Tag Archives: Wales

Pop-up & Disappear – First look into Epic Retreats

The first images of Epic Retreats – Wales’ first pop-up boutique hotel – have been revealed and there’s still time to book to become one of the fortunate 200 guests to enjoy the unique, exclusive experience. The eight cabins, which are the focus of a new Channel 4 documentary ‘Cabins in the Wild with Dick Strawbridge’, are all inspired by Welsh legends and will welcome their first guests on June 5.

(I have told you earlier about this. You can read here about ‘Disappearing Hotels of Wales‘.)

Epic Retreats will visit two locations across Wales this summer; Southern Snowdonia from June 5- June 30 and the Llŷn Peninsula from July 10 until September 11. Mid-week guests will also enjoy epic experiences tailored to each location, including private chefs, Welsh music and theatre performances.

Fewer than 200 bookings have been made available for the experience and inspiration for the units includes the legend of King Arthur, the iconic Welsh dragon and the country’s famous industrial heritage. Each boutique cabin includes a double, king size or circular bed, living area with wood burner and hob and en-suite facilities.

(Want to read more about Arthur’s Cave? Click to read about King Arthur Trail.)

All are winning designs, purpose-built for the Epic Retreats project, and chosen through a competitive tender, supported by Visit Wales, which invited architects from across the world to design unique glamping units themed on the mythology, tradition and beauty of Wales. In addition to the eight cabins the ‘hotel’ will also feature a communal area including a fridge for food storage, on-site BBQ and eating area. On arrival guests are provided with a welcome pack containing some of the best produce Wales has to offer, as well as bed linen, hand and bath towels and logs for the wood-burner.

Launched in celebration of Wales’s Year of Legends, Epic Retreats promises to immerse visitors in the most impressive landscapes and adventures the country has to offer. Co-founder of Epic Retreats, Llion Pughe said, “We are excited to finally reveal the eight cabins that make up Epic Retreats. “The unique cabins, complemented by our country’s stunning landscape, make for an unbeatable experience and we look forward to welcoming our first guests this summer who will get to see Wales in a completely unique setting.”

The Epic Retreats project is a partnership between Best of Wales, Cambria Tours and George + Tomos Architects and is part funded by the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund. Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “Epic Retreats and the unique glamping pods, which all have their own story to tell,  will allow people the chance to experience Wales like never before.

“From art hotels and castles to trendy hostels and boutique B&Bs, Wales offers a wide array of varied and exciting accommodation choices.  The addition of our first pop-up glamping accommodation creates additional potential to attract visitors from far and wide to experience our amazing landscape and heritage during our Year of Legends 2017.”

Get closer to the movie with King Arthur Trail

Imagine some supernatural caves, mighty boulders, crumbly castles, sorcery courses and stone circles.

Fit for a king and with the option to leave no stone unturned, a new trail across South West Wales aims to bring to life the mystery that surrounds the story of Britain’s best and bravest knight, the legendary Arthur. Perfectly timed the new Arthur Trail launches just ahead of Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword release (12 May), so the question of whether Arthur was a real Excalibur-wielding man, make-believe, or a bit of both is more pertinent than ever. The new trail showcases the mighty Arthur with Arthurian legend related experiences across the counties of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Swansea Bay and Neath Port Talbot.

Visitors inspired by Charlie Hunnam’s rugged sword wielding Arthur portrayal in the big-screen version of the tale can head off on a quest to see wizard and warrior related sights and sounds (listen for Merlin’s groans on Merlin Hill) using the new trail.

The trail aims to help visitors decide who they think Arthur really was while enjoying the stunning coast and hills of South West Wales. From the boulder he is said to have tossed 11 miles from Llanelli to Gower to his burial place in the Preseli Hills and the supernatural caves near Neath, the trail guides visitors through everything from a day out in one region, to a five night break spread over all four, hunting for clues to Arthur’s existence. For those who just want to indulge in the playful side of Arthur’s tale there are fun attractions – from owl experiences to wizard themed afternoon teas – throughout the four counties.

The trail has been designed so that visitors can cherry-pick sites that interest them most or take in the whole lot on a road trip over a mini-break or longer. There are accommodation suggestions as well as alternatives to Arthur attractions should you get distracted by beautiful scenery, picturesque villages and welcoming pubs and cafes on route.

Time to sit at your round table and plan your trip to Arthur Country. Here are a few highlights to whet your appetite.

