Visit Southern Wales

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Archive for tag: St Fagans

A Feast of Festivals

This autumn, Southern Wales will be awash with food festivals, celebrating the very best in local food and drink.

The first festival of the season takes place in the picturesque surroundings of the St Fagans National History Museum on the weekend of 6-7 September.  Located on the outskirts of Cardiff, the 100 acre site houses many of Wales' most historic buildings and interspersed amongst them will be dozens of stalls serving up some hearty treats.  Cheeses, ciders and ice creams will be amongst some of the goodies you can indulge in.

Just two weeks later (20-21 September), the biggest food festival of them all hits Abergavenny. Now in its 16th year, the event is as popular as ever.

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 master classes, tastings and talks whilst there is plenty to keep the kids happy with workshops, storytelling and live music.

The following weekend (26-27 Septemerb), it's time for something slightly different with Bridgend's Food Festival.  Called Feastival, and billed as Wale's Alternative Food Festival, there's always something different or unusual going on.  Previous years' activities have included the Giant Cauliflour Sheep (you really do need to watch this YouTube video), the Leaning Tower of Pizza and the Orange-utan.

Finally, it's Newport's turn with its festival on Saturday 4th October.  Amongst all the usual stalls there'll be an array of talks, demonstrations and  workshops for you to enjoy.

For more information on any of these festivals, click on the links below
St Fagans Food Festival
Abergavenny Food Festival
Bridgend Feastival
Newport Food Festival

Christmas at St Fagans

Christmas as St Fagans PicThe National History Museum is one of Wales most popular visitor attractions. Located in the village of St Fagans, just a couple of miles from Cardiff City Centre, the outdoor museum is home to dozens of buildings brought to the site from every corner of Wales before being re-built brick by brick. Each building tells the story of Wales from a different era and perspective. Buildings include a row of ironworkers cottages, a school and even a church.

St Fagans is a wonderful place to visit the whole year round, but is especially atmospheric in the run up to Christmas. Its Christmas nights events are especially popular. This year's event runs from 5-7 December and sees the whole site lit up to get you in the festive spirit.

Father Christmas sets up his grotto in front of the roaring log fire in one of the old farmhouses, there's carol singing, brass bands and a chance to experience the ancient Welsh tradition of the Mari Lwyd. There are also traditional fairground rides, craft stalls and plenty of festive food and drink.

Don't forget to wrap up warm and bring your torch! Nadolig Llawen.

Tickets must be purchased in advance from here and further information can be found here

History Comes Alive

Wales makes no secret of the fact that it is a country full of history and heritage.  And where better to find out all about it than at the superb National History Museum.

Situated just 4 miles from the centre of Cardiff, in the pretty grounds of St Fagans Castle, a 16th century manor house, the museum's collections comprise over 40 historic buildings from every corner of Wales.  Moved from their original location, they were then transported to the site before being re-built brick by brick by skilled craftsmen.

Buildings on site include farm buildings, a school, a workingman's institute and a row of 5 Ironworkers' cottages originally from Merthyr Tydfil where each cottage is decorated in a style from different eras, from 1805 to 1985.

Undoubtedly, the most impressive building on the site is the 12th century St Teilo's Church.  Originally standing on the banks of the Lougher estuary near Swansea, the church was carefully dismantled before being transported to St Fagans where it was restored both inside and out in a 16th century style.  The whole relocation project took an incredible 20 years to complete before the church was opened to the public in 2007.

As well as the buildings, visitors to the museum can see skilled craftsmen and women at work in their various workshops.  A blacksmith, Welsh clog maker, potter, saddler, miller and backer can all be seen making their wares using traditional techniques.

Entry is free.  For more information visit their website

Whistle Stop Tour of Southern Wales

Six Bells Mining MemorialI had a great couple of days out of the office showing a group from UK Inbound around our area.

UK Inbound is a trade association that represents Tour Operators from around the world who bring travellers into the UK.  And 15 of those operators pitched up in Cardiff on Thursday to see what Southern Wales could offer them.

