Green Man 2016 festival in review – Saturday and Sunday


Given the late Friday night, we woke up feeling extremely pleased we had booked ourselves two hours in a hot tub. Bathing Under the Sky do wood-fired hot tubs in wooden tubs (with some VIP tubs on the upper deck of a bus), and for the past few years have been situated on the edge of the Nature Nurture health and spirituality area in Green Man (it’s a lovely tranquil space where you go to do yoga or get pummelled by a masseuse).

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And while slowly boiling in hot water might not sound like a great way to spend a couple of hours at a festival, it was worth every penny. You get to have a nice hot shower before We lucked out by joining a lovely couple from London in the tub (I stupidly only wrote down her name and forgot his – so hello Jess, if you’re reading this!), and felt pretty smug about the intermittent downpours while we were happily sipping gin and tonics and listening to the Deep Throat Choir, who had just started on the main stage.

The afternoon was then mostly spent in Einstein’s Garden, where we learned the following: how viruses could spread with the Llama Control centre; how the weather works (they also provided a live weather update on a blackboard for festival goers to plan waterproof outfits); and how propulsion works.

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Speaking of the weather … you can’t avoid talking about it, can you? Especially not at a festival. For much of Saturday, there were announcements on all stages for people to make sure their tents were tied down, as gale force winds threatened to blow through the site. Dear god, we prayed, as we downed our fourth (or fifth? We stopped counting after the first) Growler (the Official Festival Beer) … please don’t let our tent be blown away before we’ve seen the man burn tomorrow night!

On Saturday night, we were excited for headliner Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, but they seemed to lack something without Jade in the band. Bored halfway through, we wandered up to Far Out to have our heads blown off by Jagwar Ma’s next level live show. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but think electronic techno strobe light vibes.

We then headed back to Chai Wallahs to see the crazy energetic They Say Jump, followed by Parker & Moneyshot’s fast-paced ADHD cut and paste hip-pop disco.

After this it was back to Round The Twist, where the Alfresco Disco were pumping out some current house bangers with the odd classic thrown in (we very much enjoyed Alan Braxxe, Layo & Bushwacka and Leftfield), and then down to the Walled Garden, where someone literally had to peel me off the floor when Pete Fowler played Prince’s Controversy. Awesome Tapes from Africa played a suitably tribal set that induced much rump shaking. We were left somewhere after midnight, many Growlers in, to stumble back down the hill and fall into our tent.

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The torrential rain and gale force winds never materialised, although there were (of course) occasional downpours. Sunday morning was surprisingly sunny, and so, in optimistic mood, we packed waterproofs in our rucksacks, grabbed some delicious coffee from the Table Top Coffee stall (which had expanded into a Green Man franchise this year, a second location appearing next to the Rough Trade shop), and then continued to watch the National Dance Company of Wales and their performance at the Back of Beyond, a new stage designed to showcase the best in performing arts. Unfortunately, the stage had no roof and so a couple of the performances over the weekend were rained off, but thankfully we managed to catch NDCW on Sunday with their beautiful dance piece – their first ever festival performance (we must also give mentions to Flossy and Boo, Citrus Arts & Circomedia and Kitsch n Sync – all of whom entertained greatly).

We also wandered over to Salon Mirela, where a long line of festival people were waiting patiently to be bejewelled and a-glittered. We managed to catch a couple of roaming performances from Kitsch N Sync (to Eddie Murphy’s Party All the Time) and Sparkles Hoop Troop (to Sarah Brightman’s I Lost My Heart to A Starship Trooper).

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I hadn’t intended on watching any music in the afternoon, but wandered into watch probably my most stand-out band of the festival: The Moonlandingz. We had no idea who they were when they started, and my companion commented “they look like they’re from about four different bands”. Consulting the programme quickly, we realised that they are: The Moonlandingz is a ‘fictional’ band led by Sean Lennon, and at Green Man featured members of Fat White Family, Electronic Research Council and Rebecca Taylor from Slow Club (who had to peg it off 15 minutes before the end as Slow Club were about to perform on the Mountain Stage).

The Moonlandingz may be a fictional band, but they’re absolutely amazing on stage. Sean hollered, strutted and pouted his way through the set, supported by some hardcore shrieking from Rebecca and also by a bottle of red wine he swigged from every so often. The music ranged from psych to glam rock to almost metal, with my highlights being the stompy Glory Hole and nuclear-powered Sweet Saturn Mine.

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I was a bit overwhelmed by how good they had been, so we recovered with a giant plate of nachos (get them in the Mexican place opposite the Mountain Stage people – you get a lot of nacho for your cash there) and then down to the Talking Shop, where I had made a note to see author Amy Liptrot talk about her book, The Outrun.

Do you ever get occasions where you’ll see something literally everywhere – like a book, or a film? I don’t even mean through advertising – just through seeing it in shops, or Around The Internet. Anyway, over the past couple of months, that thing for me has been Amy Liptrot’s book. And so it was very frustrating to get down there and see the timings of the day had been moved around – I had missed her!