Carmarthenshire

Start at the very beginning in the town of Carmarthen, birthplace of Arthur’s wizard Merlin. Carmarthenshire is a great place to lose yourself in legends and even be a sorcerer’s apprentice! Sign up for a magic course inspired by Merlin himself where your teacher will join you in your holiday cottage or hotel for a night of magic. Or take The Creepy Carmarthen Tour for a blast of local history and magic, combining real events from the town’s past with magical experiments in mind-reading and extra sensory perception. Then spend a ‘night’ under the stars at the magical Faerie Thyme Hill campsite with its own mysterious stone circle and giant dream catchers.

 Pembrokeshire

Here the Arthur trail takes in wild headlands, medieval strongholds and hilltop stones. Arthur’s Quoit, on St David’s Head, was said to have been hurled from nearby Carn Llidi by the king and it marks the remains of a single-chambered Neolithic burial chamber that’s up to 6,000 years old. The capstone is about 20ft long and supported by one upright stone and the site can be reached only on foot. Bedd Arthur (or Arthur’s Grave), high on the Preseli ridge on the rocky outcrop of Cerrig Marchogion (the Rocks of the Knights) is also said to mark the spot where the mythical boar Twrch Trwyth slew several of Arthur’s knights and turned them into stone. Base yourself in St David’s and there’s the small Penrhiw Hotel, a short walk from St David’s Cathedral. St Non, mother of St David, patron saint of Wales, was the niece of King Arthur. For accommodation worthy of a king, try the luxurious Roch Castle Hotel, near Haverfordwest.

Port Talbot Neath

Not far from Neath is Craig y Ddinas and legend has it that Arthur and a thousand of his warriors are fast asleep in a hidden cave there! While Margam Country Park, the 850-acre estate, used extensively as a filming location for the Merlin TV series, is steeped in history and natural beauty. There’s a haunted castle here and a whole range of medieval events taking place throughout the year, from archery to knights displays as well as a cute 3 bedroom stone cottage to stay in, with its own secret door into the park.

Swansea Bay

Swansea Bay brings together castles, pubs and hotels all with an Arthurian link. Sitting in the hills of the Gower Peninsula, within handy walking distance of the King Arthur country pub with rooms in Reynoldston, Arthur’s Stone is said to be another pebble that bothered the royal warrior. The disgruntled monarch angrily hurled it all the way from Carmarthenshire to the top of Cefn Bryn, and it magically grew in size on the way! And for something a bit out of the ordinary and in the absence of Merlin to teach us survival skills, join Dryad Bushcraft for an introduction to bushcraft course where you’ll learn how to think like a survivor, set traps, forage wild food and shelter build all in the wilds of Gower!

Fit for a King Accommodation – How to book it!

Those embarking on a full tour can opt to spend 2 nights in Port Talbot Neath and 2nights Pembrokeshire or straddle a stay over Swansea Bay and Carmarthenshire. Two miles from Port Talbot down a country lane enjoy a quiet cottage base within the grounds of Margam Park at Ivy Cottage (2 nights from £535, sleeps up to 5 –www.holidaycottages.co.uk/wales/south-wales/ivy-cottage-at-margam-country-park), then head west to Pembrokeshire and stay in a luxury castle for two final nights (doubles from £200 a night with breakfast – www.rochcastle.com). This recommended luxury five day trip with two nights at each property would be priced from £467 per person based on two sharing.

Alternatively, live like a legend on Gower for two nights at The King Arthur Hotel (doubles from £80 a night with breakfast – www.kingarthurhotel.co.uk), then head inland to Llety Cynin (doubles from £86 a night with breakfast – www.lletycynin.co.uk), an eight-room converted coach house on a working dairy and sheep farm in St Clears, Carmarthenshire. This recommended luxury five day trip with two nights at each property would be priced from £332 per person based on two sharing.

 

The Disappearing Hotels of Wales

Want to Two hundred fortunate visitors will get a chance to book themselves in hotels which will vanish gradually. These boutique hotels will emerge at three spectacular secret locations across Wales. This unique concept is a part of Welsh Tourism Planner as a part of Welsh 2017 “Year of Legends”.

The concept is a perfect blend of luxury and adventure, where eight bespoke cabins pop-up in unheard of places; in a mystical and epic land of entailing tales which is called Wales. Only a select few will be able to access these privilege sites. The guests will be treated to exclusive Welsh experiences during their stay inspired by their location, ranging from fishing, to beer tasting, to Welsh cuisine prepared by top chefs of the region.

The cabins are specially designed for the project by the most sought after designers of Wales namely, Timber Design Wales & Newcastle Emlyn’s Rural Office for Architecture Ltd. The designs of each cabin are completely unique and speak of the famous legends and rich heritage of Wales.