Arriving in Cardiff Central train station the group made the short journey out to Llanerch Vineyard on the outskirts of the city where they enjoyed a cookery demonstration from chef Angela Grey in the vineyard's cookery school.  Next it was into the restaurant for lunch and a welcome from owner Ryan Davies who gave the group a taste Llanerch's very own wine.

Following Llanerch Vineyard the group made the quick hop to the UK's favourite Tourist Attraction, the St Fagans National History Musuem.  They were intrigued by the buildings which make up the museum's exhibits, particularly the Workingmen's Institute, church and the row of ironworkers' cottages from Merthyr Tydfil.

Caerphilly CastleThe following day saw the group visit Caerphilly Castle, one of the biggest in Europe, before winding their way through the Southern Wales Valleys to the town of Tredegar and the newly restored Bedwellty House.  From there it was a short journey to the village of Six Bells and the impressive sight of the Guardian Mining Memorial.  Next stop was the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre for lunch and a quick tour to find out why the area has been named as a World Heritage Site.

Then it was time for many people's highlight of the day, a tour of the Penderyn Distillery, the only whisky distillery in Wales.  The group had a guided tour of the site where they learned all about the process of making Welsh wysgi before finding themselves in the bar where they could sample some of the finished product.

The group then headed back to Cardiff for their last night in Wales.  We only had a couple of days to show them what we can offer.  We really could have done with a couple of weeks instead.

You can see more images from the trip on our flickr page

Cardiff Goes Back in Time

Re-enactmentCardiff will have a slightly old world feel to it this weekend with two great events.

Cardiff Castle hosts the Grand Medieval Melee.  Take your self back to medieval times as the castle green is transformed into a medieval village as the See the characters go about their daily chores.

Falconry displays, combats and mass battles are all part of the entertainment.  Look out too for the firing of the Castle's mighty trebuchet siege engine.

You can even try your hand at archery and try on some authentic costumes.More information is available on the Cardiff Castle website.

Meanwhile over at the St Fagans National History Museum you can come and meet the villagers as they prepare for the Battle of St Fagans during this 1648 Civil War re-enactment.

Throughout the weekend the museums grounds will be home to a military camp where various skills, trades and crafts can be seen.

You'll be able to meet various people including barber surgeons, cider-makers, weavers and craftspeople will also be on hand to give you an insight into ordinary people's lives during the era.

At the military encampment the soldiers will be gathering for the coming battle. The troops will be happy to show you how the firearms of the period worked - try your strength at handling a 16 foot pike.

Meanwhile over in the Castle you can spy on the party of Royalist officers and local gentlemen planning the campaign, whilst in the make-shift field kitchen, watch the cooks prepare food for the soldiers and view the formal dining of the commissioned officers at dinner time.

Take a look at their website for more information

Outdoor Theatre Festival - Take 2

Everyman Open Air Theatre FestivalJust as the Lord Chamberlein's Men's Midsummer Night's Dream tour of Welsh castles comes to an end the Everyman Theartre company's open air summer theatre festival gets going. 

In the stunning setting of the St Fagans National History Museum on the outskirts of Cardiff the festival will comprise 36 performances of 4 different plays over the course of course of 25 days throughout July.

First held over just 1 week in 1983 the festival has expanded over the years to become one of the biggest in South Wales.

This years performances are:
The Pirates of Penzance by W.S. Gilbert & Sir Arthur Sullivan - July 6-16
Shadwell Opera: Albert Herring by Benjamin Britten - 10 July
The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare - July 20-30
Old King Cole by Ken Campbell - July 23-30

More information is available from the Everyman Theatre Festival website

(Image courtesy of Everyman Theatre Festival)

Visit to Cardiff

Most of my previous blogs have been me telling you wonderful Wales is.  Well that is true but how about seeing it through the eyes of a tourist?  I found this great video of a guy and his father's visit to Cardiff and Caerphilly.  It looks like they had a good time.

