Giant Earth installation Gaia, free family arts and crafts, and Virtual Reality experiences at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, this summer


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Wales Millennium Centre did not know I would be writing this article, but I am regularly invited to review theatre shows with them, so by law I need to disclose that relationship here.

In the never-ending hunt for things to do during the school summer holidays that don’t cost a fortune, Wales Millennium Centre is a great place to visit with plenty going on for families – and lots of it is free.

First up is Gaia. You can hardly miss the giant installation of planet Earth hanging in the Glanfa Foyer gallery. It’s in Cardiff for the six week summer holiday and shows what Earth looks like from space. Created by British installation artist Luke Jerram, Gaia is seven metres (23 feet) in diameter and features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface.

It’s incredibly impressive and my children loved it when we visited earlier this week.



Gaia Wales Millennium Centre

It fits in perfectly with the save our Earth-themed craft activities taking place beneath it in the Glanfa foyer all this summer.

The holiday craft projects at Wales Millennium Centre are always a great free option for families. During the school holidays, the Glanfa foyer becomes a giant canvas as members of the public are invited to contribute to a collaborative work of art. (During term time, they have similar free family craft activities on Saturdays.)

Free crafts at Wales Millennium Centre

It’s a perfect wet weather activity but also great if you want to cool down from this mini heatwave. You can combine with a visit to Cardiff Bay Beach, which is located outside Wales Millennium Centre in the Roald Dahl Plass, or perhaps en route to Cardiff Bay Barrage (see here for our favourite things to do on the Barrage), or it’s a great extra activity if you’ve been to The Red Dragon Centre to see a film or go bowling.

The theme this week is The Big Blue Sea where children can make their own sea creature – real or imaginary – out of plastic and other materials, either to display at the Centre or to take home with them. We visited on Tuesday and my children loved viewing the creatures that had already been created as well as making their own. My nine-year-old daughter made a whale, complete with plastic in its belly, my seven-year-old son made an ‘alien jellyfish’, while his five-year-old brother made a crocodile.

Free crafts at Wales Millennium Centre

Free crafts at Wales Millennium Centre

Free crafts at Wales Millennium Centre

Free crafts at Wales Millennium Centre

With all the staff supervising the activity bilingual in English and Welsh, it was also a great opportunity for them to ‘siarad Cymraeg’ during the school holidays.

The VR experience wasn’t quite available when we visited but visitors can walk with dinosaurs or travel deep beneath the sea in the fully-immersive experience. The age guidance is 12+.

Free events for families this summer include the following. More details are on the Wales Millennium Centre website.


Gaia Wales Millennium Centre

VR experience

Monday 22 July-Sunday 1 September, 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm

Age guidance: 12+

Jaw-dropping and immersive experiences with Pico G2 VR headsets, from dodging dinosaurs to deep sea adventures, planet hopping on board a spaceship, travelling to amazing cities or getting front row seats at some incredible Welsh music gigs.



Saturday 20 July-Sunday 1 September

A seven-metre (23 feet) installation showing what Earth looks like from space. British installation artist, Luke Jerram brings his incredible touring artwork, Gaia, to Cardiff for the summer, featuring 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface.


The Big Blue Sea

Monday 22-Saturday 26 July, 11am-4pm

Create magical and mysterious creatures of the sea out of unrecyclable plastics.

Save The Mermaids – Saturday 27 July, 11am-4pm

Join Green Squirrel for a mermaid makeover, play some games and find out how you can help prevent plastic waste from reaching the sea. Green Squirrel aim to make Cardiff a greener place and green living achievable and enjoyable through their programme of affordable, friendly and informal workshops and events.


Upcycling with Mari Elin Jones

Monday 29 July, 11am-4pm

Artist and author of Welsh language sustainable living blog Gwyrddach (Greener) and a forthcoming book, Mari Elin will share her upcycling tips and tricks and help you transform your old garments into new creations!


Upcycling Week

Tuesday 30 July-Saturday 3 August, 11am-4pm

Bring along an old holey sock or a stained t-shirt and give them a new lease of life by transforming them into a magical sea creature.


Further details to be announced.


Family friendly theatre shows at Wales Millennium Centre this summer include the following.
See my full summer theatre round-up here.



Madagascar The Musical

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Age guidance 3+; no admittance to under 2s

Tuesday 6-Saturday 11 August

Based on the smash-hit DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar The Musical follows a group of animals as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo, and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar. Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto the stage in this musical adventure.

The 2pm matinee performance on Thursday 8 August is a relaxed performance, specially designed for people who may find going to the theatre challenging, including those with an autistic spectrum condition, learning disability or sensory and communication disorder.


Club Tropicana

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Tuesday 13-Saturday 17 July, £16.50-£45.50

Age guidance 8+ (no under 2s)

Take a trip back to the electric 80s and embark on a summer of love and smash-hit classics. At Club Tropicana Hotel the drinks are free and the whole family is invited to join the ultimate holiday musical, celebrating all that we love about the 80s. The show is set a soundtrack of live performances of iconic pop anthems of the era including Just Can’t Get Enough, Take On Me, The Look of Love, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Relax and many more! The new musical stars Joe McElderry (X Factor winner and star of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Neil McDermott (EastEnders, The Sound of Music), Kate Robbins (Spitting Image, Dinnerladies), Emily Tierney (Wicked, The Wizard of Oz); and former Sugababe star Amelle Berrabah, making her musical theatre debut.




Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Monday 19-Saturday 31 August

Age guidance 5+; no under 2s

Direct from the West End, Annie returns to Cardiff with its Tony® award-winning book and score, including the unforgettable songs It’s The Hard-Knock Life, Easy Street, I Don’t Need Anything But You and Tomorrow. Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Her luck soon changes when she’s chosen to spend a fairytale Christmas with famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Meanwhile, spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search for her true family.

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