The themes of these boutiques are meant to resemble various icons of the Welsh history owing, to its different eras. ‘Black hat’ cabin is designed in the fashion of a traditional hat worn by Welsh women. ‘Arthur’s cave’ is yet another theme of this project, probed by the legend of King Arthur and a cave where he and his knights slept while travelling. ‘Miner’s hut’ pays tribute to the revolutionary industrial era of Wales. The ‘Skyhut’ is another such cabin being designed especially for star gazing that does justice to the ‘International Dark Sky’ area of Wales. Some of the other design themes for this project are ‘slate cabin’, ‘cabin in the woods’,’ little dragon’ and ‘dragon’s eye’. The project is a part of Epic Retreats in partnership with Best of Wales, Cambria Tours and George + Tomos Architects partly supported by the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund.

16 weird & wonderful things to do in Wales in 2016

Bodelwyddan Castles
Bodelwyddan Castles

As we enter the new year, Wales celebrates 2016 as Year of Adventure. Let’s se, what could be 16 unique things to do there which will let one discover its own adventure! That makes practically for most of the times in the year. So choose your time, choose your adventure. There are plenty of them-

1. Learn Welsh

Welsh is a Celtic language, and one of the oldest languages in Europe, spoken by an estimated 560,000 people in Wales. Learn some Cymraeg at Nant Gwrtheyrn, a heritage centre on North Wales’ beautiful Llˆyn Peninsula. Gwych! (Excellent!)

2. Visit a castle

There are more than 600 castles in Wales: more per square mile than anywhere else in the world. For fairy tale turrets, head north of Cardiff to 19th-century Castell Coch. Historic Harlech Castle in Cardigan Bay, Mid Wales, saw the longest siege in British history from 1461-1468, while in North Wales, visit opulent neo-Norman Penrhyn Castle and see a one-tonne slate bed that was made for Queen Victoria.

Bounce Below3. Trampoline in a slate mine

At Bounce Below, you can unleash your inner child on giant trampolines, walkways, slides and tunnels made of netting in a 176-year old disused cavern. Intrigued? There’s only one way to satisfy your curiosity.

4. Experiment with seaweed

Laverbread, made from seaweed found clinging to rocks, is a crucial component of ‘the full Welsh breakfast’, along with bacon and cockles. Try the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company’s ‘Welshman’s Caviar’, a dried version they serve in burgers at beachside shack, Café Môr in south-west Wales. For something stronger, sip Dà Mhìle seaweed gin, available at stockists throughout Wales.

Rhossili_Beach
Rhossili_Beach

5. Be dazzled by beauty

The UK’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was the Gower Peninsula in south-west Wales, which marks 60 years as an AONB in 2016. Visit Rhossili Beach, which came third in TripAdvisor’s Top Ten Beaches in the World in 2013 and continues to scoop awards. And, when the tide’s out, walk to Worm’s Head to spot seals and seabirds aplenty.

6. Make an appointment with the Doctor

The Doctor Who Experience at Cardiff Bay, a stone’s throw from BBC studios where the series is filmed, takes visitors on a hair-raising interactive journey through 50 years of adventures in space and time, virtually accompanied by none other than Peter Capaldi as the Time Lord. You can also book to see the genuine TARDIS used in filming.

Walkers on Coast Path near Cwm-yr-Eglwys Pembrokeshire South
Walkers on Coast Path near Cwm-yr-Eglwys Pembrokeshire South

7. Walk this Wales

The first country to offer a dedicated footpath around its coastline, the Wales Coast Path is 870 miles (1,400 km) of varied and beautiful landscape. Add Offa’s Dyke, a path along the Welsh-English border, and you circumnavigate the entire country. Or just dip in wherever you please: the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in south-west Wales is particularly picturesque, or you can spot dolphins from the Ceredigion sections in Mid Wales.

8. Pray for rain

Then be in the right place to enjoy it. Waterfall Country in the Brecon Beacons is especially fun following a downpour. Don’t miss Sgwd Henrhyd, which featured in The Dark Knight Rises as the entrance to the Batcave; walk behind a curtain of water and hear the roar as it thunders down.

9. Don’t sleep; birdwatch

Skomer Island
Skomer Island

Just off the coast of Pembrokeshire, west Wales, Skomer Island is unlike anywhere on earth. Stay there in July and hear the incredible night-time symphony of thousands of Manx shearwater birds returning to the island after hunting. In autumn, watch Atlantic grey seals make their way home to give birth, and coo over cute puffins from May to July. Skomer is an island full of mystery, discovery, wildlife and adventure…it’s a unique island just waiting to be explored! No matter what time of year you visit, the island’s flora and fauna will leave you breathless with excitement and wishing you could stay for longer.

10. Catch some waves inland

The very first of its kind, Surf Snowdonia is an inland lagoon, set in the picture-perfect Conwy Valley in North Wales. Add a two-metre wave peeling over the surface for more than 150 metres and you have a surfers’ dream! Enjoy the thrill of the surf whether you’re a beginner or a hardened wave-junkie; open from spring 2016.