She was the only literary type person I had pencilled in to see, so even though James Yorkston was talking probably very eloquently about his book Three Caws, I was bummed, so went to pick up a copy of The Outrun from Rough Trade and then went on a wander up to Chai Wallahs, where we collapsed on the floor, Growlers in hand, while uptempo Irish gypsy folk band The Eskies inspired the raucous crowd to do some energetic dancing (considering it was Sunday afternoon). Highest point of the set was Jesus Don’t Save Me, where lead singer Ian taught the crowd the call and response chorus parts, and then sang the song all the way through with a supporting choir of hundreds of stamping people.

We stayed in Chai Wallahs to watch The Gypsies of Bohema (and very much enjoyed how they started over with a cover gypsy-style cover of Backstreet’s Back by the Backstreet Boys), and then wandered back down to see comedian Alex Horne leading The Horne Section in some musical-based interactive comedy (some impressive, some incredibly impressive – and blindfolded!).

As it started getting dark, we put on our ponchos and headed for the Mountain Stage to bop around to Belle and Sebastian, who brought the perfect mixture of nostalgic pop and catchy tunes to round off the festival. We then headed up to the relocated man, for the symbolic burning. The new location, for the record, is much better than previous years – I was nowhere near the front and could still see way more than in the past!

To round things up, we wandered over to bop around to some of surprise guest DJ Yoda, before finally stumbling home.

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While the line up may have been less ‘late night bangers’ than the last couple of years, this Green Man was every part as lovely. It’s one of the best festival weekends you can spend in this country; with so much to do, it’s almost impossible to get round to doing and seeing everything. The small size of the site means you can get from bed to bopping within minutes, and also that you’re not exhausted from traipsing for miles and miles, day after day. Green Man continues to dominate amongst small-to-medium-sized UK festivals, and we can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for next year – their 15th anniversary!

Earlybird tickets for Green Man 2017 – the 15th anniversary – go on sale September 29. Don’t miss out!

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WIN! Tickets with camping to The Good Life Experience Festival!

Further celebrating our summer of festivals, we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away for The Good Life Experience Festival!

The Good Life Experience was named as one of the best festivals in the world by Conde Naste earlier this year (and also features in our new Festival Guide).

A weekend of fun and discovery, with music, books, food, and the great outdoors, The Good Life Experience was founded by Cerys Matthews, Steve Abbott & Charlie and Caroline Gladstone. This year the line up includes Gilles Peterson, Mercury Rev DJ set, John Cooper Clarke, Cerys Matthews, Max Richter and a whole load of literary / cultural / fun activities for all the family.



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Green Man 2016 festival in review – Thursday / Friday

This was the fourteenth Green Man Festival. Can you believe it?? Green Man’s growth has been gradual and organic – from humble beginnings to being one of the most family-friendly jewels in Britain’s summer festival crown.

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This year, the family-friendly aspect is next-level: the festival teeming with kids of all ages: from new borns (I met a three week old whose parents figured they might as well be at a festival and not sleep as be at home and not sleep) to waterproof-onesie-wearing toddlers to barefoot (and very muddy) teenagers. Green Man takes its reputation as a young-person-friendly site very seriously, with the sensory science paradise of Einstein’s Garden providing hands-on entertainment for kids of all ages. There’s also a completely separate kids’ area, and activities specifically for teenagers.

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So onto the actual festival itself this year: we arrived early Thursday morning, and having treated ourselves to a ready-erected tent in the Tangerine Fields, found that we were unpacked and ready to party considerably earlier than in previous years, when we’d would typically spend two hours with two of us flailing around with an 18 man tent, ending up relying on the kindness of neighbouring campers to rescue us.

Cans at the ready, we headed straight to Chai Wallahs, where uptempo reggae/afrobeat favourites By The Rivers were getting the roof of the tent raised, warming up nicely for the weekend. Over in Far Out, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard moved into psychedelic surf rock territory, warming up for Wild Beasts, as they ran through a mixture of classics alongside brand spanking tunes from new album Boy King.

Afterwards it was back over to Chai Wallahs for some bubbling funk and soul disco numbers, before we decided to call it a night relatively early. It was only Thursday, after all.

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Given the unsettled weather forecasts, on Friday we headed straight for the comfort of the undercover (and consistently quality) Chai Wallahs, to sit with a cup of brandy chai and enjoy the delicate folk of Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow while looking at the Guardian crossword (yes, I am aware of how intensely middle class that sentence sounds, but you want the truth, right? That’s the truth). We stayed in Chai Wallahs to see the rabble rousing bluesy-jazz of the Gin Bowlers (who I had seen the week before at Boomtown, and who were every bit as good, if not better), then headed down to the Mountain Stage to watch Meilyr Jones, whose poppy, brass-led indie was a stand-out performance of the festival (despite the rain. But as my mother always says – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unprepared campers).

