The Wales Millennium Centre is impossible to miss. The venue’s exterior is iconic, with the building gaining international significance as a cultural landmark. The Centre is as unique and lively as the shows that are put on inside its walls.
The theatre features one large theatre, called the Donald Gordon Theatre, which seats 1,897 people. Two smaller halls reside in the Centre: BCC Hoddinott Hall, which seats 350 people, and Weston Studio Theatre, which has a capacity of 250.
Wales Millennium Centre History
An earlier project to build the Cardiff Bay Opera House gave life to the Wales Millennium Centre. The rejection of the opera led to the origin of the Centre. The Welsh Assembly and Millennium Commission funded the project.
Donations poured in to build the Centre, with Donald Gordon donating £20 million to the project.
The Centre split the donation with the Royal Opera House.
The building was constructed in two phases:
- Phase 1: The first phase included the construction of the Donald Gordon Theatre and the Weston Studio Theatre. The phase consisted of 400,000 sq. ft. of space and includes six function rooms. Rehearsal rooms and facilities were also built along with numerous bars and shops.
- Phase 2: The second phase of the building project opened in January 2009 and included the C Bay of the building. This is where the BBC National Orchestra of Wales resides. There’s also the BBC National Chorus of Wales in the building.
The Centre has since become a cultural icon and is home to numerous resident organizations.
Wales Millennium Centre Resident Organizations
Nine arts organizations reside within the Centre, including:
- National Dance Company Wales
- Torch Trust
- Hijinx Theatre
- Literature Wales
- Welsh National Opera
- Arts Council of Wales
- BBC National Orchestra of Wales
- Urdd Gobaith Cymru
- Ty Cerdd
The rear of the building houses many of the organization offices on the list.
Fun and exciting productions are always on at the Centre, and the schedules are subject to change. There’s a lot to do at the venue, including:
- Shows – the main attraction
- Free performances – they’re infrequent, but fun
Shows are held in all three interior rooms (the theatre and halls). Some of the most exciting productions that are playing at the venue, include:
- Mary Poppins
- Sunny Afternoon
- Great Brits 1
- Welsh National Opera (numerous performances)
- Pride and Prejudice
- Huw V Williams
- Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience
- Julia Biel
- Youth Dance Night
- Hello Cabaret
- International Women’s Day
- Ignite Cardiff Deluxe
- Sue Perkins Live! In Spectacles
- Justin’s Party
- Romeo and Juliet
- Sister Act
And this is just a small sampling of the dozens of shows that have been announced.
Accessibility and Access
The Wales Millennium Centre is built with accessibility in mind. Guests who are in wheelchairs or need special assistance will find that the building is fully accessible. Level access is available, with lifts to every floor.
Guests with special requirements can call in advance to ensure that their stay is as pleasant as possible.
Families will enjoy baby changing stations, too. Guests can enjoy:
- Assisted performances
- Audio-described performances
- Touch tours
- BSL performances
- Captioned performances
There are facilities for the hearing or visually impaired, too. Disabled car parking is provided to make getting to the show easy.
Families that visit the Centre can enjoy Family Saturdays. This is a craft workshop that goes on every Saturday from 11am – 4pm. The event is free and open to everyone, so if you’re not seeing a show, you can still plan something to do.
Toddler time is provided 11am – 2:30pm daily and includes free admission. Little ones can sing and dance as long as they’re between the ages of 0 and 5.
Food and Drink
Food and drink are plentiful, and guests can enjoy casual or pre-show dining. There’s plenty to pick from when going to the Centre:
- Fresh Bar & Restaurant: A delightful restaurant and bar that features the best of Welsh cuisine. The restaurant believes in seasonal, quality cooking and impeccable service.
- Foyer Bars: Enjoy a drink before the performance, or buy interval drinks to lighten up the mood.
- One: A contemporary wine bar that also has delectable tapas to nibble on before a show. Local wines are in stock as well as international wines.
- Hufen: Snacks, coffee and ice cream are served at Hufen. This is a great place to go for a quick jolt of caffeine before a show, or to treat the kids to an ice cream sundae.
- Crema: A coffee shop that is filled with aroma, cappuccinos and other caffeine-filled drinks to enjoy.
The tourist information centre will provide you with a complete list of things to do when visiting.
Wales Millennium Centre offers seasonal brochures and guides to help guests learn about upcoming show. The venue’s close location to eateries and the bay make it a good choice for guests that are visiting the city for the first time.