Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Christmas is Coming

It's the end of October and the shops are starting to fill with festive offerings.  So, over the next couple of weeks, we'll look ahead to some of the events that are happening in Southern Wales over the festive period.  Today it's Caerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre:

Caerphilly ChristmasCaerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre
Caerphilly
7 - 8 December 2013

Caerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre returns once again this year on Saturday 7th & 8th December. Once a traditional market town, Caerphilly returns to its days of old with an eclectic mix of medieval entertainment, food and drink, and an abundance of stalls selling unusual Christmas gifts such as medieval replica, traditional crafts, jewellery and Christmas decorations.

Listen to seasonal period music and laugh at the hilarious frolics of the Jester, tricks of the medieval magicians and re-enactments from the knights, but watch out for the medieval beggars who will be roaming the market and chatting to visitors!

Caerphilly Castle is at the heart of the fayre, which is open to visitors all weekend; entry fee with even more market stalls, medieval entertainment and re-enactments within its walls
Visit the website for more details

No Rest at this Bay

At the western edge of the seaside town of Porthcawl lies Rest Bay.  A huge expanse of sand, (at least it is when the tide is out) the bay has been a popular draw for visitors for generations.

As well as people eager to relax on the golden sands, it is also something of a centre for sporting excellence.

Overlooking Rest Bay is the Royal Porthcawl Club.  Generally regarded as one of best (and toughest!) links courses in the country.  Even the best pros can struggle hear as the wind blows in off the Atlantic Ocean.  It has held some prestigious competitions in the past and in 2014 it is due to host the Seniors British Open.

The same Atlantic winds which make Royal Porthcawl so tough for golfers are welcomed by Rest Bay's other sportspeople - the surfers.  The waves here are considered some of the best in the country and different parts of the beach are suitable for both novices and more experienced surfers.  If you are new to the sport, then look out for the several local surf schools who can give you a few lessons.  They'll have you standing up in no time.

This weekend will see hundreds of people descend on the bay and the nearby town of Porthcawl, as it holds the annual water sports and music festival, Splashup

For more information on Porthcawl and the surrounding area visit www.bridgendbites.com (@bridgendbites)

New Year Races

Nos GalanNos Galan Races
Mountain Ash
31 December 2013
Website - www.nosgalan.co.uk


It might still be over 2 months away but preparations for one of Wales' more unique new year celebrations are well underway.

The races, which this year celebrates its 55th anniversary, are held each New Year's Eve in memory of local folk hero Guto Nyth Bran.  It was said that he could run from Mountain Ash to Pontypridd and back in the time it took a kettle to boil.

Hundreds of people take part in the races whilst hundreds more line the streets in encouragement. The highlight of the night will be the arrival of a Mystery Runner who will represent the spirit of Guto, carrying the torch from his graveside at St Gwynno's Church down the hillside to the town centre four miles away.

Previous Mystery Runners have included Linford Christie, John Hartson, James Hook, Shane Williams and Dai Greene.

If you're tempted to take part, then online registration is now open, just go to www.nosgalan.co.uk

Splash up is back

Porthcawl gets set for action with the return of the Splashup.  From 25-27 October the town celebrates its status as Wales' premier watersports town with a series of events, demonstrations and live music.

There'll be all sorts of activities taking place including a Beach Flag cotest, free watersports taster sessions and the fantastic night surfing competition.

Check out the video to see what happened last year and to give you a taste for what you can expect this time around.

For more information on the event go to the website or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Feast of Food Festivals

Food FestivalWe've had Bridgend's Feastival and the acclaimed Abergavenny Food Festival but the foodie fiestas of Southern Wales continue this month.

First up this Saturday is the Newport Food Festival.  There'll be a great atmosphere with plenty of on-street mayhem, demonstrations and masters classes and of course loads of stalls rammed with the very best local food and drink.

The focus then shifts to the rural market town of Cowbridge on the weekend of the 26-27 October for their food festival.

Again, there'll be dozens of stalls selling the best food and drink as well as chefs from top local restaurants and hotels demonstrating their skills.

In addition local business will be getting involved.  At the town's historic Bear Hotel there'll be live entertainment in their pop up 'Garden Village' as well as wine tasting and an intriguing Cupcake masterclass.  Visit their website for more information.

Tour de Caerphilly

This time next week, thousands of people will start to congregate at the top Caerphilly Mountain for what is rapidly becoming one of Wales' biggest annual sporting events.  For the third year running the Tour of Britain rolls into town.