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We stayed to watch some Jason Isbell (which was underwhelming, so I won’t dwell on it), and then headed off to see Kamazi Washington. Our excitement at seeing the jazz legend was somewhat tempered by the 30-minute soundcheck that seemed to be focused all around one microphone, although once that was over, the set was a stormer, with plenty of jazz noodling.

The act I was most excited about seeing all weekend was Austin pop-punkers, White Denim. I used to be Reviews Editor for a music magazine called Kruger (RIP) and we’d featured them in Kruger issue 22, back in 2009, and they’d been on my list of ‘bands I super want to see’ since then. I’m not sure the show was really one of their best – given it was late Friday night, the setlist was a more mellow afternoon set, with their best uptempo numbers spaced out in between, the songs sounding like they could have benefited from getting another guitarist up on stage with them.

The crowd started thinning out, and by halfway through headliner James Blake’s set it was only half full, though this could have been to do with the severe weather warnings everyone was checking obsessively on their phones every five minutes. Over in Far Out, Lush’s power-pop was extremely pleasing, although the crowd wasn’t much bigger there either. Nicely lubricated with Growlers aplenty, it was then to a change of pace, with some comedy, where Rob Deering was having issues with his guitar while being a human jukebox for people shouting out requests.

We only managed to catch the encore of Charlotte Church’s Pop Dungeon in the Walled Garden (never thought I’d hear R. Kelly’s Murder She Wrote sung live by an ex-child opera singer in the Brecon Beacons, it must be said), before rounding up the night with some uptempo house and electro with the Alfesco Disco in Round The Twist, before smashing it up with the Asbo Disco back in Chai Wallahs.

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In the run up this year, we were informed there would be changes to the site layout, which formed much conversation between our group: one Green Man veteran, then one with three under their belt, and one total newbie to the festival. As you can imagine, the constant ‘oo! that’s moved’, and ‘that wasn’t there before’ got a bit tiring for the newcomer, so we limited all the logistical commentary to the first.

For the record though, here were our thoughts: from the Orange entrance, changes were all positive: moving the box office up the hill made it much easier to get wristbands and then go back to your car to get your stuff (although long queues from the box office spilled across the path down to the festival, making it difficult to negotiate with a wheelbarrow full of camping paraphernalia). The general camping area was extended into this area (previously unused), and also included an extra entrance into the festival, that went straight up to Babbling Tongues and Round the Twist, meaning that you didn’t have to go all the way to the entrance by the Mountain Stage: big thumbs up for this change.

On the site generally, the big field edged by Far Out and Chai Wallahs also had some changes: the line of shops and food stalls that had previously divided this space in half had completely gone, moved to line the route from Far Out over to Round The Twist. The “Man” (as in, the green one) was now fairly central in this field, meaning a much better view for everyone when he was set alight on the Sunday. As a small person who has never managed to get to the front to watch the man burn, this change got another big thumbs up from me.

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Part Two of our review coming soon!

Check the Green Man Festival website. 


Get your nom on! Street Food Circus back for the August Bank Holiday Fiesta!

Does anyone else feel like this year has been a crazy indulgent mess of a year so far?? This morning I seriously considered getting myself one of those calorie-counter apps … until I realised:

a) it’s the weekend

b) Street Food Circus is on


So I’m just going to forget about it and stuff myself until you guys need to break down the wall of my house to lift me out with a crane.

Anyway, on with the show … the Street Food Circus is BACK in Sophia Gardens this weekend, for their Bank Holiday Fiesta! Open Thursday – Monday this weekend (details at the bottom of this post) in Sophia Gardens, Bute Park.

EAT THE STREET! Introducing the Street Food Circus’ £5 taster menu!

Here’s what you’ll be able to scoff this weekend …
Bearded Taco
Gin & Tonic Tempura avocado taco topped with honey and lemon slaw and chipotle aioli served with salted tortilla chips and homemade salsa (v)

Brother Thai
Thai Roti – A freshly cooked soft and flaky paratha with your filling of choice, Thai herbs and salad slaw with pickle dressing. (vo)

Brulee Bar
Madagascan Vanilla creme brulee with fresh strawberries, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and shortbread biscuit. (v)

Big Fish Little Fish
Crab flatbread smothered in garlic butter served with crispy sweet chilli slaw

Cheese Truck
Fondue fries – Three Cheese fondue sauce over golden fries (v)

Shawarma lamb with mint yoghurt and roasted butternut squash

Dirty Bird
Dirty Posh Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Parmesan, Truffle oil, Chives and Pickled Celery

Dusty Knuckle
Deconstructed pizza with ferment’s, pickles and slaws (vo)

Early Bird Bakery
Mini brioche doughnut bites with Halen Mon salted caramel, banana cream & candied walnuts (v)

Ffwrness (on rotation)
Snacking Salami & Bruschetta (vo)

Gopals Curry Shack
Pakora Chaat salad box-mini pakoras, Masala dhal, jaipur slaw, mint & coriander chutney, yogurt, chaat Masala & pomegranate, red onion and coriander garnish (v)

Got Beef
PBNBJ- Peanut butter, beer jelly, American cheese, bacon, Welsh black, secret sauce and crispy onions.

