A foodie tour of Wales

When asked what Wales means to them, many people talk about the stunning landscapes and the unspoilt beauty of the great outdoors, or perhaps of the warm Welsh welcome and friendly nature of the people who live here. Others, however, will wax lyrical about the amazing food that is produced and sold in Wales, and that’s the topic of today’s blog post, as we showcase some of the best places to visit in Wales if you’re a real foodie.

Abergavenny Food Festival

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vitaminj/

Where better to start a foodie tour of Wales than in Abergavenny? Just a short trip over the Severn Bridge, Abergavenny plays host to an incredibly popular food festival each year in September. The festival spreads throughout the town and involves guest speakers, cookery demonstrations and tasting sessions, with plenty of opportunities to buy some superb produce to take home with you. Abergavenny is also well worth a visit at any other time of the year, and the town’s boutique stores, delis, butchers and grocers will please foodie tourists year-round.

It may come as a surprise to some, but Wales is actually something of a hotspot for artisan cheese-making, and any foodie visitors should make sure that they sample some of the best Welsh cheeses during their stay. Caerphilly is perhaps the most well-known of the Welsh cheeses, and was originally produced for the miners of the South Wales valleys. Today, only a few artisan producers of Caerphilly cheese remain, including the award-winning Caws Cenarth, based in Boncath. Whilst many of the great cheesemakers of Wales aren’t able to receive visitors to their premises, it’s easy to find their cheeses for sale across Wales. If you’re visiting Cardiff, be sure to track down Madame Fromage or The Welsh Cheese Company, two incredible cheese shops where you will be assured of tastebud-tickling delights.`

If you’re holidaying in North Wales, make a point of visiting the farm shop at the Rhug Estate. The 12,000 acre estate produces organic beef, lamb and pork, which are all available to buy in the stunning farm shop. As well as home-grown produce, the farm shop stocks a carefully selected range of premium and organic produce from across Wales. There’s also a fabulous restaurant, so you can enjoy the delights of the Rhug Estate right there and then, with a hearty breakfast, a delicious lunch or afternoon tea.

Our next suggestion for your foodie tour of Wales may come as a bit of a shock. Close to the stunningly beautiful, pocket-sized city of St. Davids in Pembrokeshire, Grub Kitchen hints in its name at what might be on the menu. Yes, that’s right – this is an entomophagic restaurant – which, for the uninitiated, means that insects are used throughout the menu. From cricket blinis served with crispy seaweed, to a signature ‘bug burger’ that includes crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers, dining at Grub Kitchen is guaranteed to be a little out of the ordinary. For the faint-hearted, there are dishes that don’t contain any insects, but we think it’s definitely worth trying, even if you just stick to the bug ‘taster board’. A recent tweet shown below gives an idea of what’s on offer:

We’ve barely scratched the surface on what Wales has to offer for food-lovers and fans of artisan produce, and we’ll be sure to share more great foodie ideas over on Twitter and Facebook in the coming weeks. If we’ve inspired you to come and hunt out some amazing food experiences, why not check our accommodation finder, to select the perfect getaway location?

Exploring Cardigan Bay

Cardigan bayFrom Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire right up to Bardsey Island in the north, the huge bite-shaped Cardigan Bay is the largest bay in the UK. The bay itself is rich with marine life and seabirds, and onshore, there are pretty towns and villages along the entire length of the bay, and the Wales Coast Path links them all up in one scenic route. In today’s blog post, we take a look at just a few of Cardigan Bay’s highlights, from wildlife hotspots to foodie destinations.

First up on our list of top Cardigan Bay destinations is Cardigan itself. The county town of Ceredigion sits on the River Teifi, and is a charming market town filled with independent shops and foodie hotspots. Don’t miss the old-fashioned sweet shop on the high street or the Guildhall market, and if you have time for a detour just out of town, be sure to visit the Welsh Wildlife Centre, where Asian Water Buffalo graze during the summer months.

Just 20 miles up the coast is our next stop, New Quay. This steeply winding town was once home to Dylan Thomas, and is said to be the inspiration for Thomas’s Under Milk Wood. There is an interesting Dylan Thomas trail through the town, featuring several locations that were part of the poet’s life, and this makes for an enjoyable stroll, taking in the town, and the beach below, from several angles. New Quay is also a firm favourite for another reason – the chance to spot dolphins and porpoises, as well as seals, as all of these are common visitors. You can, of course, take a boat trip into the bay to spot these beautiful beasts, but if you’re patient, and lucky, you stand a good chance of spotting some from the harbour wall.

