Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Staycation Cardiff: The New City Break

After almost a week of empty skies, the airlines are slowly grinding back into life and vapour trails are starting to scrawl across the sky once more. But it might be a while before you find yourself a seat on that plane you’ve been waiting for - so why not make the most of your holiday in Cardiff?

Wales’ capital city is full of green spaces just asking for a picnic. Roath Park is a particular favourite, stretching from the football fields in the south, through the shady botanic gardens, to Roath Lake in the north. Here you can enjoy an ice cream on the banks, feed the swans or have a leisurely float in a pedalo.

If you’re feeling a little more energetic why not get on two wheels and cycle the Taff Trail to Castell Coch? This easy track winds its way from Bute Park, following the River Taff through woodland and villages, to the fairy-tale folly.

Sybil Williams, of Pedal Power in Pontcanna, says, “Bike hire has been very popular recently due to the good weather. We have great access to very nice trails – Cardiff is great for leisure cycling.”

If adrenaline’s your thing, why not join a high-speed boat tour of Cardiff Bay. Companies such as Bay Island Voyages or Cardiff Sea Safaris will take you out past the barrage to Flat Holm Island, combining adventure with spectacular scenery.

“Business has increased notably since the grounding of the planes,” says Pat Nicholas of Bay Island Voyages, “Since just last weekend we’ve had three extra group bookings for stag and hen dos that were supposed to be elsewhere.”

Cardiff enjoys a huge array of summer events and festivals. May’s first bank holiday promises to be a noisy one with Samba Galez’ Welsh Encontro 2010. A weekend of samba workshops and city-wide gigs will culminate outside the Senedd on 3 May with the ‘Sambadrome’ – a mass performance from all the visiting bands, totalling around 500 musicians.

Celebrate May Day in true Celtic style with Festival Interceltique de Lorient at the Wales Millennium Centre. This day-long international folk festival will see Bretons performing alongside home-grown musicians.

Fancy a bit of action? The Romans will be visiting Cardiff Castle en masse from 15 to 16 May for a spectacular military display, complete with artillery and a working ‘catapulta’.

You will probably have worked up quite an appetite by now! If it’s alfresco dining you’re after, Cardiff has plenty of options. Gastro pub, Y Cadno, provides good food and a quiet beer garden. For more traditional types, the Mochyn Du offers a range of local ales and hearty meals. The Maen Llwyd at Rudry is a regular in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Just north of Cardiff, it has a large beer garden with idyllic views of rolling countryside - the perfect place to relax on a sunny afternoon.

How about some culture to finish off a perfect day? Artes Mundi is currently on display at the National Museum Wales. The exhibition celebrates emerging artists from around the world and features installations, drawing, photography and film.

Ballet Nacional de Cuba will be at the Wales Millennium Centre from 5 May. Renowned for their Cuban passion, the company is to perform two programmes – ‘Magia de la Danza’ and ‘Giselle’ with live orchestral accompaniment by Royal Ballet Sinfonia.

From 6 May, National Theatre Wales’ production of ‘The Devil inside Him’ by John Osborne, starring recent Olivier Award winner, Iwan Rheon, will be showing at the New Theatre.

When Cardiff has all this to offer and more, you might find yourself starting to wonder why it was you wanted to go away on holiday in the first place…

Published: The Guardian (Cardiff), 23 April 2010

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