11. Listen to Welshmen

Family on Pier Llandudno, Conwy County
Family on Pier Llandudno, Conwy County

Wales started the trend of singing an anthem before a sporting match – doing so first in 1905 when Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers) was sung at rugby games. The Welsh male voice choir tradition holds strong and there are concerts all over the country throughout the year. Stay at Llangoed Hall, Mid Wales, over Christmas and be treated to carols by the local Male Voice Choir.

12. Race a horse

In 1980, Britain’s smallest town, Llanwrtyd Wells in Mid Wales, decided to stage its first Man vs. Horse contest. Now well known for its regular staging of wacky events and the biennial World Alternative Games, visit in 2016 to take part in Wife Carrying, Bog Snorkelling, Stiletto Racing and more!

13. Cwtch in a cupboard

Cwtch is one of Wales’ favourite words, roughly equivalent to a cuddle (i.e. ‘give us a cwtch’) and also meaning a cupboard or cubbyhole. Which is why it’s doubly fun that you can ‘cwtch in a cwtch’ at Wonderfully Wild’s glamourous lodges in gorgeous Anglesey, north Wales. Sleeping up to six across three bedrooms, the lodges all feature a cosy cupboard in which a double bed is neatly installed!

14. Go to the best book, food, music and… Elvis festival

Couple walking on Wales Coast Path overlooking Dovey estuary Near Aberdovey
Couple walking on Wales Coast Path overlooking Dovey estuary Near Aberdovey

Wales really likes to celebrate, be it writers and great literature at the Hay Festival, Mid Wales, all things edible at the Abergavenny Food Festival, Mid Wales, or music and dancing in fantastical Portmeirion, north Wales, at Festival No. 6. But an event to clear your calendar for has to be the Elvis Festival in Porthcawl, south Wales, an annual celebration of The King – and the biggest of its kind in the world.

15. Tick off 200 listed buildings

Conwy in north Wales is one of the best preserved medieval fortified towns in the whole of Britain, with more than 200 listed buildings that date from the 14th to the 18th centuries including the splendid Conwy Castle. It’s also home to Britain’s smallest house, which measures just 10 ft. x 6 ft. (3.05 m x 1.83 m)!

16. Pronounce this

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch on Anglesey, north Wales, boasts the longest place name in Europe and the second longest in the world. It means ‘Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave’, but most people stick to Llanfairpwll. The longer form is an early example of a publicity stunt – it was invented in the 1860s and has been drawing in visitors ever since.

Get set for a summer in Wales

European Summer is upon us and staycations or easy weekends away are high on the agenda. Wales comes alive during the summer months and is well prepared to excite and entertain with a number of unique festivals, sporting events and interesting new activities.

One can head to the brand new water sports and visitor centre at Llandegfedd Reservoir, explore the amazing underwater world at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre with a new virtual reality experience, view the first Jurassic meat-eating dinosaur ever discovered in Wales at the National Museum in Cardiff and stay at brand new accommodation including Cardigan Castle and the St Brides Spa Hotel apartments. The Welsh summer culminates with the kick-off of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Cardiff in September.

New attractions, breaks and experience

Watersports at Llandegfedd
Watersports at Llandegfedd

A brand new £2.5 million watersports and visitor centre opens at Llandegfedd Reservoir ahead of the summer season

A brand new multi-million pound visitor and watersports centre has opened in the heart of South East Wales ahead of the summer season. Based at Llandegfedd Reservoir, Torfaen, the lake offers water based activities including team building, windsurfing, dinghy sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, raft building, angling and sailing for all ages, as well as six miles of scenic footpaths. The protection of the rich local wildlife has also taken centre stage, with the entire site being designated a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’. Following an afternoon on the lake, visitors can retire to the stylish restaurant offering a variety of home-cooked meals and snacks. Better still, all equipment is available to hire.

Virtual reality at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre launched this July

Marine Wildlife Centre
Marine Wildlife Centre

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales is leading the way in innovative visitor experiences with their latest virtual reality attraction. This summer, visitors are being invited to the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay to explore the amazing underwater world without even getting wet. Cardigan Bay Sea Quest is a 360 degree virtual reality experience using the very latest Oculus Rift technology, an exciting activity which launched on Saturday 11 July. The aim of the game is to explore, locate and photograph 20 marine mission items before the tank runs out of air, allowing users to get up close to a basking shark, friendly bottlenose dolphins and other rare wildlife.