Hang Fire (Fri/Sat Only)
Louisiana Red Gumbo served in a bread bowl

Ice Green
The Lemon Meringue Waffle:
1 waffle with lemon curd vegan ice cream and crushed meringue pieces. (v) (gf)

La Ffogga
Original Raclette, Grilled Cheese avalanched over a bed of new potatoes with gherkins and pickled onions (v)

Little Bao Peep
Red Pulled Pork, Wasabi Mayo, Pickled Cucumber, Peanut & Oreo Powder

Lola’s Wings
Bleu cheese fries topped with a saucy wing

Meat & Greek
Keftedes – Greek Cypriot meatballs handmade and deep fried served with a lemon wedge.

Mighty Soft Shell Crab
Soft Shell Crab Tempura with sweet chilli sauce

Mr Croquewich
Petit Croquewich served with potato croquettes, reblochon cheese dipping sauce and sweet pickled vegetables (v)

Deep Fried beef shin and Gruyere bites

Pickled Brisket
Salt Beef glazed brioche slider x2 with choice of pickles and cheese.

Pork Society
Confit belly bites, Asian veg and chilli soy dressing.

Purple Poppadom
Slow cooked beef brisket two ways with aromatic spices, homemade leavened bread, pickles, chutney and gram flour vermicelli

Pregos Street Food
Griddled Chicken Piri Piri and grilled pepper wrap

Science Ice Cream
Handmade ice cream malted chocolate chip sandwich (v)

Sea Dogs
Seaside Popcorn, Crispy Mussels, cockles and fish with pickled slaw. Chilli vinegar and cornish seaweed salt (BSFA winner 2015)

Slowpig (on rotation)
Nduja Scotch Egg / Lettuce wrap (pork or lamb) / Charcuterie plate, pickled rhubarb
Scratchings, pickled apple / Pig’s head nuggets, pickled blackberries / Albondigas

Spanish Buffet
Vegan Paella with seasonal veg, rice and beans (v)

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen
Spiced vegan bean stew with jollof rice and caramelised plantain chips. (v)


Opening hours:

Thursday: 5pm – 11pm
Friday: 5pm – 11pm
Saturday: 2pm – 11pm
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm
Monday: 12pm – 6pm

* 20 of the tastiest independent street food traders
* £5 taster dishes from every trader
* Craft cider, beer and ales
* SFC Margaritas
* Circus Big Top Dining
* Singha Street – Asian food area
* Easy Parking
* Guest DJs and busking bands
* Milgi Pop-Up Restuarants
* Feast Clwb Thursdays

A festival vibe in the heart of the Cardiff! More taste, More Flavour

Location: Sophia Gardens
We’re next to the National Express Coach Station, follow the River Taff and look for the BigTop.

For more info visit



Senedd family fun weekend!

How many other countries have Parliament buildings you can have family fun weekends in? I don’t know many. But we have one!

Wales’ National Assembly is based in one of the most beautiful buildings in Cardiff Bay, the Richard Rogers-designed Senedd (Welsh for ‘parliament’), which is open to the public for tours, has a viewing gallery where you can see ACTUAL LAWS being passed, and has a very pleasant cafe.

Details: Senedd Summer Fun Weekend! (Facebook event)
27-29 August 2016

Address: National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF99 1NA

Here’s more about the family fun weekend – a continuation of the Senedd’s tenth birthday celebrations!

Senedd Family fun weekend

The Senedd is the home of National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay. Open to the public seven days a week, its distinctive design and incredible architecture attract visitors from all over the world, and in 2015 the building was awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

The weekend will be full of games and activities for all ages, including a soft play area, Lego building, carnival games, arts and crafts and face painting. There will also be a special Senedd treasure hunt, with prizes to be won.

There will be musical performances  each day with a local choir or vocal group entertaining the visitors while they enjoy a drink in our Oriel Café with a free Welsh cake! The café boasts some incredible views over Cardiff Bay and is a beautiful space to relax and enjoy your day.

Free guided tours of the building will be running every 30 minutes, where you can learn about the building’s fascinating history, architecture and sustainability. You could also find out who your Assembly Members are and how they represent your interests in the Senedd’s debating chamber.

A special, one off exhibition has been created especially for this weekend titled ‘My Welsh Life’. It was created by Craft of Hearts Community Craft Centre to celebrate Welsh culture, history and heritage. Craft of Hearts will also be in the Senedd over the weekend providing crafting workshops and demonstrations.

