Festival of Voice – our guide to the venues!

So, unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, you will know that there’s a new, fabulous music festival heading for Cardiff, bringing oodles of WORLD RENOWNED artists and mixing them up with all sorts of awesome Welsh talent.

festival_of_voice_banner_on_wmcI’m talking about the Festival of Voice, people! The line up is wonderful:

Charlotte Church, Bryn Terfel, Meilyr Jones, Rufus Wainwright, John Cale, John Grant, Ben Folds, Juliet Greco, Mariza, Laura Mvula, Ronnie Spector, Les Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Femi Kuti, Mbongwana Star, Hugh Masekela, Juliet Kelly, Sianed Jones, Jamie Woon, Flavia Coelho, Scritti Politti and Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Lera Lynn, Woman’s Hour, yMusic, Fatima, House Gospel Choir, Candi Staton, Anna Calvi, The Hot Sardines, Keaton Henson, Rustavi Voices of Georgia, Anne Carrere and Amartuvshin Enkhbat.

And if you need further proof of their excellent judgement and taste, they asked me to write the venue guide, which is very natty, if I do say so myself.

Festival of Voice: venue guide

Also, excitingly, we’ve got some tickets to give away to Festival of Voice shows! Keep your ears peeled, people (yes that’s a thing …)





Our first ever Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival: 20-25 June

Well HOW exciting! This June we welcome the first EVER Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival to the city.

Following in the footsteps of Edinburgh, Brighton, and London, Cardiff will enjoy an annual shot of affordable theatrical delight from both new and established theatre companies, held in a range of local venues.


Here’s what the Festival says about itself:

Cardiff’s Fringe Festival was borne from a desire to build on the gathering momentum of performing arts culture in Cardiff, and allow it to reach a self-sustaining critical mass. In order to draw the people of Cardiff to the theatre in larger numbers than a single production might achieve, the festival will present an affordable programme that caters to a wide range of tastes. It encourages the use of non-theatrical venues in an attempt to change the public’s perception of “going to the theatre”.

The festival will prioritise maximum accessibility for audiences and companies alike, promoting an inclusive and nurturing environment where audiences can experience work from both the rawest and most sophisticated ends of the theatrical spectrum. Artists at different stages of their career will be able to mix and learn from each other, and will not be exposed to the financial risk associated with venue hire. Venues will benefit from the publicity and footfall the festival will bring.

This unique collaboration across venues and companies will operate within a financially sustainable model that will bring both cultural enrichment and revenue to the city.

Sounds great, right? If you want to get involved, either pick up tickets for the so-far announced shows, the launch party or the post-festival closing party!

To buy tickets for the announced shows, see the Fringe Tickets page

Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival (CFTF) website

CFTF Facebook page


Should I move to Cardiff?

UPDATED! As this piece is one of our most read, we’ll keep updating the main details, costs and facts. Last updated – January 2020.

I got an email recently from someone who had recently discovered the blog. I’ll call her Bethan. She sent in this very lovely email:

Over the past five or so years have fallen in love with Cardiff on my trips to visit. Following a trip this weekend I found your blog on my way back to London.

I’ve lived in London for the best part of the decade and am getting fed up with no money and a rubbish quality of life. Apologies for the slightly random email but I just wondered if you thought someone Londonified but loves Cardiff would be happy if they moved there? Or any challenges or tips you have?

My gut instinct is that I’d be very happy there as there’s so much on offer but in a much more friendly and welcoming place where you’re not bankrupted when you leave the house! Any thoughts etc would be greatly appreciated

Are you feeling like Bethan? Struggling in London, underpaid, bummed out, in need of fresh air, cheaper pints, in a city you can walk across? Then why not consider a move to Cardiff.

Here’s what I sent back to her.

doug_nicholls_instagram - 16

Hi Bethan!

If you’re getting fed up with being broke and having a rubbish quality of life, then I highly recommend Cardiff to you. I mean, I don’t know anything about you really, other than you have a friend in Caerphilly and you live in London, but I’m presuming you have a job you don’t mind much about leaving, and that you’re into the sort of thing we write about on We Are Cardiff, so that’s mostly what I’ve based this answer on.


I’m going to run through some reasons why Cardiff is awesome now. Also if you don’t believe me, there are STATS to support this, like the fact that the population of the city is currently growing at a faster rate than any UK city. People are moving here. Our secret is getting out!


Cardiff has a cheap cost of living for a capital city. It’s much easier to get by on a low salary here than somewhere in London – there are lots of house shares (particularly in Roath, Splott and Canton) where you can find a double room in a beautiful old Victorian terrace (very common type of Cardiff house) with like-minded people from £300 a month to £800 a month (including bills). I did a quick search on SpareRoom using the CF24 postcode (which covers Roath – a popular, artsy location near the university and close to town) just to sense check my figures and as you can see from this Cardiff room search on SpareRoom, there are loads of options within that price range.