Discover how salt is made on a tour of Tŷ Halen – Halen Môn’s brand new visitor centre

Tŷ Halen - Halen Môn’s brand new visitor centre
Tŷ Halen – Halen Môn’s brand new visitor centre

Tŷ Halen is a unique £1.25 million bespoke building and the new home of Halen Môn Sea Salt. Halen Môn Sea Salt is enjoyed around the world by chefs, food lovers and even the odd US president. It has been served at the London 2012 Olympics, political summits and royal weddings and is a vital ingredient in Green & Blacks chocolate and Piper’s crisps. Furthermore, Halen Môn supplies Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Harvey Nichols as well as some of the world’s top restaurants, including The Fat Duck. Guests can enjoy tours around TŶ Halen, which offers hugely interesting perspective on salt’s place in Welsh history, culture and food, and in what makes Halen Môn Sea Salt so special. All tours include a tutored salt tasting and last approximately 50 minutes.

View the first Jurassic meat-eating dinosaur ever discovered in Wales at the National Museum in Cardiff

National Museum in Cardiff
National Museum in Cardiff

A fantastic new discovery has been made near Cardiff – the first Jurassic meat-eating dinosaur ever found in Wales. This new Welsh dinosaur is now on display at National Museum in Cardiff until 6 September 2015. This fascinating fossil of a theropod dinosaur was uncovered by two brothers on a beach near Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan. It is thought that this new Welsh dinosaur was a distant cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex and lived at the very earliest part of the Jurassic period, 201 million years ago, possibly making it the oldest Jurassic dinosaur in the world.

Stay at a brand new luxury village apartment at the St Brides Spa Hotel

St Brides Spa Hotel- looking-up-from-harbour
St Brides Spa Hotel- looking-up-from-harbour

A luxurious new collection of modern self-catering apartments have opened in the heart of Saundersfoot village in Pembrokeshire, just minutes from the beach and around the corner from the St Brides Spa Hotel. The St Brides Village Apartments offer the same high standard as the hotel, but have been designed for those who may require a longer stay and therefore prefer extra living space and self-catering facilities – the perfect option for families. Each apartment includes a dishwasher, washer/dryer, hob, microwave and fridge/freezer for guests’ convenience, with high speed wi-fi and Netflix provided as standard. The two bedroom apartments are available from £200 per night and one bedroom apartments from £100 per night.

The newly reopened Cardigan Castle launches luxury accommodation this Summer

Cardigan Castle
Cardigan Castle

The newly reopened Cardigan Castle this month launches luxury accommodation. High-end meets heritage in the new B&B and self-catering apartments, located in the Georgian east wing of the Castle Green House, set in two acres of grounds. The two self-catering apartments boast a shared private courtyard, perfect for sitting out on a balmy summer night. Guests will be treated to state of the art kitchens and spacious walk-in showers or stylish tubs, along with antique furniture and exclusively designed Welsh woollen throws. The three B&B rooms are located in Ty Castell and include tea and coffee making facilities and organic luxury bath products. Guests will also receive a locally-sourced, traditional Welsh breakfast in the onsite restaurant.  B&B prices start from £90 per room per night and the self-catering cottages are available from £380 per week.

Surf Snowdonia to wave up in August!

WavesSurf Snowdonia, the world’s first ever publicly accessible Wavegarden® surfing lagoon has announced it will open its doors to the public on Saturday 1st August, 2015. The one-of-a-kind inland surf facility is being constructed at the village of Dolgarrog, in the Conwy Valley, North Wales.

 The announcement of the summer 2015 launch follows an ambitious 13-month construction schedule which saw the first spade go in to the ground in June 2014. Construction will be complete in the next few weeks, with a testing period to follow in July ahead of the public launch.

The globally anticipated inland surf facility will use revolutionary technology to deliver the longest man-made surfable waves on the planet. The consistent and perfectly formed barrelling waves will be variously 2m, 1.2m and 70cm high, and will peel for up to 150 metres. The waves will be generated – at the push of a button – at a rate of one every minute. Up to 52 surfers will be able to use the 300m lagoon simultaneously.

WavegardenAndy Ainscough, operations director of Conwy Adventure Leisure, the company who are building Surf Snowdonia, said: “This is a huge day for all of us who have worked so hard on the construction scheme over the last thirteen months. We’re absolutely delighted that we’ve managed to stay on schedule for our summer launch.

“This is a world-first engineering project which has required the close collaboration of multi agencies and contractors. It’s testament to the skill and dedication of all our partners and consultants that we’ve managed to deliver such a successful project.”