Travel information: The bendy bus leaves from Cardiff Queen Street Station and Cardiff Central station every 10 minutes. Train services are every 12 minutes from Cardiff Queen Street Station to Cardiff Bay Station. The station is a few minutes’ walk from the Senedd. Leave the M4 at junction 33, follow the A4232 to Cardiff bay and follow signposts to National Assembly for Wales. By Bike/foot, the Taff Trail from Brecon through Cardiff city centre to Cardiff bay ends at the oval basin outside the Senedd.

For more information about the event, please contact the Senedd on 0300 200 6565 or email

If you can’t make this weekend, the Senedd is open seven days a week (including weekends and bank holidays).

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HUB Festival ’16 – all the music you can eat in Cardiff this Bank Holiday weekend

August Bank holiday weekend in Cardiff promises a veritable smorgasbord of musical delights, as HUB Festival returns to Womanby Street with an extended selection of music, comedy and poetry!

HUB Festival 2016

Looks pretty incredible, right?? Tickets are a mindblowing £12 per day or just £20 for the full weekend!

Keep up to date with all news at the HUB Festival 2016 – Facebook event page

In the meantime, here are HUB Festival’s vital statistics …

HUB FESTIVAL 2016 – 200+ acts, 12 stages, 3 days – music, art, performance!

Tickets are £20 for 3 – days, on sale in Spillers Records, Diverse Music,Bristol Ticket Shop, WeGotTickets, SEE Tickets

THE STAGES: The Full Moon, The Moon Club, FUEL ROCK CLUB, Clwb Ifor Bach, Four Bars at Dempseys, Urban Tap House Cardiff, City Arms, Cardiff, Dempseys, Busker’s Revenge Pirate Ship and our Outdoor Stage!

The Wave Pictures, RICHARD DAWSON, Johnny Cage & The Voodoogroove, Junior Bill, Crinkle Cuts, Hipicat, Desert Storm, We’re No Heroes, Sigiriya, Cowboy and the Corpse, Climbing Trees, Maddie Jones,Featherjaw, Lacertilia, Quiet Marauder, A N i • G L A S S, Harri Davies Music, Fingertrap, Heil Zilla, GOAN DOGS, Clay Statues, Tendons,Roughion, Boris a Bono, Pizzatramp, MY NAME IS IAN, Rainbow Maniac,Tides Of Sulfur, Mumbleman, Tommy & The Trouble, Winter Coat, Shop Girls, Heavy Flames, Aaronson, Bryde, Luk, HVNTER, Matthew Frederick,The Marks Cartel, Meilir, V A I L S, HOMES, The Johnstown Flood,Kookamunga, Seas Of Mirth, Punks not dad, VAN-illa, Thee Manatees,Dave Morris and the Knock, HODAD, Grand Tradition, This Is Wreckage,Local Enemy, Esuna, OldSamuel, Dead In The Water, La Forme, The Irascibles, Sophie Lynch and the Special FriendsFountainhead, Soviets, Great Revelations, Nuclear Lullaby, Rozelle, Everything by Electricity, Keto,Chloe Foy, Joe Bayliss, Grace Hartrey, The Fused, Alex Stacey, Cameron Trowbridge, The Sonny Bonds Duo, Welcome Back Delta, Eleri Angharad,Ellie Parris, Capra Mamei, Ofelia, Think Pretty, Sam Fowke Music, Blood Lips, Matt Troy, Fran Murphy, Mark Curtis, Fran Smith, Fritz O’Skennick, Clive Oseman, Mario Fiorrillo Umberto, Terri Hoskings, Gareth Davies, Natasha Borden, Will Ford, Ellie Powell, Georgia Paterson – Singer/Songwriter, To Bear Sir

CURATORS INCLUDE: All My Friends, BlueBox Promotions, Bubblewrap Collective, Blue Honey, Electric Harmony, LUCKYMAN RECORDS, Pi and Hash Music, The Psychedelic Priests, Radio Glamorgan, Rockpie, Sound Affects PR, The Hold Up, Young Promoters Network

This year sees the addition of a beer festival featuring local craft brewers, a new street presentation with designers decorating the area, as well as musicians, poets, comedians, performing arts and street food.

Too many artists for you to keep up with? HUB have made a handy Soundcloud page, giving you a ‘greatest hits’ of this year’s bands. Put it on and let the music wash all over you!

See you down the front


Ask Cardiff! The residents survey 2016

Bin collections getting you down? Sick of cycling on lanes that are more pothole than path?

Well, ‘Ask Cardiff’ – the annual ‘have a moan at the council and remain unsure about whether they actually do anything about it’ consultation is open to the public NOW. It closes on 11 September.

And in all seriousness, if you give any amount of a hoot about “what Cardiff does for you”, then make yourself a cuppa and 15 minutes to fill this thing in.

Access the 2016 Ask Cardiff survey.