Continuing north, Aberaeron is our next port of call. The town is rather unusual in that it didn’t really exist before the start of the 19th century. The harbour, and the pretty houses that surround it, were all built from around 1805. Today, the houses are all painted in distinctive colours, making for a picture postcard photo opportunity. Aberaeron is home to possibly one of Wales’s best fish and chip shops, and also to the famous honey ice-cream. Try both – they’re highly recommended!

Moving on up the coast, we come to Aberystwyth. Take a trip up Constitution Hill on the cliff railway, for stunning panoramic views out to sea or stroll along the pier for some good old-fashioned seaside fun. Be sure to stay until dusk, to witness the incredible spectacle of an enormous starling murmuration around the pier.

Barmouth

North of Aberaeron, Cardigan Bay continues to deliver stunning beach after stunning beach. Borth is well worth a visit, to see the ancient submerged forest which is visible at low tide, and Barmouth, on the Mawddach Estuary, has stunning views out to sea and mountains behind. Moving onto the Llyn Peninsula, Criccieth and Pwllheli are much loved holiday destinations for people from across the UK.

Whether you are a wildlife lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone who simply likes to sit on the beach and admire the view, Cardigan Bay has plenty to tempt you. Why not take a tour along this amazing coastline on your next Welsh holiday?

Christmas in Cardiff

The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and the temperatures are dropping. This can only mean one thing – Christmas will soon be upon us, once again. For some, that means big family get-togethers and traditional celebrations with friends, but in recent years, more and more people have started to see Christmas as an opportunity to take a much-needed break instead, taking a staycation holiday rather than having the usual Christmas meal at home. In today’s post, we look at why Cardiff is an excellent choice for a Christmas break, and highlight a few things going on there over the Christmas period that are guaranteed to fill you with festive cheer.

Christmas in Cardiff

 

Where to stay in Cardiff over Christmas

 

As Wales’ capital city, Cardiff is well-served with holiday accommodation, offering a huge range of hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses, as well as more quirky choices. For us, Christmas is about spoiling yourself, so we recommend choosing a luxury hotel, where your every whim can be catered for. St. David’s Hotel & Spa sits right on the waterfront of Cardiff Bay, and is perfectly located for exploring the city centre as well as enjoying the many bars and restaurants at Mermaid Quay.

If the modern chic of St. David’s Hotel isn’t quite what you’re looking for, a stay at Miskin Manor Country Hotel might be more appealing. This glorious manor house is set in 22 acres, and looks every inch the grand country house, with period features at every turn.

Miskin Manor Country Hotel

We have lots more holiday accommodation options in Cardiff, so be sure to check these out.

 

What’s on in Cardiff over Christmas

 

Cardiff will once again play host to its Christmas Market, this year. The market opens on November 9th, and runs until December 23rd, with more than 200 craftspeople, producers and makers showcasing their wares throughout one of Cardiff’s principal pedestrianised areas. If you’re taking a break before the Christmas holidays start, the market is the perfect way to get all of your Christmas shopping done in one go, whilst enjoying some fabulous local food and drinks at the same time.

Also launching on November 9th is Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland, where you can skate on an undercover ice rink, sink a pint or two in the bierkeller and enjoy the thrills and fun of the fairground. It’s a magical atmosphere, and great fun for both children and adults alike.

If your winter break in Cardiff takes in New Year’s Day, head along the coast to Barry Island, where thousands of swimmers will take to the water for the annual New Year’s Day Swim. Whether you choose to join the swimmers in the sea, or you simply go along for the spectacle, it promises, as always, to be a fun day out. Whilst Barry Island has been unfairly immortalised as a less than exciting destination, thanks to TV’s Gavin and Stacey, the truth is that Barrybados, as it’s known locally, offers a glorious sandy beach, alongside some good old-fashioned seaside fun at the Pleasure Park.