There was a survey published recently that gave some actual figures which back up my abstract wafflings (I’ve included it in the links below – NOTE THESE FIGURES ARE FROM 2016, I AM SEARCHING FOR UPDATED ONES!)

  • Average weekly household spend of £384.60 compared to a UK average of £426.30;
  • Disposable income per head stands at £16,520, which is below the UK average of £17,559 but up 3 per cent on 2014 levels;
  • House prices are 6.6 times the value of salaries compared to a UK average of 8.8.

So! There you go on the stats. That’s enough of that.

doug_nicholls_instagram - 18


Well, I suppose it all depends on what you mean by quality of life, but going back to stats again, Cardiff achieved a life satisfaction score of 7.53 out of 10 (ONS data). From a completely subjective position, what that means for me is the following things (which you will see reflected throughout the We Are Cardiff content!):

  • varied nightlife (a whole bunch of pubs, clubs, bars, pop-up restaurants etc)
  • lots of artsy stuff going on (we’ve got the Welsh National Opera here, NoFit State Circus are based here, we have touring musicals and theatre on a weekly basis, there are loads of smaller scale cabaret type events all the time, circus skills workshops, hula hoop classes, open mics, writer’s groups, art exhibitions).
  • farmers markets, community gardens, a growing sustainability / green interest community
  • LOADS OF GREEN SPACES, like EVERYWHERE. The centre of town pivots around the castle and behind it, the endless green swathes of Bute Park. Nearly every neighbourhood has some super lovely park nearby
  • it’s 20-30 minutes drive to the gorgeous Brecon Beacons (MOUNTAINS!!!)
  • it’s zero minutes drive to the coast (WE ARE ON THE COAST!!!!)
  • there are castles everywhere (castle fact: Wales is actually the country in the world with the most castles – built and ruined)
  • if you like running, we have an awesome Park Run around Bute Park and Grangemoor Parks on the weekend
  • if you like cycling, the Taf Trail runs all the way from Cardiff to the source of the river Taf up in Merthyr Tydfil – you can take your bike up there on the train and cycle all the way back, stopping in pubs on the way, it is THE BEST
  • it’s very small so easy to get around on foot and bike
  • also because it’s small it’s to find  things you’re interested in and meet people / get involved in things
  • also because it’s small you bump into your friends! all the time! it’s lovely!
  • Bristol is only an hour on the train – loads of gigs and great nightlife going on there
  • if you like roller derby, we have one of the top women’s teams (go Tiger Bay Brawlers!)
  • I am in no way into sports (like, not at all) but we have LOADS of massive sports events here. I should really appreciate this more.

I don’t think this would be a reasonable email if I didn’t also tell you about some of the drawbacks of living here.

  • the smallness can be stifling for some people. I haven’t really experienced this, I think if you grow up here it’s more of a thing than if you move here from somewhere else (I have been informed by locally born and raised friends that on Tinder that you can run out of people to swipe right!)
  • we often get overlooked for gigs because Bristol is just an easier option, especially if bands are continuing north or the other way on to London. However, Bristol is easily visited in an evening (see above).
  • you might suddenly develop massive smugness at how much better your life is here and become unbearable to all your other friends. this is normal and hopefully should die down at some point (!)

doug_nicholls_instagram - 22


There have been countless reports and surveys released over the past year or so that frequently name Cardiff as the best city to live in (or one of) in Europe. I’ve included below a list of the most recent ones that might be of interest to you:

I’m not sure how much of We Are Cardiff you’ve looked through (there are, I just realised, over 700 posts on there now!!) but there are a couple of people who have written pen portraits of themselves and have similar pasts to you (ie they’ve come from other places and now live in Cardiff)



Now then – this next story is actually completely the other way round – it’s written by a guy who is from Cardiff but moved to London during the ‘bleak’ 90s, but then came across We Are Cardiff and wrote a blog post about it based on what he remembered of Cardiff as a youngster and his feelings about it now, and also a bit about his current life in London. I thought it was really fascinating reading and beautifully written which is why I posted about it:James – ‘It’s where you’re between’

Generally speaking to get what ‘the people’ are saying about Cardiff, flick through the ‘People‘ section on the website. Also I’d like to say I don’t edit anything for content – people are free to write what they want, I don’t in anyway force them to be positive about Cardiff, and again for balance I’ll point you to Lee’s post.

I have lived in loads of different places, but love Cardiff to pieces. It’s really friendly, there’s plenty of variety of nights out and places to eat and communities to join and things to do – if you’re into the alternative vibe, you’ll find lots of that here.