Surf Snowdonia has been built on the site of a former aluminium factory which went into liquidation in 2007. It was acquired by Ainscough Strategic Land in 2012, with a view to develop it for leisure use. The vision to develop it as the world’s first Wavegarden surf facility started to take shape in October 2012, when the company Conwy Adventure Leisure Limited was formed. 

image001Since then, the site has undergone a major transformation. Over 100 years’ of heavy industrial waste has been removed, and 400 tonnes of steel, cast iron and copper have been recycled. Around 25,000 cubic metres of hardcore has also been recycled, with 85% of the stone used in the new construction sourced from the original site. The surf facility will be filled with rainwater taken from neighbouring mountain reservoirs.

Surf Snowdonia will also feature retail, restaurant and café areas as well as a 50 metre glass-fronted viewing gallery. Entrance to the ‘dry’ facilities in the park will be free. The £12 million facility will create over 60 direct jobs, additionally sustaining around 100 jobs in the supply chain. It is conservatively expecting in excess of 75,000 visitors per year.

Travel extravaganzas for Wales next month!

The coming months in Wales prove that there always is something to do at all times and for all people. So here is a list of events, which will surely leave you wanting more.

Machynlleth Comedy Festival : 01 – 03 May

540074_10151065127760312_1781724956_nNow in its sixth year, the Machynlleth Comedy Festival has quickly gained a reputation as a hidden gem, this year featuring as-seen-on-TV comedy acts such as Stewart Lee. Other acts in the star-studded line-up include Bec Hill and Alex Horne. The town is known for its quirky venues, which helps to make it popular with both the acts and audience alike.

IMAG0308Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza : 02 – 04 May

Over the May bank holiday weekend Llandudno will be packed full of Steam Engines and Victorian Musical Organs, Vintage Cars and Costumes, Curiosities & Sideshows, and people dressed as they were back in the Victorian days. This year’s entertainment includes The George Formby Entertainers, Absolute Magic Jay Gatling, HTC Entertainers, Mr Alexander’s Travelling Show and Voltini’s slideshow.

IMG_3904All Wales Boat Show : 08 – 10 May

The show, now in its fourth year, is a three day celebratory festival of all water-based activities and is unique to the region of Pwllheli on the stunning Llŷn Peninsula. You will discover a huge range of exhibitors, show events and activities where you can have a go too. It’s a must visit for any boat owner, water-sports lover or family looking for a great day out.

Dylan Day : 14 May

To build upon the legacy of the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival,  Dylan Day was created. A new annual day of celebration in the name of Wales’ most famous literary son. It marks the date Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at The Poetry Centre in New York in 1953. The first year’s activity will centre on the publication of A Dylan Odyssey, a book featuring fifteen unique Dylan Thomas trails across Wales, London, Oxford and New York.

DSCF8871_a_4x3Welsh Highland Railway’s Rail Ale : 15 – 17 May

The Welsh Highland Railway Society’s eleventh Real Ale Festival, Rail Ale, will comprise an eclectic mix of a fine selection of real ales and ciders, even a beer specially brewed for the event by a local microbrewery, combined with a variety of music, fine food and of course steam hauled trains. There will be the usual wide selection of real ales from Wales, Welsh cider and perry, and even a Welsh-brewed lager available at the festival’s main site at Dinas.

Snowdonia Slateman Triathlon : 16 – 17 May

This trail triathlon is said to have achieved cult status in the four years it has been running, due to its excellent route and stunning views. There are two race options delivered over two days; the Full Slateman and the Slateman Sprint. brand new for 2015 is the Slateman Savage for those who are tough enough to tackle the whole Slateman weekend by completing the Sprint AND the Full. The race venue is the village of Llanberis at the foot of Snowdon which will also include the Anglesey Sandman Tri and Snowman Winter Tri.

Best_national_parks_CAN80.pullout.brecon_beaconsHay Festival : 21 – 31 May

The Hay Festival in Wales is a gathering in the staggering beauty of the Brecon Beacons National Park, which has brought together writers from around the world to debate and share stories. The Hay festival, founded in 1987, celebrates the written word attracting all types of writers from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, filmmakers, novelists, politicians, environmentalists and musicians to inspire, delight and entertain.

Welsh Perry and Cider Festival : 22 – 25 May

Now in its 14th year the Welsh Perry and Cider Festival returns for the third year at Caldicot Castle. The festival starts on Friday evening and ends on Monday with a day aimed at families, offering lots of fun and games.  There will be live music and entertainment all weekend, and a huge selection of cider and perry to try.

Open Stoneskimming Championships : 24 May

Why not have a go and see how far you can bounce your stone across the water. There will be other stone themed events too, which should provide a cracking day-out in the heart of the Welsh Countryside, and the afternoon will also feature a “head to head” contest between Ron Long, the current British “Old Tosser” Champion, and Dougie Isaacs, the current World Champion.