We’ve only really scratched the surface of what’s on offer in Cardiff over Christmas, and there are plenty of other options, from visiting Cardiff Castle to taking in a first-class show at the theatre. If you don’t want another traditional Christmas at home, watching tired repeats on TV and listening to Aunty Doris snoring on the sofa, ditch that traditional approach and start planning your Christmas holiday in Cardiff! A warm Welsh welcome awaits.

 

 

Holidaying On Anglesey With Your Dog

For many dog-owners, putting their beloved pooch in kennels whilst they take their annual holiday is just not something they’d seriously consider. As many of us see our pets as part of the family, we just can’t bear the thought of them pining away for us, whilst we sit on the beach, enjoying the sunshine and admiring the view. Thankfully, there is an alternative, and that’s to take Fido along with us, for a holiday that everyone can enjoy. If you’re planning a holiday on the beautiful island of Anglesey, and you’re thinking of taking your dog along with you, read on to discover the best dog-friendly beaches there, along with some outstanding pubs where your furry friend will be just as welcome as you are.

Dog friendly beaches on Anglesey

Dog-friendly beaches on Anglesey

With 125 miles of stunning coastline, Anglesey is a beach-lover’s dream destination. Whilst many of the beaches on Anglesey are dog-friendly, it does pay to do some research in advance, to ensure that any beaches you plan to visit allow dog access all year round. Some beaches prohibit dogs from May until October, but allow dogs on the beach at other times, whilst others have no restrictions whatsoever. Also, some dogs find it hard to walk on pebble beaches, so it might be wise to look for sandy beaches, to ensure your dog can enjoy a run on soft, golden sands.

Some of the best dog-friendly beaches on Anglesey include Red Wharf Bay and Traeth Bychan on the east coast of the island, Rhoscolyn Beach in the south, and Cemlyn Bay on the north coast. All of these beaches have car parks, and Rhoscolyn, Traeth Bychan and Red Wharf Bay all have toilets too.

Dog-friendly pubs on Anglesey

Of course, after a day strolling on the beach, playing frisbee with the dog, or pottering through the rock pools, nothing beats a pint and something to eat at a local pub. Again, it pays to do some research before your trip, as not all pubs welcome dogs, especially those that serve food. Luckily, there are still plenty of great places to choose from, where Fido will be more than welcome.

In the Red Wharf Bay area, The Ship Inn is a dog-friendly pub serving traditional pub food. Dog-owners can sit outside to eat if they wish, or use the snug, which is specifically for people with dogs. Over at Rhoscolyn, The White Eagle is the best choice, offering seasonal dishes cooked with the best local produce in a smart, but very dog-friendly, setting. Up by Cemlyn Bay, The Stag will offer a warm welcome to all, including your four-legged friends, and there’s plenty of space to sit outside if your dog prefers this. Finally, if you fancy a trip to the pub after a day at Traeth Bychan, head north to Moelfre, where you’ll be welcome at the Kinmel Arms pub, or south to The Tavern on the Bay, which sits at the top of Red Wharf Bay.

Wherever you decide to explore on Anglesey, your furry friend is bound to have a great time with you, so long as you check beforehand that the beaches are dog-friendly, and that there are some pubs close by where you can enjoy a meal and a pint, with him, or her, by your side.

Things to do around Machynlleth

The busy market town of Machynlleth is a popular tourist destination, situated as it is just south of the Snowdonia National Park, and just a few minutes drive from the beaches of Aberdovey and Borth. Whilst many holiday-makers might head straight for the better-known Snowdonia attractions of Betws-y-Coed, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Bala, Machynlleth has plenty to offer in its own right, and the surrounding area is packed with places to visit and things to do. In today’s post, we take a look at some of the best ideas for holidays in the Machynlleth area, whether you’re looking for thrills and spills adventure, a walk on the wild side, or some gentle relaxation in stunning scenery.

Snowdonia

 

For adventure-seekers, Machynlleth is a great holiday base. There are some superb mountain biking trails in the Dyfi valley, wittily named Mach 1, 2, 3 and 4, all of which are detailed on the Dyfi Mountain Biking website. We’ve mentioned Zip World and Surf Snowdonia in a previous blog post, and both of these are within a reasonable driving distance from Machynlleth, so would make a fabulous day out. There’s good surfing to be had around Borth and Ynyslas, and many of the beaches along this stretch of coast are wide and open, so they’re great for kitesurfing and other beach-based sports.