Also I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. It was set up a few years back as a response to the mass of negative news reports we were seeing about Cardiff in the mass media (this was around 2010). Back then it was mostly pen portraits about Cardiff written by people that we knew – today obviously it’s a very different thing, but the aim of the blog is to showcase the variety of amazing things that go on here, and still interview people involved in the local scene. So it’s fabulous that you found it, and I’m pleased it’s making you consider a change!

doug_nicholls_instagram - 13

If you want to add your comments to anyone thinking about moving to Cardiff, please do so below!

All photos in this article by Doug Nicholls

Marconi’s first wireless message transmitted over sea, from Flat Holm to Lavernock Point

Today in 1897, 22 year old Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi successfully transmitted the first ever wireless messages to go over the sea, from Flat Holm to Lavernock Point.

The morse slip, that read “Are you ready?”, was sent on 13 May 1897, and signed by Marconi and his assistant, George Kemp.

They were accompanied by William Preece, Chief Engineer of the General Post Office who was also a Welshman.

Below is a photograph showing British Post Office engineers inspecting Marconi’s wireless telegraphy equipment, during a demonstration on Flat Holm island. Pretty neat, eh?

British Post Office engineers inspect Marconi's wireless telegraphy equipment

Happy anniversary, birth of radio telecommunications!

And to think it happened right on our doorstep. Why don’t you go learn some more about Flat Holm island, while we’re chatting about it?

Flat Holm and Steep Holm

(photo by Noel Reynolds)


Sign up for the weekly We Are Cardiff newsletter

Check out what’s going on with We Are Cardiff Press


Global Cannabis March 2016 – in pictures

On May 7 in Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organised their sixth annual march through the city centre, in protest against the prohibition of cannabis for medical and recreational use.

We sent photographer Daniel Damaschin along to document the day.

Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff, Wales, May 7, 2016: Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organises the 6th Annual March through City Centre, in protest against the prohibition of Cannabis. Those participating are demanding the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. © Daniel Damaschin

Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff, Wales, May 7, 2016: Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organises the 6th Annual March through City Centre, in protest against the prohibition of Cannabis. Those participating are demanding the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. © Daniel Damaschin

Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff, Wales, May 7, 2016: Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organises the 6th Annual March through City Centre, in protest against the prohibition of Cannabis. Those participating are demanding the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. © Daniel Damaschin

Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff, Wales, May 7, 2016: Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organises the 6th Annual March through City Centre, in protest against the prohibition of Cannabis. Those participating are demanding the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. © Daniel Damaschin

Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff, Wales, May 7, 2016: Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organises the 6th Annual March through City Centre, in protest against the prohibition of Cannabis. Those participating are demanding the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. © Daniel Damaschin

Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff, Wales, May 7, 2016: Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organises the 6th Annual March through City Centre, in protest against the prohibition of Cannabis. Those participating are demanding the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. © Daniel Damaschin

Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff, Wales, May 7, 2016: Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organises the 6th Annual March through City Centre, in protest against the prohibition of Cannabis. Those participating are demanding the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. © Daniel Damaschin

Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff, Wales, May 7, 2016: Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organises the 6th Annual March through City Centre, in protest against the prohibition of Cannabis. Those participating are demanding the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. © Daniel Damaschin

Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff, Wales, May 7, 2016: Cardiff CSC (Cannabis Social Club) organises the 6th Annual March through City Centre, in protest against the prohibition of Cannabis. Those participating are demanding the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. © Daniel Damaschin

All photos by Daniel Damaschin

Sign up for the weekly We Are Cardiff newsletter

Check out what’s going on with We Are Cardiff Press

Like us on Facebook

Squawk @ us on Twitter @wearecardiff

Follow us on Instagram/WeAreCardiff

Scratch This! Cardiff scratch night launches, looking for acts …

Scratch This! call for Artists

Roll up, Roll up! Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the greatest show on earth!

Scratch This! is a new and exciting Scratch Platform for artists, musicians and performers of all genres and skills. Our aim is to give opportunity for new and established artists to present and try out new pieces of work and be given opportunity to receive feedback from the audience in a safe and informal way.

Our first Scratch This night will be on Saturday 11th June 2016 at Cardiff Speaker Hire’s warehouse, just off Dumballs Road in Cardiff, a short walk from the city centre. The show will be presented as a walkabout/installation sideshow alley followed by a cabaret following the theme of SIDESHOW. The evening will finish with a bit of a party giving the artists a chance to meet the audience and obtain feedback.

We are looking for artists of all genres to apply to be part of our first Scratch This event. Whatever your skill – be it in performance art or otherwise we’d be delighted to hear from you. We are on the lookout for: Circus performers (ground based and aerial), artists and installation artists, musicians, comedy/spoken word, walkabout, burlesque, alternative acts and more!

Your act just needs to fit (somehow!) into our theme of Sideshow Alley and/or sideshow.

PLEASE NOTE – We do have the ability to rig aerial etc and will have experienced riggers to hand, however if your act is an aerial act or a dangerous act we ask that you provide your own apparatus/equipment and that you also send proof of your insurance.