This year they’re even offering a whole bunch of prizes for people who take part! We’re talking afternoon teas, white water rafting, and entry to the Dr Who Experience and Techniquest, amongst other things …

So go fill it in! And send it to everyone you know. The only way things will change are if we all complain about them enough, you know …


Talking the Rules of Play with Ian Davies

Cardiff is a playful city for sure – look no further than the city’s hub for gamers, the Rules of Play. We caught up with co-owner Ian Davies for some insight into how the shop was set up, and more about their gaming events.

rules of play

I’ve lived in Cardiff since 31 December 1999. I remember the exact day because I moved to Cardiff, from London, for a Manics gig. We drove everything up, unpacked the van and went straight to the show. I’m from Pontypool originally. I lived in Cardiff for a short time, about a year, in my early 20s so I knew Cardiff before I moved down here permanently.

I went to university in London, to Goldsmiths College, and stayed living and working in sales and marketing there until I moved back. When I first moved to Cardiff I lived in Roath, but we bought a house in Canton and that’s where I live now.

I grew up in Pontypool – some people say its a rubbish place but I had a great childhood there. Everything was a lot freer back then, so there was a lot of mucking around in the park, exploring the canal, taking your bikes up to the common, going and watching Pontypool Front Row play rugby. Most of my childhood in Pontypool was spent outdoors hanging out and exploring.

Kids aren’t as feral as they used to be and, in some ways, they need to be a little bit more feral – but it’s just not the way things are now. My boy is 10 and he goes to the park but he has a phone with him and he has to let us know what time he’s coming home and ring us if he’s coming home late. When I was his age I was jumping on trains to Bristol, or cycling to Usk 10 miles away. And my dad was telling me that at the same age he would be cycling to Gloucester.

Me and my mate Steve, who is one of the other owners, were gamers when we were kids. We always talked about owning a game shop ‘when we were adults’. In 2010 we found out that the old game shop in Cardiff – Cardiff Games – was closing down. We thought ‘if we don’t do it now it just ain’t going to happen’. We made a few phone calls, put a business plan together and we just decided to go for it. We had wanted to do it for a long time and this opportunity came up.

I think being someone who has always enjoyed playing different types of of games has helped the growth of Rules Of Play, along with the boom in the board game market in the last four or five years.

I also think being in Cardiff really helps, as the city is full of people who are interested in playing table top games, but wouldn’t consider themselves ‘gamers’ (such as students and families).

Playing games is an important part of life. There’s been a recent boom, boom not necessarily with board game enthusiasts – more with people who like to play games but wouldn’t call themselves hobbyists. It’s just become more acceptable. You can invite friends over to play a game, you don’t have to play on your own. Or you can go down to Chapter Arts Centre or the Lansdowne and it’s not unusual to see somebody playing a board game there.

Games are now are in popular culture. You have Jan Vertonghen, a Tottenham Hotspur player, tweeting about playing Settlers Of Catan.

I think the gaming industry has also realised it has to grow up and appeal more to the mainstream. So there are party games, games like Ticket To Ride which you can easily teach to people who don’t play board games. Or games like Dixit, which are gorgeous and imaginative.

My hopes for the next few years is to have more shops, both in Cardiff and other place, and to host more events. More school, library and mainstream events that everyone can get involved in and enjoy. I would also love to have a board game cafe, I think that would be a natural progression for the shop.

I guess my favourite past time is spending time with my kids. They’re 10, 8 and 6 and I enjoy spending time with them, taking them to football and taekwondo and – obviously – playing board games with them. At the moment my youngest one loves playing Tally Ho! and UNO. The middle one’s favourite is Forbidden Island and Ticket To Ride. Me and my eldest boy, whose 10, play lots of Star Wars X-Wing together. As a family we’ll sit down and play the best ‘pick on dad’ games.

I love being in Cardiff. I love any of Cardiff’s green spaces! I’m lucky because I have Victoria Park, Thompsons Park and Pontcanna Fields all within a couple of minutes walk from me. With three kids you can do anything in Cardiff and there’s no excuse not to. There’s Roath Park, going to Cardiff Bay, going into the museums, visiting the castle. You can go swimming, white water rafting, rock climbing, trampolining, horse riding. Anything is available for kids now and that’s not even including sport! If you want to play rugby, football, cricket then you’ve got some of the best facilities in the country right in Cardiff city centre.

Ian’s Cardiff picks:

Favourite shop: “I don’t have a lot of spare time to enjoy Cardiff’s shops but it’s always fun going in the lego shop because you can be a big kid in the Lego shop!”

Favourite place to eat out? “I really love Chai Street Cafe at the moment. I enjoy having a street foodie feel in a restaurant setting.”

What’s good about your neighbourhood? “Canton has everything that I want so close to town. I can cycle into town, take the kids to the park, go down to the Lansdowne for real ale pint, go to the theatre and cinema in Chapter. That’s what I like about where I live, it’s got everything I want.”

If you had friends visiting Cardiff for the weekend, what would you suggest they do? “Usually when friends visit they have kids so we’ll take them to Techniquest, grab some coffee in Penarth or get the bikes up and cycle up the Taf trail.”

