The Welsh capital is a great place to visit all year round. From the beautiful Bay to the bustling city centre, Cardiff has plenty to offer families, couples, or solo travellers.
It’s no surprise that Christmas in Cardiff features festive entertainments that are full of fun, spectacle and winter warmth. We’ll look at the best events and activities in Cardiff for Christmas and give some travel tips to make the most of your visit.
Things to do in Cardiff at Christmas
The festive season starts in early November with the arrival of the market, and it only gets better from there. Enjoy the lights and the shows, countless seasonal events, and the party atmosphere that grips the city.
What kinds of events can you expect to find in Cardiff this Christmas? Here are some of the best to enjoy with your family or friends.
Winter Wonderland at City Hall Lawn
Head over to City Hall Lawn to visit one-half of the magnificent Winter Wonderland. It opens on 16th November and runs through to New Year’s Day.
The kids, and your inner child, will love this family funfair. Try your luck at the games, enjoy some winter treats or take a ride on the big wheel to look out over local landmarks.
Be sure to visit the wonderful ice bar constructed entirely of, you guessed it, ice. However, you’ll need to book a slot before you slide up and order. Winter Wonderland is open till 10 pm every night, and 8 pm on Christmas Eve.
Cardiff Castle Christmas Festival
The winter fun doesn’t stop when you visit Cardiff Castle. Here, there’s a covered ice rink that all ages and skill levels will love. Santa is even rumoured to be paying a visit!
This is also open until 10 pm, and runs until 2nd January, closing only on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
For those who don’t fancy taking to the ice, you can head into the Castle to explore its gorgeous Victorian decorations. Or, if you fancy a Christmas dinner with a difference, book in for a historical Welsh festive banquet between 29th November and 20th December.
This cultural capital has theatres and open-air spaces that entertain visitors every day of the year. Christmas is no exception. Here’s a look at the festive highlights for families and grown-ups.
Christmas Shows in Cardiff
It’s panto season, so expect a star-studded list of touring shows. This year, Peter Pan plays at the Utilita Arena on 9th and 10th December, starring eighties pop icon Boy George as the infamous Captain Hook.
At the New Theatre, catch Jac and the Beanstalk with Lesley Joseph, Mike Doyle, Aaron James, Denquar Chupak and Steve Arnott. It runs from 9th December to 7th January 2024. Grab your tickets for evenings full of laughter!
Sophia Gardens Open Air Theatre is hosting the magical Santa’s Wish from 1st December to Christmas Eve. It’s an enchanting tale of a cheeky elf who has to save Christmas when Santa’s sleigh crashes.
Castellana also returns to this venue. Strictly for adults, it’s a thrilling evening of cabaret, burlesque, acrobatics and trickery.
The 16th of November sees the big switch on of Cardiff’s Christmas lights. Expect the city centre to be bouncing for this event.
Christmas at Bute Park has also become one of the highlights for visiting families. You can enjoy plenty of wonder and magic this year along the 1.4-kilometre route. A tunnel of light, laser shows and breathtaking projections are just some highlights. It’s the perfect date night or family activity to brighten up the cold, dark evenings.
The Christmas market in Cardiff is famous across Wales and runs from November 9th to December 23rd. Stalls will fill The Hayes, the city centre square, and extend all the way along pedestrianised Working Street.
Packed with unique regional gifts, the craft stalls are partly organised by Craft*Folk, who run artisan fairs across South Wales.
Of course, no Christmas market would be complete without the festive lights and a selection of street food to savour. Luckily, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Solo travellers, groups and families can lap up all the sights, sounds, tastes and aromas of the season here.
Plenty of groups have their Christmas celebrations in Cardiff, so why not join them? You’ll never be short of bars, clubs or restaurants to visit here.
The city centre is where both locals and visitors come for their festive celebrations. Once you’ve sampled the nightlife, you’ll see why.
The Castle Quarter is in the centre of town and surrounds The Hayes, where the main Christmas market is. There are lots of excellent chain and independent bars and eateries to choose from in this area. So you can book a table or crawl around a few places you fancy.
Alternatively, wrap up warm and head down to Cardiff Bay. There, you’ll find a smaller selection of places to eat great food and have a mulled wine overlooking the water.
How to get to Cardiff by train
From London, you can travel to Cardiff from Paddington directly by train. There are also direct trains from Birmingham New Street to Cardiff Central.
From Scotland, Manchester and Liverpool, join Avanti all the way to Birmingham New Street, then change and head southwest to Cardiff.
Plus, if you fancy extending your Christmas break, you can head further afield to beautiful North Wales on one of our trains.
Wherever you travel, remember you can make great savings using a Railcard. In fact, you can save a third off your fare when you travel off-peak. Giving you a little extra to spend on that special Christmas gift or a festive treat for yourself.