For more information email: erniesparkles@hotmail.com

Deadline for application is midnight on Friday 13 May. APPLY NOW!

Join the Scratch This! Facebook page



Sign up for the weekly We Are Cardiff newsletter

Check out what’s going on with We Are Cardiff Press

Like us on Facebook

Squawk @ us on Twitter @wearecardiff

Follow us on Instagram/WeAreCardiff

We Are Cardiff does Machynlleth Comedy Fest 2016

Every year (at least for the past seven years), the sleepy, teeny-tiny town of Machynlleth gets taken over on the May Day bank holiday with Mach Comedy Festival. It’s a weekend of comedy, theatre, music and performance (mostly comedy) in the heart of Wales, and a really lovely weekend getaway.

Here’s the festie’s own blurb about themselves:

“When we first talked about starting Machynlleth Comedy Festival above of all we wanted to create somewhere where people came to have fun, and get away from it all, whether this be the attendees, the comedians or the festival team. It was all about taking a different approach with an aim of creating a spirit of experimentation and intimacy. We’re passionate about the thrill of seeing live comedy in intimate places, and the glorious, picturesque and enchanting town of Machynlleth gave us a wealth of interesting and unique performance spaces in which to do this.”

There was a BBC Radio 4 programme about Mach, with Henry and Josh Widdicombe, broadcast a couple of weeks ago. You can hear that here: Radio 4 at the Machynlleth Comedy Festival with Elis James

This year, we went along and caught some brilliant stuff from: Goose, Bridget Christie, Richard Gadd, Joe Lycett, George Orange, Stuart Goldsmith, Spencer Jones, Aisling Bea, Mike Bubbins, Mary Bijou Cabaret, Sparkles Hoop Troop, and on and on and on.

Best parts of the weekend? Nick Helm doing an impression of Josh Widdicombe (who couldn’t make the festival because he was recording a sitcom in London). Also Ed Gamble comparing the showcase that wouldn’t end.

No spoilers – go see their Edinburgh shows! But in the meantime, here’s our photo essay from this year:

Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 01 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 02 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 03 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 04 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 05 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 06 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 07 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 08 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 09 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 10 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 11 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 12 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 13 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 14 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 15 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 16 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 17 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 18 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 19 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 20 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 21 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 22 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 23 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 24 Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest_ - 25

It was a grand old weekend. Check it out for next year!

Machynlleth Comedy Festival website


Mach Comedy Fest Facebook

Mach Comedy Instagram


Sign up for the weekly We Are Cardiff newsletter

Check out what’s going on with We Are Cardiff Press

Like us on Facebook

Squawk @ us on Twitter @wearecardiff

Follow us on Instagram/WeAreCardiff


Zombie sailors … scorched decks … ghost ships in Cardiff on Sunday 15 May …

On May 15, a ghost ship – replete with freshly married couple and zombie sailors – will be docked in Cardiff Bay … all inspired by Samuel Coleridge’s poetic monolith, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Does the title ring a faint bell? You probably studied this back in school at some point, and can’t really remember what goes on. Know what though? Doesn’t matter. This year the Coleridge in Wales Festival is bringing Coleridge back to life, here in Wales, and you need to get involved!

Oh, and did I mention ZOMBIE DECKHANDS? DOOMED LOVERS? A proper old school historic sailing ship??


A quick Q&A:

Who’s Coleridge?

Old school English poet/writer dude. Wrote in the late 1700/early 1800s. Pretty much considered part of the canon of British literature. That’s the vibe.

Why Wales?

In 1794, Coleridge quit university and decided to walk across Wales instead. Wise man. The landscape and people are credited as being massive influences on all his work.

Still with me? Fancy helping with some wedding prep and then hanging out on a ghost ship? Here are the details about the day:

An historic sailing ship is coming into Cardiff Bay. On board is an old sailor: the Ancient Mariner. He will come ashore. A wedding is about to happen. There will be a bride preparing, a groom waiting and wedding guests getting ready. The Ancient Mariner interrupts the wedding preparations. He takes the guest on a journey…

Come along dressed as if you were going to a wedding. Bring family & friends and enjoy the music, poetry and spectacle – that’s it!


from 10.45am – Music & poetry across Cardiff Bay at the Norwegian Church, The World of Boats Cafe (next to Dr Who Experience), Senedd Steps and Wales Millennium Centre
Come along to discover more about this compelling tale, adventure, spectacle and celebration. Coleridge’s poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner is one of the finest poems in the English language and it begins with preparations for a wedding – you, your family and friends are invited… wedding invitation

12.00 noon – Ship of the Ancient Mariner departs Penarth Marina
The ship will be dressed by students from Cardiff Met University and at midday she sails from Penarth Marina heading for Cardiff Bay.

at the same time 20 young people set out to walk across the Cardiff Barrage to Cardiff Bay representing 200 sailors who die in the poem because the Ancient Mariner unthinkingly destroys a living thing, the albatross.

