Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Archive for tag: Winter

Downhill Drama

New mountain bike for Christmas? Then you'll obviously want to hurtle down a mountain at full speed to try it out won't you?

Luckily for you, we've got the Mynydd at Cwmcarn Forest near Caerphilly. A fearsome downhill track that fully tests the most experienced riders (and scares the rest of us).

Taking the steep drops, tight turns and huge jumps at break-neck speeds seems to be impossible. Yet they do and that is why this is considered to be one to the best tracks in the country by mountain biking enthusiasts.  It has been rated as a Black track, which means it is officially classed as severe and should only be tackled by experienced riders.

You daren't take your eyes off the track, which is a shame as the views from the top are stunning.

The Mountain Biking Wales website describes it as"a track which offers steep technical sections, a very fast open section near the bottom, jumps, drops, berms, infact probably one of the biggest berms you'll ever see, as well as some doubles and even a massive gap jump if you want to try it."

The Christmas Pudding Run

This 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.  The 'Dipping Bridge' was built in the 15th century, the holes in the sides allowed farmers to push their sheep into the River Ogmore for a seasonal dip!

Just down the lane lie the remains of Candleston Castle, once a 15th century fortified mansion house, whilst nearby Ogmore Castle is probably the most picturesque castle in Wales.

Just beyond the castle is one of the biggest sand dune systems in Europe.  It once 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.

Every year, just before Christmas, hundreds of amateur athletes descend on the village for the annual Christmas Pudding Run.

The race is a challenging multi-terrain, six mile run that winds its way through the sand dune system.  The route starts with an ascent of the highest single sand dune in Europe - the fearsome Big Dipper. 

But it doesn't end there, the race then continues with even more climbs, over rough moorland and through several streams before eventually the runners get to the finish line.

And the prize for completing this gruelling course……a Christmas pudding of course!

Christmas in Caerphilly

Caerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre
Caerphilly
7 - 8 December 2013

Caerphilly ChristmasCaerphilly'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.

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 or see what other events are on in the area this Christmas by clicking here

Christmas Countdown

With Christmas fast approaching we continue our look ahead to some of the festive delights that are coming up over the next couple of weeks.  This week, it's Bridgend's Elfsteddfod.

What started as an attempt to break New York's World Record World Record for the number of elves gathered in one place in 2010, has grown every year since.  So much so that it continually breaks its own World Record every year.

The record, if you don't know, is for the largest gathering of elves in one place.  That place is Bridgend.  They currently hold the record with 1216 of Santa's little helpers cramming in to the town centre last year.  This year, the organisers are hoping to go (at least) one better and break the record for the 4th consecutive year.

And you can take part too.  Simply turn up in Bridgend Town Centre on Saturday 14 December and collect your official elf hat from the organisers and you'll become part of the record attempt.

For more information visit the website

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

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

Wales, Dwynwen and an E-lovespoon



I saw a very good tweet this morning from @marcwebber (re-tweeted by @trutourism).  It read:

Expensive business being a Welshman. We have TWO Valentines days to shell out for! (25th Jan & 14 Feb)


Yes, that's right, as well as the more widely known St Valentine's Day, we also have our own, traditional day to celebrate - Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen (or St Dwynwen's Day if you prefer), and it is celebrated this Friday (25 January)

The history of St Dwynwen and how this day came to be celebrated is told on the Museum Wales website.

If you're looking for an ideal gift to give someone special then how about a traditional Welsh lovespoon.

Traditionally the wooden spoon was given by a man to a lady as a token of his affection.  He would carve the spoon from a single piece of wood and was considered an early form of an engagement ring.  The spoon usually contained a number of symbols which all had different meanings, including a horseshoe for luck, bells for marriage, hearts for love and a lock for security.  Caged balls are said to indicate the number of children the couple would have.

The tradition continues today, although we're more likely to cheat and buy the spoons from a craft shop rather than make them ourselves.  Of course, being in the technological age, you can even make and send an e-lovespoon.

More information on Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen and the Top 10 romantic things to do in Wales can be found on the Visit Wales blog

A Victorian Christmas

Event - A Victorian Christmas
Location - Bryngarw Country Park, Bridgend
Date - 15 - 16 December 2012

Website




Join in with the festivities this Christmas in the picturesque surroundings of Bryngarw Country Park.  The Victorian themed event will feature lots of entertainment for all the family.

Have a go and the fairground rides or try your hand at some of the traditional fun and games.    There'll also be a chance to browse stalls full of local crafts and food as well as hot chestnuts, toasted marshmallows, mulled wine and mince pies.

And of course there'll be an appearance from the man himself - Father Christmas.

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

Christmas in Southern Wales

What a great video from last year's Winter Wonderland in Cardiff. It was taken from the top of the Star Ride. The amazing 60m ride towers above the ice rink and other fairground riders below and gives an amazing view of Cardiff - just as long as you don't mind heights.

For details of other Christmas events happening in Southern Wales then please click here.