Cardiff’s Christmas Advent Calendar: 24 Christmassy things to do in Cardiff this December
The ultimate guide to Christmas in Cardiff (particularly if you’re a student)
Cardiff is never short of things to see and do in the build-up to Christmas, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of everything that’s going on. If you’re looking for inspiration for things to do in the lead-up to Christmas, we’ve made a list of 24 things you could do with friends or by yourself. We’ve got some classics featured like Winter Wonderland and the Christmas Market plus some other hidden gems you may not have thought of, enjoy!
1. Christmas Market
Cardiff’s Christmas Market is a highlight every year of the city’s festive celebrations and is always a fun experience. With stalls featuring handmade jewellery, festive snacks and flavoured gins, there are plenty of things to choose from. You can find stalls near St Davids on the Hayes, opposite Urban Outfitters and on Working Street, near the entrance to the Queen’s arcade.
The Market is running until November 23rd and is open on Monday – Saturday between 10am to 6pm and on Sundays from 10am to 5pm. More information can be found here.
2. Bingo Lingo Christmas Special
On the 8th of December, the SU is hosting their very own Christmas version of Bingo Lingo. Ticket prices range from £6-£10 on the Fatsoma website and they are selling out quickly! If you have never been to a Bingo Lingo event before, it is bingo in a fast-paced club environment, with great sing-along songs, weird and wonderful prizes, and lots of opportunities to get up on stage! There are also plenty of opportunities to catch Christmas Bingo Lingo at Depot if you can’t make it to their SU event and you might even get a free balloon hat if you’re lucky.
3. Winter Wonderland
Is there anything more iconic than Winter Wonderland in the run-up to Christmas? You could take in the sights of Cardiff on the Ferris wheel or try your luck winning a stuffed animal. For the thrill-seekers out there, there are plenty of rides you could try out. Whatever you do, make sure you get the classic photo under the Ferris wheel with a hot chocolate with your friends.
You can find Winter Wonderland on City Hall Lawns and it’s open until January 8th 2023, from 11am to 10pm daily. Find more information here.
4. Making your own Christmas decorations
For those who like to get in touch with their crafty side at Christmas, you could try making your own Christmas decorations. You never know what you might have lying around the house that you could repurpose into some festive items. If you’re in need of some inspiration, there are plenty of ideas on TikTok and Pinterest! You could include your friends in making decorations and you could turn your home into the most festive of spaces!
5. Ice Skating
This year, Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland has set up an ice rink in two locations, on the grounds of Cardiff Castle and on City Hall Lawn. The undercover ice rink at Cardiff Castle features a 150 metre Ice Walk which is suitable for all abilities. A perfect opportunity to socialize or organize a society social, why not check out both locations?
Both locations are open daily until January 8th 2023, from 11am to 10pm. You can book tickets here.
6. Christmas at Bute Park
Following a successful first year, Christmas at Bute Park has returned this Christmas. Running until January 1st 2023, you can experience the magic for yourself where you’ll see Bute Park transformed into technicolour worthy of a fairy-tale. The trail is a 1.4k route, and you can stop at the numerous food and drink stalls along the way. Tickets are on the pricey side at £19.50 each for an adult, but trust us when we say it’s worth it.
Tickets can be booked here.
7. Starbucks’ Festive Drinks
Starbucks is back with their festive range of drinks for Christmas served in the iconic Starbucks red cups. They never fail when it comes to their seasonal drinks and 2022 is no exception. This year the Caramel Waffle Latte, Toffee Nut Latte and the Praline Cookie Hot Chocolate feature on the menu and they’ll be available until around the second week of January. Get them while you can!
8. Cardiff Castle Winter Wonderland
In addition to the City Hall location, Cardiff Castle is hosting Winter Wonderland in the heart of Cardiff this year until Sunday 8th January. There will be numerous food vendors available where you can find a delicious roast dinner wrap in a Yorkshire pudding or toast some marshmallows over an open fire. There are also some Christmas-themed light installations to pose with plus the ice skating rink where you can watch your mates shuffle around with a penguin helper.
You can find more information here
9. Christmas Dinner
If you love a Christmas Dinner but can’t be bothered to cook then we’ve got you sorted. The Taf is hosting a three course Christmas Dinner on Sunday 10th December, between 6pm to 7:30pm. Every meal comes with a complimentary VK, so there’s really no reason to not go. Why not take your housemates along with you? Reserve your spot for £3.50 here
10. Christmas Shopping in St David’s
If you’re in need of some last-minute gifts before you head home for Christmas, we’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for in St David’s. Depending on what you’re trying to find, there are plenty of choices, whether it be clothes, skincare or books. It’s open until 8pm on weekdays and until 9pm from the 17th to 23rd December.
11. Annual Santa Fun Run
On the outskirts of Cardiff, Barry Island is hosting its Annual Santa Fun Run on the 11th of December. It costs £6 for adults to sign up and children go free. All adults who participate are entitled to free a Santa Suit to run in and each participant will receive a gift bag at the end of the race. Participants should show up at 10am to sign in and collect their Santa suits and the race starts shortly after at 11am.
This year they are raising money for Young Minds, a mental health charity for children and young people, Vale People First, a self-advocacy organisation run by people with a learning disability in the Vale of Glamorgan and Llamau, a charity that works with different businesses across Wales to deliver partnerships that are beneficial and change the lives of the homeless young people and vulnerable women in Wales. It is a great event with money going to amazing causes, if you are wanting to put your running shoes and Santa suit on then this is the right event for you!