12.30pm – Ship arrives in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay
See the medieval sailing ship sailed by a ghost crew.
Witness the Ancient Mariner figure coming ashore in Mermaid Quay.

12.50 pm – Ancient Mariner figure arrives at the Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay
Coleridge’s great poem begins with a wedding guest being stopped by the Ancient Mariner. In the Cardiff Bay celebrations the wedding groom’s party is represented by members of The Sanctuary project from Newport. The bride is represented by Cornish bard, Welsh singer and artist Ani Saunders and friends. Come along as if dressed for a wedding… wedding invitation

2.50 pm – Music and words on the steps of The Senedd, National Assembly for Wales

1.30pm: Public party at the Wales Millennium Centre
Call into to hear leading Welsh musicians as the Wales Millennium Centre hosts a party to celebrate the launch of the Coleridge in Wales festival.

2.50pm – Ancient Mariner leaves for the National Museum
The figure of The Ancient Mariner leaves Cardiff Bay by small boat, travelling up the River Taf, on a short journey to the National Museum of Wales, Park Place, Cardiff.
At this time of day there are regular buses from the Millennium Centre to the Museum, and trains from Cardiff Bay to Cardiff Queen Street for anyone wishing to travel to see the Ancient Mariner figure at the National Museum.

3.45pm: Ancient Mariner at the National Museum of Wales
The Ancient Mariner figure arrives with the wedding party at the National Museum of Wales, Park Place to see the newly displayed engravings of Rime of the Ancient Mariner by major artist David Jones.

More about Coleridge in Wales:

In Wales Coleridge began for the first time to engage passionately with the wildness of nature. The tour confirmed his career as an artist. Famous lines from Rime of the Ancient Mariner were inspired by climbing on a hot day the mountain Penmaenmawr in North Wales.  Caves and landscape in his great poem Kubla Khan are linked to Devil’s Bridge near Aberystwyth.

Coleridge in Wales website


Sign up for the weekly We Are Cardiff newsletter

Check out what’s going on with We Are Cardiff Press

Like us on Facebook

Squawk @ us on Twitter @wearecardiff

Follow us on Instagram/WeAreCardiff

Cardiff for literature lovers and budding bards

Hear ye, hear ye! Poet Patrick Widdess has put together a guide to Cardiff’s ever-growing underground for authors, poets, and lovers of the written word. Read on for the low-down on Cardiff’s best open-mic and other events! 

We Are Cardiff present its first book, Porter pub thursday 5 november 2015, an evening through readings, live music and the most creative mind within the Welsh capital through an art joruney into the heart of creative cardiff.

Lovers of literature and budding bards have plenty of chances to indulge their passion for poetry and prose in Cardiff. The city has an ever-growing programme of events where you can hear a variety of poets and spoken word artists. Some attract established writers from Cardiff and further afield. Most feature open mic spots for writers and performers of all styles and levels of experience to share their work. There is something on almost every night of the week and these events are always worth checking out:

RARA (Rhyme and Real Ale)

Second Monday of the month
Mackintosh Sports Club, Keppoch Street, Roath

This friendly event welcomes poets of all levels to share their work or just listen. As organiser Will Ford says: “People should come to RARA  because beginners are given the same warm welcome as experienced readers and everybody gets the same five minute slot length. It is free and it is a fun, eclectic night where every reader gets to be as silly or as serious as their own writing demands!”

Will also runs spoken word events at various times and places under the name Megaverse (www.facebook.com/Megaverse-1157959360887023).


Monthly (Check Facebook page for dates)
Four Bars at Dempseys
15 Castle Street, CF10 1BS
7 – 11pm

JUKE has only been going a short time but this open mic night has already established a solid reputation. Organiser Renn Hubbuck-Melly says: “JUKE is a night for writers of all different styles and forms which focuses specifically on performance and encourages people to explore and experiment with new ways of presenting words. There are feature acts who are seasoned performers and themed nights which ask people to write on a specific theme, the latest one being Myths and Fairytales. It is a very friendly, welcoming environment that can help inspire writers to think further than the page. It’s also entertaining and enjoyable for those who just want to come and watch.”


Fourth Sunday of the month
See Facebook page for venue
A new night in one of Cardiff’s newest creative spaces. Stephanie Finegan and Natasha Borton invite lovers of words, music and coffee to enjoy a night “with the vibe of the Beat Generation and the power of spoken word, rhythm and music mixing in the air with daiquiris and Cappuccinos.”

First Thursday of the month at Chapter

Market Road, CF5 1QE

No excuses for forgetting when this event is! First Thursday features established writers and open mic slots. It is hosted by Amy Wack, Poetry Editor at Seren press and sponsored by Seren, Mulfran Press and Literature Wales. Such backing guarantees a high-calibre night of literary talent. There is a £2.50 entry fee refunded against the cost of books.