Ian Rules Of Play

Thanks Ian! Make sure to visit The Rules of Play at 29 Castle Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1BW.

Rules of Play website

Rules of Play Facebook

Rules of Play Twitter


Boomtown Fair 2016 – in review

In mid August, on what turned out to be one of the hottest weekends of the summer We Are Cardiff hit the road, heading for the bright lights and big city of one of the best independent festivals in the south west: Boomtown. In our trusty campervan Daisy, we rocked up onsite and found a slither of space in the camper field, applied lashings of glitter, made friends with the people parked up next to us who were all dressed up as hot dogs, and then danced and pranced our way through the weekend. It was an incredible, absolutely mental, totally wonderful weekend.

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Boomtown has come a long way from its humble beginnings: a couple of hundred people at a secret location in the Forest of Dean, populated almost entirely by party-hearties from Bristol and Cardiff and all those spaces in between. Since 2009, the festival has grown to become one of the UK’s wildest and most inspiring. To get some idea of how the festival has grown, check out our interview with Cardiff boy Kaptin: Boomtown’s Head of Music.

Boomtown is a complete feast for those who love the theatrical parts of other festivals. At Boomtown, theatrics is everything (and everywhere). At times, wandering around the city at night, bleary-eyed and with beer in hand it feels very much like you are actually stumbling around some crazy dystopian metropolis.

All around you are intricately built stage sets: street after street connected together with hundreds of tiny venues and shops and art galleries – even a job centre. NB: at night time the Job Centre turns into a venue, and was my favourite place for dancing throughout the whole weekend. Urban75 have a great piece discussing  the madness of the Job Centre – long may it continue! (Urban75 – The Madness of the Boomtown Job Centre).


The story of the growth of the festival actually a part of its narrative: something that keen-eyed fans can follow online before the event, and then witness in person throughout the weekend with a series of staged events that progress the storyline.

BoomTown started out as a humble village fair, and this year, in Chapter 8: The Revolution Starts Now, we joined the story as the divide between rich and poor has become ever greater, and with discontent and unrest spreading throughout the barrios and districts of Boomtown. Mayor Comrade Jose has been brainwashed and facing a coup, she introduces conscription and the city is covered in propaganda as she struggles to retain control. Then there’s the Sheriff, struggling to regain his place as the hidden leader behind the regime of Comrade Jose. And THEN there are all the rebels gathering in the shadows to destroy those who seek to rule them …

See? There’s a lot going on. One one hand, you can turn up not knowing a single thing about Comrade Jose or indeed anything about the story and still have an absolutely blinding weekend, enjoying one of the most intricately constructed festivals on a bigger scale than anything you’d probably find anywhere else in the world. On the other, knowing about the story that’s taking place throughout the weekend adds nuanced depths to everything that you see around you. It’s something that you might have only found in tiny corners of other festivals: in the big top, or in the circus field.

But at Boomtown, it’s everywhere: the theatricality and narrative structure are the central heartbeat for why the festival has expanded in the way that it has: with nine districts (that’s nine totally separate areas, with different music policies, different buildings, different venues – completely different!).

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Now we’ve explained the background, Our Boomtown experience went down a little something like this. We tried in vain to make our way around every district and explore fully, but what seemed like hundreds of venues dotted around every corner, it was impossible to get into everything.

With our trusty programme in hand (half set list times, half beautifully designed comic book), we spent most of Friday wandering around in a daze, being absolutely overwhelmed by how amazing everything was and getting repeatedly lost while trying to wander anywhere other than the central drag of the Old Town, Town Centre, Wild West and Mayfair Avenue, which are all linked together.



On Saturday we made more of an effort to explore the site, and realised that on Thursday and Friday we had barely scratched the surface. We headed straight for the glamorous and beautifully turned out Chinatown, the dystopian future of Dstrkt 5 and the full-on, oversized wonder of Barrio Loco. We tripped over a tiny punk stage, got beeped at by a very slow moving London taxi covered in mosaics, went on fairground rides until we felt sick, danced to techno surrounded by giant shipping containers and bounced around to UK bass and drum & bass. Boomtown is like a giant playground for over sized, over stimulated children.


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It’s really very difficult to get across the scale of Boomtown. I mean, the place is absolutely huge. There are a couple of stages that easily hold in excess of five thousand people (including the Lion’s Den, the UK’s biggest festival reggae stage, which was amazing), but there are so many other stages that even the programme didn’t have all the venues listed.

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One of my favourite accidental venue discoveries was the forest parties. In between the main areas of the festival are a number of stages hidden away in the woods. It was in one of these clearings that we happened upon the Tribe of Frog area, with some incredible pounding beats with live female vocalist. Normally the mention of psytrance makes me run for the hills, but this was amazing. The ground was covered in sand, the trees covered with fairy lights and sculptures hanging from them, and the sun was blazing. Make no mistake – we were at a beach party in Thailand in the 1990s, and Psibindi – this classically trained Indian singer – was our DJ.

