When you think of Cardiff as a city you may typically associate it with patriotic red dragons, long-standing castles, fine architecture or, more infamously the renound chippy lane after a night out at Wednesday Retro’s (AKA Caroline Street). However, it cannot be denied that Wales’ capital is a Cultural hub here are some of the best cultural venues in Cardiff.
Cardiff National Museum and Art Gallery by Sadia Pineda Hameed
Get cultured by barely leaving the steps of the Student Union at Cardiff National Museum and Art Gallery. Admission is free to this venue showcasing both a multitude of history and art exhibits. Downstairs, the history section of the museum specialises in the natural world and predominantly looks at the history of the ever popular dinosaur, featuring slightly terrifying animatronics. The gallery section then takes up the entire upper floor, housing a vast array of art including works by Rodin, Monet, Van Gogh and Cézanne. With so much to see, repeat visits are recommended, but this shouldn’t be a problem as the venue is about a two minute walk from the Student Union. Cardiff National Museum and Art Gallery also hosts thought-provoking and free temporary exhibitions such as ‘Fragile?’, which questions the breakability of art during the process of creating it. With many varied exhibitions throughout the year, there will always be something new to see. If you ever have a free hour between lectures or seminars, then Cardiff National Museum and Art Gallery is definitely worth wandering into.
Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) by Haley Dolby
Wales Millennium Centre is located in Cardiff Bay and is Wales’ national home for performing arts. The theatre stages musicals, opera, ballet, circus’ and contemporary dance but also offers a variety of free performances and at least sixty under thirties tickets reduced to five pounds at each welsh national opera performance. The design of the centre was intended to be unmistakably welsh and internationally outstanding, which has been achieved through a combination of the materials used to construct the centre, each having been specifically chosen to connect to Wales’ culture, landscape and history, and the famous bilingual inscription – “Creu Gwir Fel Gwydr o Ffwrnais Awen. In These Stones Horizons Sing”. The inscription was written by Gwyneth Lewis, the 2005 inaugural National Poet of Wales, and translates to “creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration”. The performances themselves are certainly inspirational, and make the arts accessible to many who might not have otherwise had the opportunity. Therefore it is unsurprising that the centre has become Wales’ premier visitor’s attraction, totalling an average of one point five million visitors a year and has been described by Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber as “The best theatre built in the world in the last fifty years”.
Glee Club, Cardiff Bay by George Caulton
If you fancy doing something slightly different, then why not go to the epicentre of comedy and music and visit Glee Club on Cardiff Bay. For cheap tickets ranging between £5-£7 and a night that will have you in stitches, the comedy carousel showing provides high quality entertainment from a range of both local and famous comedians in order to make your evening memorable. If audience participation is your kind of thing, then Thursday’s comedy night isn’t one to ignore and guarantees you to crack a smile, if not erupt in hysterical laughter. Previous comedians to perform here include the hilarious Paul Chowdhry, Rob Beckett and Andy Parsons who are all set to perform again before autumn semester ends. Do something different and go to glee club!
Chapter Arts Centre by George Caulton
Although Chapter arts centre isn’t located in the heart of the city centre, the venue is undeniably one of the most student friendly and most artistically dynamic culture hubs in Cardiff. With free performances of an exceptional standard for students all year round, there is something for everyone to get their teeth into.
Chapter arts has recently created a free student membership consisting of concessionary prices on theatre and cinema tickets, 10% off in the Chapter café and bar and advance/priority booking to name just a few of the benefits that Chapter offers for students. Last issue, Quench Culture reviewed the fantastic exhibition, Richard Woods: Inclosure Acts and there are many more opportunities to view outstanding artwork throughout the year including ‘Experimentica’ (4th-8th of November).