12. The Ice Bar
The Ice Bar is Wales’ first ever Ice Bar experience made with over 17 tonnes of ice, where even the shots are served in glasses made from ice. The temperature inside is kept consistently at -10 degrees to maintain the ice sculptures which means you’ll need to wear plenty of layers. During the day a standard ticket is £12 and £1 booking fee and offers a 35-minute experience and comes with coat hire, a choice of alcoholic beverage and a free shot. Tickets from 6pm onwards are £14 and £1 booking fee. Book your tickets here.
13. 12 Days of Christmas at M&S
Whilst doing my research for this article, we stumbled across a TikTok about M&S doing a 12-day advent calendar within their Sparks app where each day when you can log into the app and open a door, each one containing a different discount. Some people have even won a free bottle of Snow Globe gin, an absolute Christmas classic. If you have an account (or even if you don’t) we recommend downloading the app and getting on top of those deals, what student wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to get a free bottle of gin?
14. The Santa Experience at the Principality Stadium
This one goes for all the rugby lovers (and those who love Santa we guess). From the 2nd December up until the 24th, the Principality Stadium is transforming its Home Changing Room into Santa’s Grotto for the very first time. Ticket prices are £10 per adult, £16 for those under 16 (this ticket includes a gift from Santa) and a family ticket, which includes two adults, and two children is £40. If your family are visiting for the Holidays, then this would be a good place to go! Book a table here.
Are you even a student of Cardiff if you don’t go to YOLO? On the 15th of December, the biggest Wednesday night club night in Cardiff is going all out for their Christmas edition of the famous YOLO. It will include the student favourite full-building takeover (including a Christmas-themed silent disco) plus there will be a snow machine to really get everyone in the festive spirit and give the last YOLO of the year a big send-off! Like the usual drill with YOLO, SNOLO is free entry from 9-10 pm and then tickets are £5 from 10 pm to 12am and then £6 from 12am to 1:30am with no entry from 1:30am onwards. Also, Marvin Humes from JLS will be the DJ (just in case you needed any more incentive to go along).
16. Christmas Bottomless Brunch at Las Iguanas
If you and your friends are big on brunching (or not quite the brunch but more the cocktails it comes with) then Las Iguanas is the one for you this festive season. Their Christmas menu is running all the way from the 14th of November up until the 10th of January, with their Christmas-themed bottomless brunch is available to book every day (excluding Christmas day). It is £29.95 per head and you get a two hour time slot, bookable up until 9pm where you will get the choice of main and unlimited drinks and music to your heart’s desire within those two hours.
17. Service of Light at Llandaff Cathedral
On the 17th of December, Llandaff Cathedral are holding an interactive Service of Light. The event starts at 5:30pm and it is full of carols and reading. If you are into the traditional ways of celebrating Christmas, I would pay this one a visit. It will definitely be a beautiful service and it is free to attend.
18. Drinks at the Festive Quarter Cabins
Back to the topic of drinking, all throughout the festive period you and your loved ones can grab drinks (and food if you feel like it) in Cardiff’s Festive Quarter Cabins. These can be found on Working Street and are set to be a really popular attraction this year. If you need a moment of festive cosiness and time to recharge after your Christmas shopping, this is the place for you!
19. Christmas Projection Show
From the 29th of November up until the 5th of January, there are projection light shows every single day, with a different one each hour from 4 to 9pm. They show family-themed Christmas stories and building designs, a beautiful experience for all different ages. These shows can be found in the old library, it is completely free to visit, and it is stunning! As well as the projection shows, there is also a light maze next to the Christmas food market. This is definitely one to check out and would make some amazing Instagram content.
20. Christmas Panto
If you love a good Panto in the Festive season, this year at the New Theatre, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be brought alive for this year’s Christmas Pantomime! The panto will be running from the 10th of December all the way up until the 8th of January. Tickets range from £21.50-£42 per person, with generous discounts available for groups. Ian H Watkins from international pop group Steps will be leading the cast this year so that is something you really wouldn’t want to miss out on.
21. The Nutcracker
Sticking alongside the theme of theatre, the most famous of the Christmas ballet The Nutcracker is on this year from the 19th of December up until the 24th of December in St David’s Hall. There are two showings each day the performance is on, one at 2pm and the other at 7pm. Tickets range from £10.25 up to £53 with Family tickets ranging from £55.10-£124.50. It is a beautiful performance and one we would recommend seeing to get you in the Christmas spirit.
22. Abba Christmas Party
Steinbeck & Shaw are hosting an Abba Christmas Party, with four hours of Abba hits and live performances of classic songs. The event is set to be held on December 10 between 2pm and 6pm. Tickets are £20 each, and a group booking is £80, where you get four tickets for the price of five.
23. Christmas Lights in the arcades
Known as the City of Arcades, Cardiff is home to several Victorian and Edwardian arcades that are adorned in festive lights in the run-up to Christmas. For some Insta-worthy pics or just general Christmas vibes we would really recommend checking them out. There are plenty of cafes to explore, and a fantastic sandwich bar which was has been named among the top places to eat in the world.
24. Christmas Cocktails
If cocktails are your thing then why not combine them with a festive theme? O’Neill’s has released their festive cocktails and they sound divine with a Salted Caramel Espresso Martini, Strawberry Pornstar Martini and a Gin Berry Spritz. If cocktails aren’t your thing, you could always get a Jammy Santa Shot or an Apple Pie bomb, we’re sure you’ll find something.