20 family-friendly activities in and around Cardiff for the first week of January 2023 school holidays


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With most schools in Cardiff off for the first week of January, and much of the Christmas excitement gone, I know a lot of parents are wondering how on earth to entertain their children over the next few days. I’ve rounded up all the events I can find in and around Cardiff – several pantos are still taking place, there are some fabulous free outdoor trails, farm park events, plus you can catch the free exhibition celebrating 100 years of the BBC in Wales at National Museum Cardiff.

All events are subject to change and cancellation so please check ahead with organisers to avoid disappointment.

Let me know anything I’ve missed in the comments below and do please give my social media posts a like, share and comment – it helps ensure Cardiff Mummy Says keeps on showing up in people’s timelines.

Happy new year to you all.

Festive events and outdoor trails

FREE The Cardiff Bay Gingerbread Trail

Across Cardiff Bay

Thursday 1 December-Sunday 8 January

Look out for the nine gingerbread character statues around Cardiff Bay, plus a gingerbread sleigh in Roald Dahl Plass, with a free, family-friendly sculpture hunt this festive season.  

Saturday 3 December also sees Gingerbread Day In The Bay, with free gingerbread decorating from 12pm-4pm at The Red Dragon Centre, and free crafts and family fun at the Senedd, Norwegian Church, Mermaid Quay and Craft in the Bay.

Plus spot the letters on each of the statues and you could be in with a chance of winning prizes including an overnight stay with breakfast at Future Inns, Everyman cinema tickets, family bowling at Hollywood Bowl, and a meal at Hub Box. Upload photos to social media and you could find yourself winning prize including Odeon cinema tickets, a boat tour with Princess Katharine, a meal at Volcano in the Red Dragon Centre and more.

The Gingerbread Trail is supported by The Red Dragon Centre, Cardiff Harbour Authority, Craft in the Bay, The Senedd, Mermaid Quay, Giovanni’s in the Bay, Voco St David’s Hotel and the Coal Exchange Hotel Cardiff.

Read our full review of the event here. (Ad post)

Christmas at Bute Park

Bute Park, Cardiff

Sunday 1, Monday 2, Wednesday 5-Saturday 8 January

From £19.50 for adults, £13.95 for children, family £59.50

After last year’s sell-out success, the award-winning light trail is back with a host of dazzling new installations. Plus due to popular demand, extra dates have been added for the first week of January. As darkness descends, Christmas at Bute Park will illuminate and transform the grounds into a magical winter wonderland. Journey through a spectrum of illuminations, sculptures and special effects, including a ‘hypnotic laser section’ and an ‘epic orb of iridescent colour’, which are some of the new sights for this year. The trail is a 1.4Km route with refreshments available from local street food vendors.

Read our full review of the event here. (Ad/review post)

FREE Light of Winter

St John’s Garden, off the Hayes, Cardiff city centre

Until 11 February 2023, 8am-9pm

The Light of Winter FOR Cardiff

A moment of peace away from the busyness of the city centre. This free light installation hopes to shine a light on the importance of togetherness and community spirit synonymous with the season. It was inspired by the ancient Welsh Midwinter celebration, Goleuni’r Gaeaf (The Light of Winter), the traditional feast, held on the shortest day of the year, and a time to celebrate community and welcome longer, brighter days. As the lights twinkle, you’ll also hear a unique version of the Welsh folksong Ar Lan y Mor, recorded by St John’s Choir playing around the gardens.

Read our full review here (Advertorial post)

Light of Winter Crafts Workshops

Cardiff Story Museum

Thursday 5, Friday 6, Saturday 7, Saturday 14 January, 11am-12pm, free but must be pre-booked

(SOLD OUT but look out on social media for details of tickets being returned and last minute availability)

A series of free children’s winter crafts workshops with local artist and author Jack Skivens. Inspired by Goleuni’r Gaeaf, Jack has designed a set of characters – a wren, robin, and starling – which will help tell the story of midwinter and guide people to the installation, which is also inspired by a murmuration of birds. Children taking part in the workshops will have the chance to create and paint their own birds to take home. The session will include a poetry reading of Jack’s Light of Winter poem, before families are invited to then visit the installation.

Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland

Funfair, Sur La Piste and Ice Bar, City Hall Lawns, Cardiff

Ice Rink and Ice Walk, Cardiff Castle Grounds, Cardiff

Tuesday 15 November-Sunday 8 January

Entry is free but costs apply to attractions

Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland is open for the first week of January, with festive favourites including the ice rink, funfair attractions, ice bar, food and drink and more.