For those looking to get up close and personal with some wildlife, there are some amazing opportunities in this area. Go for a falconry experience as Maes Dulas, near Machynlleth, or visit the Dyfi Osprey Centre, just outside the town. The Ynys Hir Wildlife Reserve, back along the Dyfi estuary a little, is perfect for keen birdwatchers and enthusiastic amateurs alike. Visitors, both young and old, can glimpse rare birds or hire a pond dipping kit, to see what wriggly creatures they can discover.

One of Machynlleth’s top attractions is the Centre for Alternative Technology. Founded about 40 years ago, on the site of a disused quarry, the CAT centre offers a fascinating insight into the world of sustainable living and renewable energy. It’s an informative and inspiring place, with plenty of hands-on demonstrations and games for kids of all ages, making it fun to learn about our planet and ways that we can all help to reduce our impact on it.

West Wales is blessed with countless stunning beaches, and Machynlleth is just a short drive from some of the most charming of these. Borth’s long, sandy beach draws holidaymakers in throughout the season, both for the beach itself, and for the ancient submerged forest, which becomes visible at low tide. A little further north from Borth is Aberdyfi, or Aberdovey, in English. This pretty seaside village has a charming working harbour, and is a delightful place to while away a sunny afternoon, looking out across Cardigan Bay, with the foothills of Snowdonia behind the village. Continue north along the coast to reach Barmouth, another charming resort that’s full of character.

Barmouth

Machynlleth itself is also well worth a visit, as it’s a lovely little town with a busy arts and antiques scene, and a lively market every Wednesday. Browse the independent boutiques, admire the town’s architecture and perhaps take in an art exhibition at MOMA Machynlleth. With plenty of options for eating out, Machynlleth really does offer a great base for a fabulous holiday in West Wales.

Is Wales becoming the adventure capital of Europe?

Think of a holiday in Wales, and you might be tempted to imagine days spent on the sandy beaches of Anglesey, or eating fabulous crab sandwiches in one of Tenby’s many cafés. Whilst, for some, this sums up the perfect relaxing holiday, there are plenty of others who want a whole lot more adventure from their annual break. After an amazing ‘Year of Adventure’ in 2016, Wales looks set to take the title of adventure capital of Europe, offering adrenaline junkies more thrills, spills and epic experiences than they can handle in just one holiday!

If you’re interested in taking an adventure holiday this year, Wales is jam-packed with opportunities to test your nerves, skill and stamina. From the harsh wildness of the Brecon Beacons and the majestic beauty of Snowdonia to the coast of Pembrokeshire and the Irish Sea, whatever adventure challenge you choose is guaranteed to have the most stunning backdrop imaginable.

Kayaking in Wales

With miles and miles of epic coastline, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of water-based adventure experiences available around Wales. From coasteering off the Pembrokeshire cliffs to sea kayaking in Cardigan Bay, there’s a challenge to suit all ages and all fear levels! If you’re holidaying on Anglesey, why not try a RIB ride on the Menai Straits? If that sounds all a bit tame for your liking, go for the hardcore ‘Bear Grylls Extreme’ RIB ride, out into the wild Irish Sea – where conditions will challenge even the toughest of adventure nuts.

All that coastline means that there are plenty of surfing opportunities, too. From the vast beach at Newgale to Hell’s Mouth on the Llyn Peninsula, surfers are spoilt for choice. Surfers looking for something altogether different should head to Surf Snowdonia, at Dolgarrog. This awesome inland surfing lagoon has to be seen to be believed, and offers an exhilarating experience for both accomplished surfers and beginners alike.

Away from water-based adventures, Wales has an incredible range of outdoor activities to offer. A network of mountain bike centres across Wales offers trails that challenge riders’ skills, determination and guts. If you think mountain biking is about pottering along canal towpaths, think again! From Brechfa Forest in West Wales to Coed Y Brenin in the north, off-road mountain biking trails will throw mud, rocks, white knuckle descents and more at riders, at speeds of up to 40mph!

Mountain Biking in Wales

Of course, Wales has long been known for its awesome hiking trails, from the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia to the coastal paths of Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. Whilst some trails are fine for casual hikers, there are plenty of others that will really put more experienced hikers and climbers through their paces.