4042681Urdd National Eisteddfod : 25 – 30 May

This year’s Urdd National Eisteddfod will take place in Caerphilly.  The Urdd National Eisteddfod is one of Europe’s largest youth touring festivals that attracts around 100,000 visitors each year. Over 15,000 children and young people will be competing during the Eisteddfod week in various competitions such as singing, dancing and performing. There is plenty of attractions for the whole family at the Eisteddfod from enjoying the competitions, to visiting the various stalls and exhibitors on site.

 

‘Land of song’ has entertaining lineup for the summer

Merthyr Rock 2014Wales is famed for being a ‘land of song’, best known for its choirs and Eisteddfodau, but did you know that many festivals showcasing new and emerging musical talent take place here every year, too? Here’s a roundup of some exciting, unusual and entertaining festivals taking place right here in Wales this summer. With such a wide variety of locations and acts, there really is something for everyone –

Annie-MacX Music Festival will take place in Bute Park, Cardiff from the 12 – 13 June 2015, featuring DJs and Artists such as Annie Mac, Ja Rule, DJ Fresh, Sigma and Redlight.

Merthyr Rock returns to Cyfartha Park, Merthyr Tydfil in August 2015. This year’s line up is yet to be announced, but one can expect internationally recognised acts such as Taking Back Sunday & Real Big Fish, who headlined last year.

image_update_c9e0fbecb7eb08c8_1374471015_9j-4aaqskRadio 1 favourites Foxes and The Vamps are set to headline this year’s Access All Eirias festival at the Eirias Stadium, Colwyn Bay on 7 June, 2015.

 

Color Festival, which Dutch DJ Oliver Helden’s will be headlining, takes place in Splott warehouse, Cardiff on 6 June. It’s sure to be a colourful affair!

imagesMaes B will be showcasing the best of modern Welsh music at the National Eisteddfod in Montgomeryshire and the Marches from 1 -8 August.

Festival Number 6  returns to the beautiful Italian-inspired village of Portmeirion (near Bangor, North Wales) from 3 – 6 September, and welcomes headliners Grace Jones, Belle & Sebastian, DJ Harvey and Mercury Prize winning band, Young Fathers.

Swn-festivalSŵn festival returns as the reimagined ‘one-day’ DimSŵn Festival this year, and will take place on 11 April, 2015 in various venues across Cardiff. 39 bands are now confirmed to play, across 7 stages.

Super Furry Animals, St Vincent, Hot Chip and Courtney Barnett will be performing at the Green Man Festival in the midst of the breathtakingly beautiful Brecon Beacons from 20 – 23 August.

Ten great family adventures in Britain’s countryside

From exploring historic sites to encountering wildlife and following themed trails, Britain’s countryside is one big adventure playground filled with fun for the whole family. Here are ten of the highlights.

Walk on the wild side at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, Wiltshire, west England

Tiger in snowDid you know that Longleat, just 80 minutes by train from London, was the first safari park outside Africa? One of Britain’s top animal attractions for more than 40 years, this country estate is home to more than 100 species – from monkeys to meerkats, lions to lorikeets and wildebeest to warthogs. Take a Jungle Cruise past the Gorilla Colony, witness the fastest animal on land in the drive-through Cheetah Kingdom, and feed the giraffes in the African Village. Visitors can also brush up on British history at Longleat House.

Feed the red kites at Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre, Ceredigion, west Wales

Help conserve the national bird of Wales, the red kite, by joining a daily feeding session at the Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre in Ceredigion. Three hours by train from Birmingham, this expanse of woodland also features gentle walking trails. Kite-feeding sessions are free. Nearby, the National Showcaves Centre for Wales offers great value, with entry to ten attractions with one ticket.

Step back in time at Housesteads Roman Fort, Northumberland, north-east England 

View along Hadrian's Wall towards sunrise near Housesteads Fort in Northumberland
View along Hadrian’s Wall towards sunrise near Housesteads Fort in Northumberland

Situated in one of Britain’s most historic locations – Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site – Housesteads Roman Fort is just over two hours’ drive from Edinburgh. In this dramatic hilltop setting with panoramic views, visitors can explore the remains of the centurions’ barracks – including the oldest toilets in Britain. The recently reopened museum houses a collection of Roman artefacts and uses 3-D models, film and illustrations to bring the past to life.

Test your agility at iSurvive, Cheshire, north-west England

Kids and adults alike will love the scramble nets, rope swings, tunnels and climbing frames on the Confidence Course at iSurvive in the Chester Lakes, a one-hour drive from Manchester. Take the fresh-air fitness challenge: jump ditches and overcome obstacles on this one-kilometre route through the woods. Suitable for children from seven years old.

