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Millennium Magic

It's that time of year again.

The eyes of Wales will this weekend be focused on Cardiff as the Six Nations rugby tournament kicks off.

Wales will be looking to repeat their heroics of last year when they won all five of their games to secure their 3rd Grand Slam in seven years.  

There'll be a tremendous atmosphere up and down Wales as the country comes to a stop to watch the game and the streets of Cardiff will be full of rugby fans enjoying the city's legendary match day atmosphere.  There is nowhere in the world better to be than Cardiff on the day of a big match. 

Wales' fixtures in this year's championship are below:

Saturday 2 February - Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Saturday 9 February - France v Wales, Stade de France, Paris
Saturday 23 February - Italy v Wales, Stadio Olympico, Rome
Saturday 9 March - Scotland v Wales, Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Saturday 16 March - Wales v England, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Wales v New Zealand

The big game at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff this Saturday is Wales v New Zealand.

Now, I don't really want to draw attention to the game as it is likely that Wales will loose (and quite possible loose heavily). The reason I'm writing about it is that it gives me a perfect opportunity to play this video - a spine tingling moment from 2008 and Wales refusing to be intimated by New Zealand's Haka.

Six Nations Kick Off

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

The eyes of Wales will this weekend be focused on Dublin as the Six Nations rugby tournament kicks off.

Wales will be looking to repeat their heroics of the World Cup last autumn when they got so close to making it too the final. Along the way they beat Ireland in the quarter final and so the Irish will be out for revenge this time out.

Even though the game is in Dublin, there'll still be a tremendous atmosphere up and down Wales as the country comes to a stop to watch the game.

Then next weekend the action moves to Cardiff as Wales take on Scotland at the Millennium Stadium.

And it doesn't matter whether or not you have a ticket to the game or even like (or understand) rugby there is nowhere in the world better to be than Cardiff on the day of a big match.  With the Millennium Stadium situated right in the centre of the city the streets become full with fans of both teams enjoying the special ambience and taking in the carnival atmosphere.

Wales' fixtures in this year's championship are below:
Sunday 5 February - Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Sunday 12 February - Wales v Scotland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Saturday 25 February - England v Wales, Twickenham, London
Saturday 10 March - Wales v Italy, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Saturday 17 March - Wales v France, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Just 12 reasons?

According to a recent tweet, Visit Britain said there are 12 great reasons to visit Wales.  Great news of course, but I'm sure there are many more. 

Here are 12 of my own suggestions but please feel free to add some of your own below.

Reasons to visit Wales
1. Spectacular Scenery
2. Rugged coastline ( a new 850 mile round Wales coastal path will be opening soon, allowing you to enjoy every inch of it)
3. Friendly people
4. Caerphilly Castle - one of the biggest in Europe
5. St Fagans National History Musueum - a fantastic open air museum
6. The highest mountain in England and Wales (and a train to take you to the top of it)
7. Visit the locations used to film Doctor Who (which as it happens was the subject of a different Visit Britain blog)
8. Three World Heritage Sites
9. Three National Parks
10. Penderyn Distillery, making fantastic Welsh whisky
11. Great surfing beaches including Rest Bay, Porthcawl
12. The magnificent Millennium Stadium, home to our equally magnificent rugby team

Time to Take on the World

So it finally gets underway tomorrow.  And even though it's being held 1000s of miles from Wales, the nation will still be gripped. 

It's the Rugby World Cup and this Sunday morning the eyes of Wales will be on Wellington in New Zealand as we take on South Africa.  Wales will be hoping to go one better than when the tournament was last held in New Zealand when we got to the semi finals (although whisper it quietly, that was all the way back in 1987)

Good luck boys, we'll be hoping to see many more tries like these

The ever changing Millennium Stadium

The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, where on several occasions each year the eyes of the nation turn to follow the fortunes of the national rugby team.

But the stadium is much more than just another sporting arena.  Just a couple of weeks have passed since Wales played the Barbarians in the end of season rugby game.  The stadium quickly underwent a make over to turn it into a massive concert arena for last week's sell out concerts by pop band Take That.  And remarkably, just 10 days later the ever versatile stadium has been transformed into a speedway track for the latest round the world championship FIM Speedway Grand Prix series.  And all this before the rugby pitch is re-laid ready for the Wales v England rugby match on 13 August.

For more information on the Millennium Stadium and its events visit the website

Cardiff - Refreshes the Parts Other Cities Cannot Reach

Cardiff is a city well used to staging major sporting events - Rugby World Cup, FA Cup Final, World Rally Championship and of course the Ryder Cup just up the road in Newport last year.  And this weekend is another big one for our capital city as it hosts rugby's Heineken European Cup final for a record 6th time.

This year's final will Leinster battle it out with Northampton to be crowned the best team in Europe.  Expect a terrific contest full of skill and passion as both teams vie for the game's ultimate honour.

While the action on the pitch will be brutal, out on the streets there will be a carnival atmosphere as fans mingle in the city centre's bars and restaurants and at the first ever European Champions' Village which will be held in the Cardiff Arms Park (next to the Millennium Stadium) on match-day.

The village will have something for everyone; fans can test their rugby skills in the games area, sample the best of Welsh local produce in the food area, have their photo taken with the Heineken Cup trophy or enjoy a beer at the Heineken bar. The Village is open pre-match from midday to 4pm and again post match from 7pm. The entrance is on Westgate street.

You can also catch a glimpse of the trophy as it arrives in the city by helicopter at Cardiff Bay's Roald Dahl Plass before being paraded on an open top bus through the city's streets to the Millennium Stadium in time for the game.

If you're coming to Cardiff for the match don't forget to download the official Cardiff app for your iPhone to help find your around the city and to locate the best restaurants, bars, hotels and attractions.

Base Jumping at the Millennium Stadium

Just found this video of three base jumpers entering the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff before last year's Wales v South Africa rugby match.  What a way to make an entrance although couldn't they just buy a ticket like everyone else. 

If you fancy taking in the action for yourself over the next couple of months, there are a number of mouth watering games coming up (although we can't promise you the base jumpers).

21 May 11 Heineken Cup Final
04 Jun 11 Wales v Barbarians
13 Aug 11 Wales v England
20 Aug 11 Wales v Argentina

6 Nations, Round 2

And so after the disappointment of last week, the eyes of Welsh rugby fans turn this week to Scotland.  The thousands who have made the trip to Edinburgh and indeed those left at home will be hoping for better luck this time. 

This fixture has provided some great moments and some great tries in the past, including the fastest ever try in international rugby (but the least said about that the better as it was scored against Wales). 

And to whet your appetite here are a few classic moments from years gone by.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's the most wonderful time of the year.  After weeks of build up it's finally time for the 2011 Six Nations to kick off.  Wales take on England tonight in the tournament's first game.  There's sure to be an electric atmosphere inside the stadium.

But a Six Nations game is about much more than what happens on the pitch.  A carnival atmosphere sweeps through the city and makes for a great day out even if you're not a rugby fan.

And just to bring you a flavour of the action I've had trawl through hundreds of You Tube clips to find some great action from Wales v England games from years gone by.  It was tough, but someone had to do it.