Starting in Machynlleth, stage 5 winds it way through the Elan Valley and Brecon Beacons before arriving in Caerphilly where after 150 miles of racing the riders will face one final obstacle, the infamous Caerphilly Mountain.  Not content to make the riders struggle up it once, the route takes the race around the outskirts of the town and back to the foot for another go.

It will certainly prove to be a tough conclusion to the stage, especially the second time around.

Some of the world best cyclists will be competing as they aim for the race leaders Gold Jersey as well as making the final preparations for the World Championships in Florence the following week. 

Household names such as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish will be taking part as well as world class sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, winner of the famous Liege-Bastogne-Liege race Dan Martin and the young sensation from this year's Tour de France, the Columbian climber Nairo Quintana.

To find out more about the race, visit the Tour of Britain website

Get a Taste of Wales

Event - Abergavenny Food Festival
Location - Abergavenny
Date - 21 - 22 September 2013
Website

This is Wales' biggest and best food festival

The historic market town, which has a great reputation amongst foodies will be full of stands, stalls and exhibitors giving visitors, quite literally a taste, of Wales.  The various venues are situated close together and include the Market Hall, the Cheese and Wine Show, and Grillstock.

Complementing the stalls are a variety of masterclasses, tastings and talks whilst there is plenty to keep the kids happy with workshops, story telling and live music.

Don't worry if you can't make it to Abergavenny, there are two more great food festivals coming up over the next few weeks. 

Look our for the Bridgend Food Feastival (27-28 September), Cowbridge Food Festival (26-27 October) and the Newport Food Festival (5 October)

I hope you're feeling hungry!!!

Is this the most picturesque village in Wales?

Dipping Bridge AccentThis is the village of Merthyr Mawr near Bridgend.  It's an idyllic little settlement, as picturesque as they come, with an outstanding collection of thatched cottages positioned around an old Village Green

Despite being a relatively small village, there's plenty of interesting places to visit.  

At the entrance to Merthyr Mawr village is the 'Dipping Bridge'.  Built in the 15th century, the holes in the sides allowed farmers to push their sheep into the River Ogmore for a seasonal dip! At the side of the bridge once stood an inn, once popular with travellers on a pilgrimage to the city of St David's in Pembrokehsire.  It was reputed that the landlord would rob and murder his visitors and bury their bodies in his cellar.  When the pub was
eventually demolished at the beginning of the 20th century hundreds of skeletons were found in the basement. 

Just down the lane from the Dipping Bridge lie the remains of Candleston Castle, once a 15th century fortified mansion house, it is now an ivy covered ruin that was the centre point of ancient village of Treganlaw.

Just beyond the castle is one of the biggest sand dune systems in Europe.  It one stretched for miles, right around Swansea Bay and some of the dunes are as big as small mountains.  The dunes are an important wildlife habitat and site of scientific interest, which shelters a rich variety of plants. Parts of the Hollywood blockbuster 'Lawrence of Arabia' were filmed here.

Finally, cross the 'Swing Bridge' and over the stepping stones to explore Ogmore Castle, probably the most picturesque castle in Wales before sitting down for some well earned refreshments in the tea rooms or one of the country pubs nearby.

No Rest at this Bay

At the western edge of the seaside town of Porthcawl lies Rest Bay.  A huge expanse of sand, (at least it is when the tide is out) the bay has been a popular draw for visitors for generations.

As well as people eager to relax on the golden sands, it is also something of a centre for sporting excellence.

Overlooking Rest Bay is the Royal Porthcawl Club.  Generally regarded as one of best (and toughest!) links courses in the country.  Even the best pros can struggle hear as the wind blows in off the Atlantic Ocean.  It has held some prestigious competitions in the past and in 2014 it is due to host the Seniors British Open.

The same Atlantic winds which make Royal Porthcawl so tough for golfers are welcomed by Rest Bay's other sportspeople - the surfers.  The waves here are considered some of the best in the country and different parts of the beach are suitable for both novices and more experienced surfers.  If you are new to the sport, then look out for the several local surf schools who can give you a few lessons.  They'll have you standing up in no time.

For more information on Porthcawl and the surrounding area visit www.bridgendbites.com (@bridgendbites)

Caerphilly Castle

It's a big weekend in Caerphilly this weekend with the annual Big Cheese Festival.  It all starts tonight with the Great Cheese Race and the festivities continue throughout the weekend.

At the centre of the celebrations is of course the town's fantastic castle, one of the biggest in the country.

To find out more about it take a look at this video where the King of the Castle, (or Head Custodian to give him his proper title) Tony Payne tells us all about this magnificent fort.