If you have young children, it’s easy to think that an adventure holiday isn’t perhaps the best idea, but nothing could be further from the truth. Look online for venues offering children’s sessions and classes, to find kid-friendly adventure opportunities from rock climbing and abseiling to kayaking and white water rafting.

For adrenaline addicts of all ages, a trip to Zip World in North Wales has to be on the list of must-do adventure activities. If you like the thought of travelling at over 100mph along a wire down the side of a mountain, and then over a cliff above a quarry lake, Zip World is for you.

Assuming you’re brave enough to open your eyes during the ‘flight’, you’ll have the most incredible panoramic views across Snowdonia.

Also at Zip World, Bounce Below is a cavern-based experience, offering giant trampolines, suspended walkways, rope bridges and more, to give adventurers of all ages a thrilling and challenging day out.

With such a dramatic and awe-inspiring landscape and coastline, it’s perhaps inevitable that Wales offers so many opportunities for adventure-based holidays. If you’re ready for some heart-pumping thrills on your next holiday, Wales is the perfect choice, and with holiday accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, WTO can help you find the perfect holiday base.

Dog-Friendly Beaches in West Wales

Summer is almost here, and many of us are thinking about our annual holidays. For those of us with dogs, choosing where to stay can be a little more complicated than for people without pets, as we want our furry friends to enjoy the holiday as much as we do. If you’re planning to visit the West Wales coast this summer, read on for advice on the best dog-friendly beaches, and also some top tips on ensuring your pooch enjoys his day.


Dog-friendly beaches in West Wales

 

There are few more appealing sights than an excited dog running free on a sandy beach, bounding around in joyful exuberance, meeting other dogs and fetching sticks from the sea. Sadly, not everyone shares this love of dogs, and beaches are intended for the enjoyment of everyone, so many beaches operate some form of controlled access for dogs, at least for the summer months. If you visit a beach where dogs aren’t permitted, you could find yourself being asked to leave, and having to rethink your day at short notice.

Many beaches in West Wales have a ‘No Dogs’ policy that runs from May 1st until September 30th, to cover the busy holiday season. Beaches with this kind of restriction will generally prohibit dogs from all or at least part of the beach. For example, in Tenby, dogs are not permitted on the North beach, the Castle beach or the Harbour beach (except to board a boat), but visitors with dogs can use a large part of the vast South beach. Poppit, Newgale, Broadhaven and Saundersfoot also have summer restrictions, so it pays to check with the local tourist office or online at sites like the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide.

Over in Ceredigion, it’s a similar story. From May until the end of September, dogs are banned from many beaches, including New Quay and Penbryn, and on many other beaches, dogs are restricted to a certain section of the beach. At Aberporth, dogs can use Dyffryn beach all year round, but they can only use Dolwen beach between September and mid-June.

For the most part, beaches in West Wales are very dog-friendly, and beaches where dogs are banned completely are few and far between. Check with the local tourist office, or if you plan to stay in a holiday cottage or self-catering apartment, ask the owner for advice.

One thing to bear in mind when planning a holiday with your dog is that not all the beaches on the West Wales coast are sandy. Fido may well find it much harder going on a shingle beach such as Newgale or Aberaeron, so you may want to ensure that you choose a location close to both types of beach.

It’s also a good idea to take some essential supplies with you when you take your dog to the beach. Make sure you have plenty of water, as well as a plastic drinking bowl, as your dog is likely to get extra thirsty on the beach. You’ll need doggy poo bags of course, and you might also want to consider a towel and even a popup tent, so your dog can rest in the shade if he gets too hot.

If you’re looking for dog-friendly accommodation for your holiday in Wales, check out our holiday property search, which allows visitors to filter their property search to show pet-friendly listings.

Last minute Christmas gift ideas – the perfect holiday or break

There are only five days left until Christmas. Yes, you read that right. Where has the time gone? If you’re anything like us, you’ve been holding out for the perfect Christmas gift. Waiting until you find the perfect present. And that’s great. It shows thought and commitment. But, it also means you don’t actually have a present and time is running out. Fast.

Not to worry though. Wales Tourists Online is here to save the day. We’ve scouted out some fantastic deals and have come up with a list of great cottages and hotels to help you give the perfect gift this Christmas – a holiday.

