Cardiff Series: City of Arcades Day

Did you know that Cardiff is the City of Arcades? A little-known fact about Cardiff is that it has the biggest concentration of Victorian, Edwardian, and modern-day indoor shopping arcades in Britain. These corridors wind through the centre of the Welsh capital, crammed with boutique shops, family-run cafes, independent bookstores, gelato bars, and hidden tea houses.

The Castle Arcade runs opposite Cardiff Castle and features a beautiful gallery with a wooden second-floor balcony and footbridges. One of the longer of Cardiff’s famous Victorian arcades, it is also one of the city’s only two-level shopping arcades other than Cardiff Central Market.

There are 7 unique Victorian and Edwardian arcades sitting alongside some of the biggest names of the high street. They are called; Royal Arcade, Morgan Arcade, Castle Arcade, High Street Arcade, Duke Street Arcade, Castle Quarter, Dominions Arcade and Wyndham Arcade.

With over 100 independent cafes, bars and shops right in the heart of the city centre, the arcades offer a truly unique shopping experience. Alongside the arcades, there are streets packed with high street favourites including John Lewis, Debenhams, New Look, Topshop, Hamley’s and The Disney Store. 

The arcades are the best-kept secret in Cardiff. This is where you tend to find Cardiffians supporting local and independents, and where you are bound to find an interesting purchase or an exciting menu. All while surrounded by beautiful architecture. Let’s be fair, the modern buildings do not compare. I can’t help but think, did our ancestors walk these corridors and what famous faces have passed through?

What is City of Arcades Day?

On Saturday 16th November 2019, it will be the first City of Arcades Day. It is a fantastic excuse to start your Christmas shopping or experience parts of the city you do not usually venture too. Across all seven of the historic arcades, you can find special offers, live music and events in the eateries, shops and independent stores.

It is incredible to see that all seven of the arcades, as well as some of the city’s other independents, have all banded together for this campaign. Hopefully, it will increase the awareness of the individual businesses, especially on the lead up to Christmas. 

Morgan Arcade
The Morgan Arcade has an abundance of stylish boutiques, beautiful collections of fine art and of course Spillers, the oldest record shop in the world.

Listen to live music

In the Wyndham Arcade, Morgan Arcade and Castle Arcade, there will be live music between 1pm-6pm. Between 5pm-11pm there will also be live entertainment in Polarity Coffee in Duke Street Arcade. Artists include Branwen, The Mermerings, MILK and Surreal Kinnock.

In the Dominions Arcade, there will be live music from Gary Nock who will be armed with his acoustic guitar between 12pm-2pm. In Spillers, the oldest record shop in the world, there will be live music and DJ sets from 5pm. Spillers can be found in Morgan Arcade.

Wyndham Tea

If the spoken word is more your thing, local poets will be reading in Waterloo Tea in Wyndham Arcade between 7pm-9pm. Artists include Mab Jones, Hanan Issa, Topher Mills, Joao Morais and Emily Cotterill.

Are there any other special event?

Not only can you see the arcades in all of their bustling glory, but you will be able to see the stores showcasing their best bits too. Laura May Bridal in the Morgan Arcade is hosting a bridal show between 12pm-3pm. Also, in the Morgan Arcade at the Camera Centre, there will be a free photography day, with free family or individual portraits by photographer Casey Gutteridge.

You can also tour the back of house area of the Morgan Quarter, led by Centre Manager Rory Fleming. The first tour will start at 10.30am and the second at 2.30pm meeting by The Hayes clock.

Arcade Vaults

If video games are your thing at The Arcade Vaults in the High Street Arcade, there will be a charity Mario Kart tournament between 5.30pm-9pm. They will also be hosting a Dungeons and Dragons tournament between 12pm-9pm.

What offers are on?

If you have started your Christmas shopping, love a bargain or just want to support local businesses, there are so many fantastic special offers available. There are far too many for me to list here, but here are some of my personal favourites;

  • 10% off selected rums at Havana House all day in Wyndham Arcade
  • Spin the wheel for a prize at Shop Rugby found opposite Duke Street
  • 50% off a blow dry at This Is What We Do in the High Street Arcade
  • Win two tickets to Wales V Barbarians at Jones the Barber in Castle Arcade
  • 20% off a massage at Face Clinic in the Castle Arcade
  • Complimentary Welsh cakes at Barker Tea Rooms in the High Street Arcade
  • 50% off vintage menswear at Hatts Emporium
  • 20% off hot drinks at Science Cream in Castle Arcade
  • 15% off food and beverages at Marco Pierre White in the Dominions Arcade
  • Free fragrance samples in Molton Brown in the Morgan Arcade

The Cardiff Arcades are top Instagrammable locations

Style Rarebit
The gorgeous Style Rarebit on the top floor balcony of the Castle Arcade

Let’s be fair, you can often spot a Cardiff Blogger or two with a camera and a tripod, snapping away photographs for their grid. If you are around on the City of Arcades Day or if you have to make plans for a future date, I urge you to explore the arcades and get a real picture of what Cardiff is all about.


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