Explore Sherwood Forest on two wheels, Nottinghamshire, central England

Sports & RecreationThree hours from London by train is Sherwood Forest Country Park, the largest area of woodland in the east Midlands. Hire bikes at the visitor centre and choose from the two family routes through this historic forest park, once the domain of the mythical Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Its 3,300 acres are also home to Robin Hood’s hideout and adventure playgrounds.

Hug a hedgehog in Powys, Wales

Good Day Out organises a range of fun, educational activities that raise money for local causes such as wildlife sanctuaries and rescue centres. Spend a morning at Howey Hedgehog Sanctuary, a 90-minute drive from Cardiff, where you will clean, feed, bathe – and even exercise – orphaned hoglets (hedgehog babies). Hedgehog Helper Mornings take place on dates throughout spring.

Design your own tourist trail, Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Palm House in Belfast Botanical Gardens is a 19th century cast iron and glass glasshouse which houses tropical and rare plants collected from all over the world.
The Palm House in Belfast Botanical Gardens is a 19th century cast iron and glass glasshouse which houses tropical and rare plants collected from all over the world.

What better way to travel than at your own pace? Pick up a Bunk Camper in Belfast, pack in the family and set off to explore the rugged coastline of Northern Ireland. Stop where you choose and wake up to stunning views. Bunk Campers come fully equipped with gas hobs, sinks, dining area, cooking utensils, beds, heating and electricity and showers/toilets in some vehicles.

Discover the dinosaur capital of Britain, the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England

A short ferry ride from Portsmouth, just 90 minutes from London by train, will bring you to the Isle of Wight, the best place in Europe to follow in the footsteps of the dinosaurs that once ruled the Earth. Named by London’s eminent Natural History Museum as Britain’s ‘Dinosaur Capital’, this island offers opportunities for visitors to try hunting for fossils along its sandy beaches themselves, or to join an organised tour led by an expert who will identify any discoveries.

Experience unspoilt natural beauty, Argyll Forest Park, western Scotland

The Airds, Argyll and Bute, West coast of Scotland
The Airds, Argyll and Bute, West coast of Scotland

Book a short break with Forest Holidays in Argyll, just 45 minutes’ drive from Glasgow, and you’ll be on the doorstep of 720 square miles of lochs, mountains and forests. In the heart of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, its new timber and glass cabins (most with outdoor hot tubs) offer breathtaking views of Loch Long and the Arrochar Alps. Family-friendly activities include mountain biking, archery, canoeing, rock climbing, gorge walking and Forest Ranger-led walks.

Take to the treetops in the rainforest canopy, Cornwall, south-west England

In our most southerly county, four hours by train from London, is one of Britain’s top attractions. The Eden Project’s two huge adjoining domes house thousands of plant species. The world’s largest rainforest in captivity features steamy jungles and waterfalls and a fully accessible Rainforest Aerial Walkway, with amazing views across the Rainforest Biome.

World’s Biggest Underground Trampoline in Snowdonia

Bounce Below 3A huge slate cavern in North Wales has been installed with the world’s biggest underground trampoline to offer unique and fun-filled adventures, set to open on 4th July. This giant underground playground is the first of its kind in the world. Bounce Below brings trampolining to a new terrain. Unlike anything seen before, three huge trampolines are hung in the old slate cavern at varying levels, linked together by 60 ft slides.

Visitors are taken to the impressive 100 x 60 foot cavern by an old mining train and kitted out in special overalls and a helmet before being let loose in the caves to bounce, climb and slide in the most unique setting. The walls are kitted out with techni coloured lights which illuminate the subterranean background with vibrant colours.

Bounce Below 2The LEDs also reveal the beauty of the underground cavern, which was dug out by hand for 4500 hours to remove 500 tons of rubble in a process akin to the slate mining that took place there. Bounce Below is part of the Zip World group that won international acclaim last March when they installed a pair of mile’8 long zip lines at Zip World Velocity, that sees riders fly through the skies at over 100mph, 500ft in the air.

Bound Below 5Bounce Below is located at the world’s largest zip lining zone, Zip World Titan site, near the historic town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, the adventure attraction is set to help breathe new life into an ex-mining town that has suffered from unemployment in recent years. Local entrepreneur, Sean Taylor, wanted to help bring more visitors to the area by creating something you can only find in Wales. At the site is the Slate Caverns which offers tours 500 feet underground to discover the dangerous mining past of these mysterious 170 year old caverns. A new ‘Deep Mine’ tour was unveiled in April 2014 including caverns which had not been seen for decades.

The partnership of these top attractions creates an unrivalled combination of adventure and cultural tourism for visitors. Bounce Below opens on 4th July 2014 and introductory rate for tickets cost £15 per person.