The New Theatre by George Caulton
“God bless this house. May it be the nurse, the feeder and the moulder of the Soul of Cardiff”. This statement, was made by Herbert Beerbohm Tree after the opening performance at the New Theatre in December 1906. Since then, the theatre has become an absolute triumph and one of Cardiff’s cultural gems that displays amateur dramatic productions and West End touring performances on the long standing stage. With a capacity of up to 1,140 seats, the New Theatre cultures people of all ages all year round. Amateur dramatic companies that frequently perform their, include the Orbit Theatre company who awarded the runners up for ‘Best Amateur dramatic group’ in the previous issue’s Quench Awards. Their performances in the past have ranged from all time classic, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to Irving Berlin’s renound ‘White Christmas’ and have never disappointed. Like many other venues in Cardiff, The New Theatre offers £5 tickets for occasional shows such as the recent and extremely successful west end tour of ‘The Woman in Black’. The New Theatre is situated only a few feet away from the Student Union and simply cannot be missed in the several years of your time at Cardiff.
The Abacus by George Caulton
Hidden on the side of Wood Street, The Abacus has been witnessed by many as a place to explore, practice and develop individual ideas circulating around Culture. Whether this be young, aspiring musicians, creative thinkers or artists The Abacus provides an insight to Culture by providing a platform where by festivals, exhibitions, events and lectures take place to open your mind to different insights and interpretations; in short, a cultural enthusiasts dream.
Sherman Theatre/ Sherman Cymru by Kalika Puri
The Sherman Theatre, found literally on the back doorstep of the Student’s Union, possesses a wealth of cultural experience. Whether its plays, laughs, debate or dance you are looking for, the Sherman is the place for you. With various shows on throughout the year at discounted prices for students, a massive variety of performances are available. Previous shows include Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage, the emotional story of the Welsh born and bred rugby player Gareth Thomas and his struggle with his sexuality and his sport; Iphigenia in Splott, the retelling of a Greek myth with significant political, moral and social connotations in the modern day; Mermaid, the fantastical adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Also on offer is live comedy, Welsh language plays for those who wish to truly integrate into Welsh culture, hip-hop martial arts dance shows (The Five and the Prophecy of Prana) – the Sherman even hosted a Welsh Leader’s Debate broadcast live on the BBC during the election lead up! With The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to look forward to in December, this versatile venue with its artistic lighting in the atrium, café and bar keeps patrons refreshed and is definitely worth a visit.
Martin Tinney Gallery by George Caulton
Located right by Salisbury Road and Senghennydd Court, the Martin Tinney gallery hosts a multitude of exhibitions and different forms of art work. This gallery is dissimilar and unique to many opposing galleries in Cardiff due to it being a celebration of twentieth century and contemporary Wales-based artists, granting the Martin Tinney Gallery a slight edge. The artwork displayed ranges from leading Welsh artists to innovative, aspiring artists who challenge traditional modes of art. With a friendly and laid back atmosphere upon arrival, the gallery is surely not one to be overlooked.
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) by Amy Butler
Cardiff is also the proud home of The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama – this city’s answer to the Mountviews and LAMDA’s of London. With its mere 600 students dwarfed by Cardiff’s 30,000, their campus site within the grounds of Cardiff Castle makes up for any lack of new faces. The students can experience the culture of the city before they even begin their enrolment.
They certainly don’t have it easy however, with long hours and demanding schedules that go way beyond lectures. They put on over 300 live performances a year, anything from Brass Band concerts to thought-provoking theatre. Students get the privilege of cheaper entry to these performances but most importantly get the privilege of attending this university in the cultural hub of Wales. With Wales Millennium Centre an iconic cultural landmark providing inspiration and the bustling city filled with quirky music venues, the students of The Royal Welsh College get a cultural university in an even more cultural city.
St David’s Hall by Sophie Rees
Sitting right at the heart of Cardiff’s city centre is one of the top cultural venues in Wales, supplying the public with a high calibre of performances for over thirty years. Saint David’s Hall has long been a well valued asset of the capital city and its many levels of sophistication have become home to some of the top cultural events in Cardiff. For graduates, St David’s Hall has provided an unforgettable venue as it holds the presentations of our graduates providing a fantastic atmosphere. Other major events include the exceptional Welsh Proms, concerts from our county orchestras and bands, as well as large production plays and some unique and quirky entertainment. In regards to student discounts, Saint David’s student tickets are available at half price for orchestral concerts- these are sincerely not performances not to be missed!