Robin Robin Adventure Trail

RSPB Newport Wetlands

Saturday 26 November-Friday 6 January (closed 24 and 25 December)

£3 per activity pack

A celebration of Aardman’s festival musical tale about a young robin trying to fit in. Every year Robin joins her family on a big sneak to find food to survive the winter. Complete the trail and you will learn to sing like a robin, find your own superpower and use all your senses to connect with the robin within. The exclusive activity packs will help you complete all the fun challenges along the trail as well as give robin-related activities to do at home, a certificate (for when you become a brilliant robin) and much more.

Frozen Theme Days

The Meadows Farm Village, Gypsy Lane, Groeswen, Cardiff, CF15 7UN

Monday 2-Sunday 8 January

£7.50 per person age 3+; under 3s free

Entry from 11am

Meet the Frozen characters, Frozen movie streaming, meet the reindeer and goats, petting with the guinea pigs and rabbits. Ice gift and sweet shop on site Optional extras at an additional cost: synthetic ice skating £4.50, face painting price TBC.

Family Adventure Trail

Mountain View Ranch, Heol Penbryn, Cardiff

Monday 2-Sunday 8 January

Adults and children 2-16 £8, under 2s free

Free range adventure as you use your map to navigate around the Ranch, completing activities and collecting stamps as you go. Explore and discover two jumping pillows, guinea pigs, pygmy goats, ponies, straw bale obstacle course, soft archery, double zip wire, Fairy Forest, Roly Poly Hill, Tree Houses, The Vomit Comet, The Big Big Swing, Hobbit Hill, and the famous Gruffalo trail.

Museums, castles and cultural

Reindeer Poo Trail

Caerphilly Castle

Tuesday 27 December-Sunday 8 January, 10am-3pm

Activity included as part of usual entry fee

After another busy Christmas, Santa’s reindeers have been grazing and pooing in Chepstow Castle. Find the poos and discover what each reindeer ate for Christmas, in this fun family trail.

The Big Museum Winter Trail

St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff

National Museum Cardiff Closed on Mondays, plus 1 and 2 January

National Waterfront Museum, Swansea

Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon

National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon

Saturday 3 December-Sunday 8 January, 10am-3pm

£1.50 per trail.

Visit any of the national museums of Wales this December for a festive, feel-good family trail. Find the Museum Elves to help complete the snow friend, then take it home to transform into a decoration to top your tree. The trail is available at all Amgueddfa Cymru sites and is the same at each site. Trails are bilingual.

Christmas Activities

Dyffryn Gardens, St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan

Until Thursday 6 January, 10am-4pm

Included in usual admission prices adult £12.10, children £6.10, family £30.30, one adult family £18.20 or free to National Trust members

The festivities continue at Dyffryn Gardens, encompassing the outdoors, nature and history. You can – literally – step into Christmas with festive pop-up scenes inspired by traditional Edwardian Christmas cards. Plus try your hand at festive games and explore floral garden-inspired festive decorations

FREE BBC 100 in Wales

National Museum Cardiff

Until Sunday 16 April 2023

Explore 100 years of the history of the BBC in Wales at the Nationa Museum Cardiff. From its birth in the 1920s into a new digital age, discover how Wales has, and will continue, to contribute to the making of the BBC.

Experience a walk through time to discover more about the history of the BBC in Wales and how 100 years of broadcasting has evolved, as well as an opportunity to see the technology, programmes and costumes of the past through objects and archive footage.

Tickets are free. Advance booking is recommended although there will be some on-the-day availability for those who arrive at the Museum without advance bookings.

FREE Voices of The Red Wall

St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff

Until 17 April 2023

Supporters of Wales’ national football teams are called The Red Wall. Dressed in their bucket hats and replica shirts, belting out chants from the stands, they’re often described as the 12th player on the pitch. 

To celebrate Cymru qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, this exhibition shines a spotlight on some of the people and communities of The Red Wall. Fashion, music, identities and politics are all here, cemented together by a sense of belonging. 

This is their story – your story – the bricks of The Red Wall. It’s a fan-led experience like no other.

Energy Unleashed live science show

Techniquest, Cardiff Bay

Sunday 2-Sunday 8 January

Age guidance 5+

£2 per person in addition to usual entrance fees (adults £10.90, children £9.05, family £38.18, under 3s free)

The live science show for the first week of January explores energy – the energy in our foods, in the gases around us, in the elements that make up the world and more. Through live experiments, you’ll experience how the energy behaves, how we use energy in our bodies, how energy is used in the modern world… and see what happens when we unleash that energy ourselves.


Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Until mid January

Artist Naz Syed of Ziba Creative presents an exhibition celebrating community and Persian culture and heritage through beautiful pom-poms of unity, gratitude and hope from across the globe.

Naz is a proud Welsh, Iranian, socially engaged visual artist. She is passionate about craftivism, community and spreading kindness through creativity.

Explore a pom-pom fruit platter where you can celebrate a life full of colour and joy as part of the Persian festival Shab-e Yalda. ‘Yalda Night’ is the longest and darkest night (Yaldā means rebirth of the sun) and is a celebration of the victory of light over darkness.

Explore the trail where you can experience all kinds of craftivism and creativity including protest pom-poms, a giant community pom-pom, a wall of unity and even wear a pom-pom magic carpet cape.

Plus add your own pom-pom along with messages of hope, unity and solidarity with the people in Iran who are suffering injustice and fighting for their freedom and the women who are protesting for basic human rights and in doing so putting their lives at risk.

Workshops in conjunction with Art Clwb will take place on 4, 7 and 14 January, 11am-3pm. These are creative sessions where participants can make their own pom pom to add to the wall of unity, as well as banners to support the protests happening in Cardiff for Iran. Suitable for ages 7+.

Energy Unleashed

Techniquest, Cardiff

£2 per person in addition to usual entry (adults £12, children 3-15 £10, under 3s free, family £22)

Techniquest’s science theatre this week hosts Energy Unleashed, a live science show featuring experiments which explore the energy in our foods, in the gases around us, in the elements that make up the world and more. Audiences will experience how the energy behaves, how we use energy in our bodies, how energy is used in the modern world… and see what happens when we unleash that energy ourselves.

Plus explore more than 100 hands-on exhibitions and activities which make science accessible to all.

Pantomime and theatre

Robin Hood

The Riverfront, Newport

Tuesday 29 November-Saturday 7 January

Adults £25, concessions £23, group of four £85

Join the most heroic outlaw of them all, Robin Hood, as he strives to win the hand of the beautiful Maid Marion while he and his trusty band of followers outwit the evil Sheriff of Newport. This will be a show packed full of comedy, slapstick, action, adventure, and of course plenty of pantomime magic. ‘Newport’s favourite’ Richard Elis is back as Much the Millar’s son, who is desperate to be one of the Merry Men, and Geraint Rhys Edwards returns as Robin Hood.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

New Theatre, Cardiff

Sat 10 December 2022 – Sun 8 January 2023


Snow White New Theatre review

Steps’s Ian ‘H’ Watkins, rugby legend Gareth Thomas and panto dame extraordinaire Mike Doyle star in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs following a triumphant season at the New Theatre last Christmas appearing in Aladdin. The line-up also includes Coronation Street and Emmerdale star Siân Reeves, and comedy ventriloquist, BGT finalist Steve Hewlett. 

Expect comedy, sensational song and dance numbers, fabulous costumes and stunning scenery. Throw in a magical mirror, seven friendly dwarfs, a beautiful princess, a handsome prince and plenty of audience participation and you have the perfect recipe to outwit the Wicked Queen and let love prevail in this glittering festive treat for all ages.

Read our full review here (AD/review)

Jack and the Beanstalk

The Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl

Saturday 17 December-Sunday 8 January

Grand Pavilon Porthcawl Jack and the Beanstalk

The Grand Pavilion presents its panto adventure, Jack and the Beanstalk. The Trotts are so poor they don’t have a bean to their name and what’s more, there’s an evil and greedy giant terrifying the village. Will they really have to sell Daisy, the family cow just to survive? Can Jack defeat the giant, win the heart of the girl he loves and turn the Trotts’ fortunes around? A family panto with a dastardly villain, a hapless comic and a hilarious panto dame, as well as fabulous musical numbers and bags of slapstick fun.

Read our full review here (AD/Review)

Les Misérables

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

13 December-14 January

From £22.50

Age guidance: 8+, no under 2s

Back by popular demand following a sell-out run, Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Boublil and Schönberg’s musical Les Misérables returns to Cardiff.

This brilliant new staging has taken the world by storm and has been hailed “Les Mis for the 21st Century”. With scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, the magnificent score of Les Misérables includes the songs I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Bring Him Home, One Day More, Master Of The House and many more.

Seen by over 120 million people worldwide in 52 countries and in 22 languages, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals.

Jack and the Beanstalk

St Peter’s Hall, Roath, Cardiff

Thursday 12-Saturday 14 January, 7pm

Adults £9, children £7

Box office text 07779088623 or email info@tbetc.com

The annual panto from local amateur dramatics group St Peter’s Players will see proceeds go to child bereavement charity 2Wish.

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