Video courtesy of Johnny Jet - www.johnnyjet.com

Christmas at St Fagans

St Fagans Christmas NightsThe National History Museum is one of Wales most popular visitor attractions.  Located in the village of St Fagans, just a couple of miles from Cardiff City Centre, the outdoor museum is home to dozens of buildings brought to the site from every corner of Wales before being re-built brick by brick.  Each building tells the story of Wales from a different era and perspective.  Buildings include a row of ironworkers cottages, a school and even a church.

St Fagans is a wonderful place to visit the whole year round, but is especially atmospheric in the run up to Christmas.  Its Christmas nights events are especially popular.  This year's event runs from 8-10 December and sees the whole site lit up to get you in the festive spirit.

Father Christmas sets up his grotto in front of the roaring log fire in one of the old farmhouses, there's carol singing, brass bands and a chance to experience the ancient Welsh tradition of the Mari Lwyd.  There are also traditional fairground rides, craft stalls and plenty of festive food and drink.

Don't forget to wrap up warm and bring your torch!  Nadolig Llawen

Happy New Year

Llancaiach GhostThis weekend is Calan Gaeaf in Wales.  Translated into English, this means the start of winter and is an ancient celebration to mark the Celtic New Year.  These days the more modern celebration of Halloween is more widely celebrated although this has its roots in the Calan Gaeaf celebrations.

There are plenty of events happening throughout Southern Wales to celebrate Halloween.  St Fagans National History Museum near Cardiff are running a series of ghost tours through their site calling at some of their haunted buildings as you go. 

Meanwhile Tredegar House on the outskirts of Newport is getting all creepy.  Visitors are invited dared to explore the cobwebbed halls and living graveyard.

If you're feeling really brave then you should head for the most haunted house in Wales - Llancaiach Fawr near Caerphilly.  Strange goings-on have been reported throughout the house and grounds.  They're marking Halloween with a Psychic Evening and Ghost Tours

History Comes Alive!

Recently during an office conversation I made a startling revelation to my colleagues, I had never been to St Fagans National History Museum!  Gasps of horror could be heard throughout the office followed by complete disbelief.  Having lived in South Wales all my life I had to admit that I had reached the age of 32 and never been to this well known attraction.

Once the initial shock had subsided the afternoon was filled with stories of people reminiscing about their visits, from school trips to taking their own children to this fantastic place.  Have also admitted that the rest of my family and my own children had been, I felt it was about time that I went to discover this place for myself.  I also couldn't bear the look of disgust from my fellow workers any longer!

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and so I decided that this would be a perfect time to find out what I was missing.  On arrival at the museum I was struck by how unlike a museum it was.  There were coach loads of people milling around the entrance which houses the coffee shop and souvenir shop, no hushed voices just people enjoying themselves.

Greeted by the friendly front of house staff I was equally surprised to learn that entrance is free.

100_5187I was kindly accompanied by a St Fagans veteran, who having mocked my lack of knowledge agreed to show me around.  Walking through the open air museum I couldn't believe how much they had to offer.  Now in my 32 years, St Fagans hadn't completely escaped me and I did have some knowledge of what was there although I think it's fair to say that it's only when you visit you get a true sense of how wonderful this place is.  Catering for all ages, there were young families, groups of school children (including a number of international students) as well as older couples and groups all marvelling at the history, the wonderful buildings and the story behind each one.  Over forty original buildings from various historical periods and locations in Wales have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland and with traditional craftsmen still occupying some of the buildings the traditional crafts and activities bring the place alive.

Keeping cool from the summer sun the resident Blacksmith was keen to show us his workshop while the aroma from the Derwen Bake House filled the air.

As well as all this, there is a year round programme of events (including an autumn food festival) and even a working farm, where you'll soon be able to buy some of what they produce.

I couldn't resist the traditional sweet shop and a treat for the office was too tempting to ignore.  Taking the road train whilst tucking into some Sherbert Lemons was the perfect finish to a fabulous day.

I can't believe it's taken me this long to visit this wonderful piece of Welsh history and I certainly won't be waiting too long to return.  it's no wonder it Wales' most visited heritage attraction, and after yesterday they definitely have one more fan.