First Thursday Facebook group

Cardiff visiting writers series

Six times a year (always on a Monday) 
Four Bars at Dempseys
15 Castle Street, CF10 1BS
Cardiff University’s department of English, Communications and Philosophy organises this series which offers a great opportunity for their students and members of the public to hear published authors, and share their own work on the open mic in a relaxed setting. Past authors at the event have included Tessa Hadley and Rachel Trezise. There is often a Q&A session with the visiting author.
Patrick Widdess is a poet based in Newport. He is a familiar face on the Cardiff spoken word scene and his work has appeared in publications including Agenda, Cake, The Interpreter’s House, The Guardian, Waitrose Weekend and others. He hosts poetry blog and podcast Headstand and has recently published the book ‘Poetry Non-stop: Unlock your poetic muse and write a poem a day for 30 days’ available on Amazon. Support your local talent and buy a copy now!
By the way … if you’re a lover of literature, did we mention that the We Are Cardiff Press debut book, The 42b, is out now?

Like us on Facebook

Squawk @ us on Twitter @wearecardiff

Follow us on Instagram/WeAreCardiff

Support The Boneyard’s community space – crowdfund it now!

The lovely Boneyard is an independent space in Canton with up-cycled shipping containers used as hot-desks and production spaces for some of Cardiff’s creative and freelance community. They’ve got a crowdfunder going on at the mo to help fund renovation of their warehouse space.


These containers have been turned into unique studio spaces aimed at micro businesses. They provide a chance for people to move their business from their kitchen table and grow together in a creative community.

The Boneyard are after £3,100 to make a communal space at The Bone Yard. The money will be used to build a roof,  walls, install doors and install a basic kitchen. So far they have raised £1500, and so all businesses located there are pooling their talents to build this crowdfunding campaign to raise the final £1600.

So if you fund this, it’s not money for nothing! You’ll get the choice of a number of awesome perks, from cupcakes to Indian Head Massages, to rental of one of the units as a gallery space. Make sure to check the Boneyard Indiegogo campaign and help this independent community improve and grow! There’s only ONE WEEK LEFT so get supporting now!


Sign up for the weekly We Are Cardiff newsletter

Check out what’s going on with We Are Cardiff Press

Like us on Facebook

Squawk @ us on Twitter @wearecardiff

Follow us on Instagram/WeAreCardiff

“Wales is a good place for tribes to thrive”: talking music with Lucy Squire

Today I am super, super excited to publish this interview with a long time hero and pal of mine. Lucy Squire: entrepreneur, stalwart of the music community and passionately supporting the local alternative dance scene for longer than anyone would care to remember. Lucy ran dance music store Catapult up until a couple of years ago, put on raves in bank vaults (amongst other locations) and today talks to us exclusively about Catapult, soundsystems, Castlemorton, innovation in dance music and the courses she now teaches at USW. Hero klaxon!


You’re not from Cardiff originally – tell us about where you grew up.

Weston-super-Mare: invaded on bank holidays by punks and mods, booming with old age people homes and rehabs, dead in the winter but NUTS in the summer. People are drawn to seaside resorts for a variety of reasons, but a sense of community was lacking. Against that backdrop, a strong youth culture thrived.

At what age did you start really getting into music?

At junior school I was identified as musical because I could clap to a beat – violin, piano, guitar and a European tour with a Youth Orchestra followed, which I loved.

As a teenager I got into reggae, dancehall, 2tone, punk and a biker’s nightclub there called Hobbits had a big impact on me too (still love Lynyrd Skynyrd  “Freebird”). We used to catch the bus to Bristol and buy wooden crates full of Jamaican 7” imports with no middles. But it was when I first visited Glastonbury Festival, aged 12, I committed there and then to a life of music.

Can you tell me about the original rave scene back then?

In 1989 I went to the Sound Factory in New York, it was life changing. From there I was lucky enough to witness some of the early raves around the M25: Sunrise, Energy, and so on, where the only info released was the phone number to call for directions that took you on road trips often involving hundreds of miles and many wild goose chases.

Things changed with the prevalence of soundsystem culture in the UK. The free ethos and scenic locations overtook the commercial propositions for a while as the youth invaded the countryside. I attended Castlemorton 1992 and totally immersed myself in the culture. I kept a scrapbook of what was happening at the time. There was a DIY ethos where people were getting together and doing innovative things, which perpetuated a creative culture of positivity where anything felt possible. There was also a strong warehouse scene in the north – Blackburn, Manchester, and in Sheffield, where I was studying Law at University.  

A new music emerged that fused with Chicago’s disco scene; a multitude of subgenres were born and suddenly everyone was producing electronic music. The Summer of Love and Acid House are legendary chapters in the rich tapestry of British popular music. I am overjoyed that my youth took place in the 1980s/1990s, it was a lot of fun and inspired me to take the next steps in my life.