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Other highlights of the weekend included seeing Madness on Saturday night, with a full capacity crowd at the Lion’s Den of 20,000 people, and then losing our minds in the Job Centre for a good few hours worth of jigging about to B Squared – actually DJs Mikey B and Krissi B tag teaming on some of the best UK garage, bass and breaks I have ever heard … and I strongly suggest you check them out if driving, pounding UK bass with an underlying hint of techno is your thing. What topped it off was the MC and his slick lyrics: “job centre skankas! pick up ya giro”, and so on. Well played, Boomtown. Well played.

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On Sunday, we spent most of the day at Whistler’s Green, a newly expanded part of the city that’s also the highest point, and makes for an amazing viewpoint down over the other parts. Whistler’s Green has a considerably more chilled out vibe to the rest of the place, with venues like the Lizard Cafe providing a nice mixture of jazz, blues and folk that gave some respite from the automated beats of the bigger venues.

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Wandering around the festival is the most surreal experience, and was my favourite part: almost everyone is in fancy dress. Everywhere you turn there is pop-up street theatre or performance in between the named venues.  We came across fire breathers, sword swallowers, bands singing Irish sea shanties … we were entertained with something new and fabulous with every step we took. It proved extremely difficult to actually get anywhere, and is difficult to report exactly what we saw, as my notes afterwards just consisted of things like ‘awesome bar Wild West balearic house‘ and ‘tiny rum shack Mayfair rock n roll band?’. Which makes for a great experience, but not a very comprehensive review (unfortunately!) – but there in lies the beauty of Boomtown.

There are so many wonderful distractions everywhere: you might want to run off to Sector 6 to see So Solid Crew, but you might amble down there, and be whisked off into some magical alternative reality for a couple of hours instead.

If you love your music festivals with an immersive, theatrical finish, then you will love Boomtown. Watch the Chapter 8 video, and set your alarm for 1st November when early bird tickets for next year go on sale!

Boomtown: Chapter 9 will take place on 10-13th August 2017. Earlybird tickets will go on sale on 1st November via Boomtown website: tickets. Set those alarms, people!

Stay in the loop via social media pages:

Boomtown Facebook

Boomtown Twitter

Boomtown Instagram

Boomtown: Facebook Chapter 9 Event Page

Boomtown Fair 2016, Chapter 8: photo blog

We are still processing the thoroughly awesome, AWESOME experience that was Boomtown Fair … but while we prepare our report, feast your eyes on this!

We know there were a whole bunch of the Welsh contingent there – we ended up camped next to some boys from Newport, of course, and met a whole bunch of set designers / glitter artists / DJs and all sorts from fair Cymru.

We hope you all had a safe and enjoyable festival.

In the meantime, enjoy these visual delights … and get yourselves ready for Green Man!

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BoomTown Fair website


Distraction Pieces – Huw Stephens talks Cardiff (amongst other things)

Huw Stephens. Champion of new music, voice of Radio One on weeknights, Monday to Wednesday. One of Cardiff’s favourite sons and best exports, and official Friend of We Are Cardiff.

Last year, Huw was on Scroobius Pip’s podcast, Distraction Pieces. It’s a really interesting listen, where Huw talks about his early days in Cardiff, including his early years, a love of magic, Welsh language, the Eisteddfod, Gwenno, his early record label endeavours, starting out in radio, Gorky’s, SFA, Catatonia, hospital radio, Radio One Wales, devolution, plus a billion more things.

Listen to Scroobius Pip / Huw Stephens Distraction pieces (or click the image below)


It’s a really good listen. From a personal perspective, I recommend you skip forwards to 1.03:20, where they talk about Kruger Magazine, the Cardiff music magazine that ran from 2004 – 2010, where I cut my music journo chops. RIP.

Huw on Twitter @HuwStephens

Huw’s BBC profile


Oh – Huw also did the voiceover introduction to the little film we made about Cardiff. Have you seen it? It’s really rather good, if we do say so ourselves. Watch below:

Big up.

PS I do realise that podcast was released last year, and I CANNOT believe how long it’s taken me to post this … but anyway! Enjoy!


Instagramming the Diff

For all the photo sharing addicts out there … there have been some cracking shots of the city over the past month. I was going to do a post profiling just one Instagrammer, but you’re all too good! So here we go – summer in the city, through your images.

View this post on Instagram

Amie + Josh

A post shared by Elaine Williams (@elainewilliamsphoto) on

View this post on Instagram

Hoop dreams

A post shared by Thom (@thomas.madhavan) on


Finishing up with this one. Recognise her? She’s American, and off the telly or something …

If you’re keen for lovely pics of the city, don’t forget to follow IgersCardiff – they share the best of the rest and arrange Instameets where you can wander around and enjoy the city with fellow photography enthusiasts!

We Are Cardiff is on Instagram. At the moment we’re handing over our Instagram account to a different Cardiffian every month. Wanna play? Email us or send us a DM on Instagram.