast screening will go down…

Old Arcade

The Old Arcade is my absolute favourite Cardiff pub, particularly on a matchday. I love how it’s kind of tucked away in the side streets, you would barely know it is was there if you weren’t familiar with the area. It’s packed to the rafters with rugby memorabilia and more often than not you’ll spot a few Ex-Blues and Ex-Wales players in there.

Welsh Fixtures – announced to date

Monday 23rd September- Wales vs Georgia – KO 11:45am (UK Time)

Sunday 29th September- Wales vs Australia – KO 16:45pm (UK Time)

Friday 11th October- Wales vs Fiji – KO 18:45pm (UK Time)

Sunday 13th October- Wales vs Uruguay – KO 17:00 (UK Time)

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I wish I could list a thousand more events and autumn spots to you lovely lot but I’ve got Bake Off to watch and a custard tart to eat, but how could I leave you without a few extra recommendations for when the cold weather rolls in? Enjoy!

Extra Events

Wales Millenium Centre, Supper Club

Abergavenny Food Festival

St Fagans Real Food Market

Oktoberfest Comes to Cardiff

 

8 reasons why West Wales should be your next holiday destination.

Travel, Wales

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1.THE PUBS

New Quay is home to the Black Lion, reputably Dylan Thomas’ favourite haunt. Tresaith is home to The Ship Inn, my favourite haunt. Aberaeron is home to The Harbourmaster, reputably everyone’s favourite haunt. It has won countless awards after all. You could really spend your entire holiday going from pub to pub and why not!? From the beautifully modern Harbourmaster to the traditional stone and slate Pentre Arms (Another favourite of Dylan Thomas) there are so many lovely pubs to choose from so why choose at all?

2.THE BEACHES

From where we stay in Tresaith there are at least six or seven beaches within a short driving distance and each more beautiful than the last. My personal favourite is Mwnt, wind down the country roads and you’ll most certainly think you are lost but the view at the end is worth the journey. Sat on that beach, looking around at the crystal blue sea and the rock formations dipping into it you’d believe you were in a movie set. Oddly, it somewhat reminds me of that Raquel Welch beach scene in One Million Years B.C. A beach that is so beautiful it’s as though it is completely untouched, totally natural and almost prehistoric. How many other places can you say that about in this day and age?**

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3.THE WILDLIFE

Up until my first visit to West Wales I had the right hump about never having seen dolphins. I’ve been to countless Caribbean islands but not a single spotting… I drive two hours from Cardiff to New Quay and there are dozens of the buggers! It’s almost a challenge to not spot any wildlife on the Pembrokeshire and Cardigan coasts. Dolphin pods, Seals basking in the sun or popping up to be nosy, Crabs, Lobsters and sea life galore. Best of all? All in their natural habitat. For a great dolphin spotting location head to one of my favourite pubs in the world, The Ship Inn, Tresaith. Grab a cold drink and try to nab a bench overlooking the sea, there are dolphin spottings almost every day from that exact location.

4.THE FOOD

If there is one thing I love most about the seaside it’s the seafood and the West coast does it exceptionally well. Try The Lime Crab in New Quay for your old school fish and chips fix. In addition to cod and chips for you traditionalists, they also offer up a few different dishes such as salt & pepper squid, mackerel goujons or scallops for those who like their chippy tea with a twist. They also offer a great range of both gluten-free and vegan options. If you fancy a sit-down meal then you really can’t miss The Cliff, Cardigan or The Harbourmaster, Aberaeron. Both serve up a stunning array of freshly caught seafood. For a quick pub snack, The Harbourmaster crispy cockles with spicy vinegar are not to be missed! If you somehow aren’t full from the copious amounts of crab, cockles and other fresh fishies you simply cannot miss a visit to Crwst in Cardigan for a spot of brecwast. Try their pancakes served with Llaeth y Llan yogurt, homemade granola, mixed berries, and Cardigan honey and grab a few doughnuts to snack on for later. You’ll find space, trust me.

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5.THE HISTORY

Whether it’s famous poets or prehistoric settlements you are looking for, the West is a haven of historic tales for you to explore. Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn is surrounded by myth and legend, the 25 tonne stone is actually a Neolithic tomb but in the land of the dragon, there is no harm in believing whichever legend you choose. Head into the town centre of Cardigan and to the castle that sits on the banks of the River Teifi to explore years and years of Welsh history, or, If beautiful views are the cheese to your toastie then don’t miss Pembroke Castle. It’s as if Disney plucked this castle right into each of their movies, it really is breathtaking. It’s also the birthplace of Henry VII!

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6.THE BEER

Dive into any one of the aforementioned pubs and you won’t struggle to find a pint of good, Welsh beer. The South may be the kings of brewing the beers with the likes of Tiny Rebel, Grey Tees and Pipes all residing there but the West know how to serve it up. For a real taste of the West then seek out a pint of the strong stuff brewed by Felinfoel or Gwaun Valley Breweries. Iechyd Da!*

7.THE VIEWS

Stand by the statue of St Crannog looking over Llangrannog bay. Near the Church of the Holy Cross in Mwnt. On the beach in Aberporth. Stand/Sit/Jump in any one of those spots and tell me that those views don’t rival some of the best in the world. Wales is a country of unparalleled beauty and the West coast showcases it beautifully with its picturesque seaside towns and coastal paths.

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8.THE RELAXATION

Joe and I are lucky enough that we go to the West Coast every summer with his family. When I started writing this piece I asked him what his favourite thing about Tresaith was (The small coastal village we stay in), “It’s a week of the year where I can just totally relax because it feels a million miles away but yet it still feels like home”. Well, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a home away from home, a small piece of Welsh paradise and the perfect remedy for those busy bees amongst you that just want a break away from city life.

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If you are officially head over heels and fancy booking your break to West Wales, check out Canopy and the Stars for some gorgeous accommodation options. Including a few dog-friendly ones so your pooch can also come for a mooch!

*Cheers! in Welsh.

**Be warned there are lots of steps to get down to the beach so make sure you have your supplies before you get down there, you don’t want to find your perfect spot and then realise you’ve forgotten your much needed Calippo.