The Copthorne Hotel, Cardiff, South Wales

The Copthorne Hotel is the perfect getaway gift. After an indulgent Christmas you can begin your health boost by working up a sweat in the hotel’s modern health club, which comes complete with a gym and a 15 metre swimming pool. Once you’ve worked out, hit the sauna and steam room to unwind. Then, you can refuel in the hotel’s award-winning restaurant before heading into Cardiff for an evening of entertainment. If you’re looking for a spot of pampering, The Copthorne Hotel has an on-site hair salon. We can’t think of a better way to kick start 2016.

The Copthorne South WalesThe Copthorne Swimming Pool

 

St Mary’s Golf and Country Club, Bridgened, Glamorgan

With an 18-hole golf course, a stay at St Mary’s Golf and Country Club would make an excellent Christmas present for any keen golfer. The well-kept course is challenging, with an unusual water hazard and plenty of banks, bunkers, and mature oaks for you to manoeuvre.

Not only does St Mary’s Golf and Country Club have superb golfing facilities, it also has a restaurant that serves sumptuous meals and a well-stocked bar for relaxing in at night time. Plus, if you need a break from golf you explore the beautiful nearby countryside or visit one of the number of local castles, such as Coity Castle, the Llantrisant Castle and the Candleston Castle.

 

St Mary's Hotel Gol

St Mary's Hotel Golf and Country Club

The Old Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast, Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd

Overlooking Cardigan Bay, the Old Farmhouse oozes picturesque charm. With beams, one and a half acres of gorgeous grounds and a swimming pool, you couldn’t ask for more from a romantic getaway. Oh wait, yes you can – a hot tub. If that won’t put a smile on someone’s face this Christmas morning, we’re not sure if anything will. As well as superb facilities, the Old Farmhouse offers a hearty breakfast of locally sourced meat from the award-winning butcher. You can also enjoy fruit salad, cereals, croissants or toasts. If you’re going to be out enjoying the many nearby attractions for a day out, a healthy or unhealthy packed lunch can be prepared for you too for just £5.

The Old Farmhouse B&B

Rose Villa Bed and Breakfast, Pennant, Llanon

If the person in your life can’t bear to be parted from their pet, then you’ve just found the perfect solution – Rose Villa Bed and Breakfast. This pet-friendly B&B will welcome your pet with open arms and you’ll also be able to enjoy the B&Bs own animal menagerie. The owners have a visiting pair of Canadian geese, wildlife on their lake and often see pheasants and red kites. The owners also house chickens, croesfford texels (sheep) and horses. Oh and did we mention there’s even a model railway onsite? From just £30.00 per night, including a hearty Welsh breakfast with eggs laid by the chickens, a stay at Rose Villa Bed and Breakfast would be a charming and memorable Christmas gift.

Rose Villa

Fun Christmas activities, Wales, December 2015

We haven’t got the decorations up at Wales Tourists HQ yet, but we’re definitely getting into the Christmas spirit. Today, over a mid-morning coffee break, we chatted about a few of our Christmas traditions. We thought you might like to know about the best suggestions.

So here’s a list of some of our favourite Christmas activities in Wales that you can do this December:

Ice skating at Swansea Winter Wonderland 2015 

First on the list had to be ice skating at Swansea’s Winter Wonderland. The Admiral rink is set in the heart of the fair and is a fantastic place to skate. Plus, there’s also a children’s rink. Apparently this is the only children’s rink in Wales.

Once you’ve finished skating you could also visit the grotto, ride the big wheel or try out the fun fair. And after all of that, refuel at the Alpine cabins with some hearty food and drink.

Prices: Prices ranged from £5.50 to £9.00. You can get discounted tickets if you book in advance. Family passes are also available.

Fact: 43,000 people skated at Swansea Winter Wonderland last Christmas.

Santa’s Toy Mine at Rhondda Heritage Par

If you have small children or young kids in the family, Santa’s Toy Mine is a must-do activity for you this December. You’ll be invited to follow clues through the mine to find Father Christmas. During your festive adventure you’ll pass through the sweet mine and the ice cave.

The Toy Mine is held at Rhondda Heritage Park and is open until the 24th December 2015.

Tickets are £7.95 for children and £4.95 for adults

Fact: Until the mid-1800s, it’s thought that Father Christmas rode a donkey.