When did you move to Cardiff, and why did you move here?

As a postgraduate in 1993 to study a PGCE at Cardiff University.

Tell me about Catapult. Why did you decide to set it up? Give us the background to the shop – where was it first, then about the various places it moved to?

Catapult Records started from my car boot and grew organically from there. Friends had a record shop in Exeter; they supplied me with stock, which I brought to Wales. With support from the Prince’s Trust in 1993 I launched Catapult from a stall in the Castle Arcade Emporium, with a Sony music centre and weekly rental bill of £15. People liked the selection, the ability to listen to records and the general social vibe. We quickly outgrew the space and moved to a unit in the High Street Arcade (via Sidewalk/White Doves basement).  

There were 10 people servicing the Catapult counters at the shop’s peak, crawling over one another grabbing vinyl in a confined space which often felt like a big game of Twister. A broad customer base traveled from far and wide in search of specialist dance music; there was a real community feel that supported the shop. The priority was on service, including the provision of 10 technic 1210 turntable listening posts for customers to trial records before purchase, often for hours, and this is what helped set Catapult apart. Much of our trade came from “regulars”, many of whom became and still are close friends. There’s a book in me somewhere about all the colourful characters we had in over the years.

At the time, Catapult won the Western Mail Welsh Small Business of the Year Award, and become ambassadors for the Prince’s Trust. I went to St James Palace to meet with Prince Charles, which was an experience. Start-up support, especially mentoring, was key to the shop’s success; it was a great shame that the Trust lost its ability to fund new businesses around this time. Today they remain a pioneering charity supporting young people, which I still endorse and support.

It was around this time that I met Simon Thomas after being introduced by Iestyn George who I was curating music for at Union-Undeb, a members’ club, opened by the manager of the Manic Street Preachers. This meeting was a real catalyst as anyone who knows Simon knows how driven and full of amazing ideas he is, coupled with an almost incomprehensible thirst for knowledge.

I love a new project and Catapult provided abundant  opportunities to diversify and explore new territories. Over two decades, Catapult developed multiple sub-brands, expanding the product proposition from retail into fashion, events, label management & education.

The company launched record label “Catapult Records” as a direct response to the lack of physical electronic releases available for Independent Record Store Day. The label focused on Welsh artists and the vinyl format, which became a unique selling point amongst a growing committed audience. To date, there have been nine sold-out releases, one of which (Catapult 007, Earl Jeffers “The Goose”) was signed to Fabric London. The label’s artist Organ Grinder was in demand for remixes/live appearances/radio (Gilles Peterson) expanding the original proposition into artist management and agency.

Our homegrown clothing label “Youth of Britain” was designed, manufactured & distributed in the UK, and 2012 saw ventures into new categories, co-ordinating events, fashion and hospitality with the launch of a series of pop up street food propositions with the collective Street Food Cardiff.

As technology disrupted the vinyl world we moved to a bigger store in the Duke Street Arcade in 2011 stocking production equipment, clothing and a growing DJ School after hours. Cardiff’s Arcades provide a fertile ground for independent businesses, we are lucky to have such central, affordable space: it’s just not the case in other cities.  It is positive to see young businesses like Rock-Ola, Blue Honey & Crates thriving in the centre today.

We finally closed the doors with a heavy heart on New Year’s Eve 2014; the world had moved on with many people perceiving the value of music as “free” and it was time for a change. Retail in this climate is a real challenge.

Alongside the shop, you also put nights on. Can you tell me about those?

Events are exciting; the way the music and those shared moments connect people. I like to DJ and have been involved in an array of wondrous happenings over the years, promoting, mixing, and enjoying!

It is good to connect with the community and see the records that have been bought in Catapult working on the dancefloor. Djing is a highly skilled craft that I will never tire of. The Catapult DJ school was one of my favorite projects.

Having been inspired by my global ramblings, when I moved to Cardiff I was keen to set up some club nights in the city, especially after going to Clwb Ifor Bach (Juice Joint), which became home to Catapult’s first nights in town, a deep house affair called Overdrive. From there we moved to work with Tim Corrigan at the Emporium for a few years, a highlight being when we brought LTJ Bukem (amongst others) to the city in 1994.

We started putting regular events on again in the last few years when the Vaults venue came up. It’s such a unique space, we couldn’t resist. The time was right to introduce a wild drum’n’bass party that fed off the ethos we had with the shop. Experiencing DJs perform at the Vaults with the booth on the dancefloor is as interactive as it gets; there’s nothing tame about it. Cardiff has a wealth of musical talent, there’s an enormous energy and community spirit that comes together.

Today the Vaults is being compared with some of the UK’s most infamous night holes, like London’s Fabric and Bristol’s Motion. It’s been an amazing project to be involved with, people just love it there.

You had a lot of famous DJs do in-stores in the shop. Which were the most memorable of these?