Mold’s Festive Market, 13th December

Whether you’re looking for handmade Christmas gifts for someone special or some traditional Christmas food, you’re sure to find it aplenty Mold’s Festive Market. As well as craft stalls, there will be performers, Christmas rides and inflatables, as well as a Santa’s grotto, a children’s treasure hunt and a Santa Dash race. So quite a busy day! This year the event is held on the 13th December between 9am and 2pm.

Christmas concert at St David’s, Cardiff, 18th December

Listening to beautiful voices is one of the best ways we know how to get into the Christmas spirit and we know the talent planned for this year’s concert at St David’s is bound to warm even though most Scrooge-like of folks. This year the line-up includes Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and music from The Snow Maiden by Rimsky-Korsakov’s. Of course, you’ll also get the chance to get involved too during the sing-along sections. So get practicing.

Also taking part in the Christmas concert are: Edwin Outwater, the conductor, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the BBC National Chorus of Wales and the Caerphilly Children’s Choir. The concert takes place on the 18th of December and Tickets range from between £10 and £32.

Fact: The largest ever Father Christmas was a statue in Singapore. The Santa was 15.6 m high, weighed 2.5 tonnes and was in place for Christmas 1996.

 

 

Fun and cheap things to do this October half term, 2015

How on earth is it half term already? It feels like only yesterday we were rinsing down the body boards and tidying up the buckets and spades. If half term has got you in a spin, don’t fret. We’re here to save the day (or in this case the week). Use our guide to make sure your October half term is fun-filled, exciting and doesn’t break the bank.

A leisurely walk around Hawarden

Hawarden at this time of year is beautiful. Blazing orange and red leaves, lots of winding paths to explore, an abandoned corn mill, stream, orchard and the odd cow and horse to meet along the way – what more could you want from a walk?

Make sure after all that fresh, healthy air you make your way to the Hawarden Farm Shop. Not only could you pick up some delicious foods for dinner from their deli and shop, they make heavenly cakes that are well worth trying.

You can find some routes here or just go for a wander. The paths are relatively well sign-posted. Being relatively flat for Wales, this is a nice one to do with kids or the more reluctant walker. But make sure you pack some wellies or suitable footwear as it can get muddy.

Big Bug Hunt, Erdigg

Not afraid of bugs? No? How about if the bugs are gigantic? Huge? Out-of-this-world ginormous? Still not scared? Okay, then the Big Bug Hunt at Erdigg, which is run by the National Trust, sounds perfect for you. A crafts person has created 10 big bugs and hidden them around the National Trust house. It’s your mission to find the bugs. This event is free, but normal admission prices still apply. If you’re keen to take part in this fun event, contact Susanne Gronnow: 01978 315160, susanne.gronnow@nationaltrust.org.uk.

Dylan’s Big Birthday Bash, Swansea

You’ve been invited to a special party – Dylan Thomas’ 101st birthday celebration. With the promise of birthday cake, poetry fun and even some fanciful face painting, this is one party you’ll defineitly want to add to your diary. The event takes place on Tuesday 27th October at Somerset Place and is set to run from 12pm to 4pm.

Peppa Pig Surprise Show, Cardiff

Okay. We know you may not feel too warmly about Peppa Pig having watched more than you ever thought it possible to watch of one cartoon pig, but you’ll probably make your kids week if you took them along to the Peppa Pig’s Surprise live show at Cardiff.

During the performance you and your little ones will meet Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig, George and of course Peppa. This activity isn’t as budget-friendly as the other activities on the list, but it might make the perfect treat if you have young children.

Welly Week and a Halloween Party, Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan

Set within 55 acres Dyffryn Gardens boasts stunning lawns, a rose garden, elegant ponds, a glasshouse, a Pompeian garden and trees from around the world. If that wasn’t enough they’ve also got some fantastic events on for kids during October half term, such as Welly Week. If you take part in welly week you’ll be invited to go on a welly hunt around the gardens looking for hidden wellies. And remember to look out for the golden welly boot.

Also being held at Dyffryn Gardens is Apple Week and a Halloween disco. At the disco your children can show off their spooky Halloween costumes and their dance moves, as well as go on a walk and take part in the Halloween themed games and storytelling. Here’s more information about the events at Dyffryn Gardens.