Instores were my favorite thing to do at work. Bonobo, Drop Music, High Contrast, Vibes, Blame, Netsky, Nic Fancilliu, LTJ Bukem all came to the shop to meet their fans and drop tunes. They were all brilliant experiences. At first I couldn’t see how it was going to work in my small shop, outside a club environment (I was really worried about the crowds), but then I experienced the most unique, intimate sets: a real sense of being in the present with a small collective of hardcore enthusiasts. Music translates very differently in different spaces and anyone who attended knows how special those gigs in a small basement in Cardiff were.

Can you tell me about Cardiff’s music scene? What makes it different?

Wales is full of opportunity, often presenting unchartered territories to explore and incubate. There’s a special uniqueness about the culture, it’s a good place for tribes to thrive.

The music scene can be a hard place to operate. what’s it been like, being a music entrepreneur in Cardiff?

The music business is an unpredictable path, it’s a “people” industry, full of colorful characters, and this has been one of the greatest joys. I have worked with many talented, unique individuals who provided good company, new music, untold banter and left inspirational marks. Partnerships and collaborations have been key. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve half the things I have without a great team and this is where much of the pleasure lies. 

There’s been a whole heap of success stories from Catapult employees who made it to the top of their game: most notably High Contrast and his Olympic Opening Ceremony production in 2012. Then there’s Raeph Powell and Richie Vibe Vee at 1xtra, Cally with a glittering international DJ/Production career, Neil Cocker Dizzyjam Founder, Adam Corner music journalist, Stu Grady Graphic Designer, and Helia Phoenix who runs We Are Cardiff. This legacy makes me sincerely happy. Record shops are a great place to discover new music and people; Spotify and Amazon can’t create this kind of community.

Essentially, experience had showed me that the DIY approach works: just grasping the mantle and going for it – I’m wired that way. Today’s landscape is wholly different. The industry is unrecognisable and routes to carve your own niche are never prominent. No-one really knows how things will look in the next decade, as an exciting shift in focus has been brought about via digital culture and the possibilities are endless. 

Tell me about the courses at USW. What makes it different from other colleges? What can students expect to get out of studying here?

Today I am lucky enough to have a new career that I love with equal passion, working as part of a team at the University of South Wales in the Creative Industries sector.

At USW we offer an immersive, creative and practical grounding in music business, developed and delivered by industry experts.

Students are surrounded by artists and get involved with crafting real world projects from day one. Inspiration levels are continuously boosted with master classes and events, there’s loads of collaboration opportunities and an active community environment.

I would have relished the opportunity to study Music Business at University; these courses offer academic routes to the market that just didn’t exist 10 years ago.


Find out more about music and sound at USW

Sign up for the weekly We Are Cardiff newsletter

Check out what’s going on with We Are Cardiff Press

Like us on Facebook

Squawk @ us on Twitter @wearecardiff

Follow us on Instagram/WeAreCardiff

Theatre / food / health / the future of our planet: Chew It Over and get £100!

Interested in theatre, food, health, and the future of the planet? Join the Wellcome Trust at their event Chew It Over! at the Masonic Hall on 7 May and 2 July for two events combining all of the above – attend both, and you’ll get £100 for your troubles!


Join Chew It Over! on a voyage of discovery, starting from our current issues and views, progressing to plausible futures. The event centres around Look Left Look Right’s new play ‘What we talk about, when we talk about food.’ The play explores food from all angles, from examining how we make consumer choices to growing algae in schools. Don’t worry, no acting or role play will be required!

The event will feature experts in the field such as John Ingram, University of Oxford and Barbara Gallani Director from the Food and Drink Federation. They’ll be supporting discussions and offering views from the research and policy community. Insights from these discussions will be gathered for use in policy influencing and research. YOUR TWO PENCE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, PEOPLE!

During the event you will be opportunities to share your views and encouraged to think more deeply about how we produce, distribute, consume, store and dispose of our food.

It’s an immersive, theatrical experience where participants are invited to view a new play by awarding winning Look Left Look Right theatre group. The production is emotional and provocative, fuelling exciting discussions. We look at food in terms of its cultural elements, scientific ecology and what drives choices, as well as many other angles!

Chew it Over takes place over two days, 7 May (Act 1) and 2 July (Act 2). The days run from 10am – 4pm. The event is free and lunch and refreshments throughout the two days are provided. Spaces are limited, so be sure to sign-up now!

And as if influencing future policy on food and our planet aren’t enough, participants will get £100 for attending both Acts!

Find out more and register for The Crunch! in Cardiff

Follow #TheCrunch2016 on Twitter


Sign up for the weekly We Are Cardiff newsletter

Check out what’s going on with We Are Cardiff Press

Like us on Facebook

Squawk @ us on Twitter @wearecardiff

Follow us on Instagram/WeAreCardiff