The Cardiff Bay Gingerbread Trail – a fun, free and family-friendly activity this Christmas
Paid collaboration with The Red Dragon Centre
The Cardiff Bay Gingerbread Trail is a wonderfully fun – and free – family-friendly activity taking place over the festive season, with nine gingerbread figures plus a sleigh to spot, and the chance to win some amazing prizes.
My two sons and I headed to the Bay on Saturday afternoon to see the sculptures for ourselves and to explore some of the Cardiff Bay attractions taking part in the trail.
Read on to see how we got on, plus check out my Reel on the Cardiff Mummy Says Instagram channel for a video snapshot of our day.
The Cardiff Bay Gingerbread Trail
If you’re heading to Cardiff Bay over the festive season then chances are you’ll come face to face with one of the gingerbread characters who have currently made the Bay their home. There are nine festive gingerbread characters to spot, as well as a sleigh you can actually sit in, as part of The Cardiff Bay Gingerbread Trail. The free sculpture trail opened at the end of last week and runs until Sunday 8 January.
We began our gingerbread hunt at The Red Dragon Centre as part of our role as blogger ambassadors for the Cardiff Bay entertainment complex.
It didn’t take us long to find the two sculptures here and we were also able to pick up the free trail map showing us where the sculptures were the rest were located and which also has details of a special prize giveaway running as part of the trail. Each of the sculptures two letters on it – the green ones spell out a festive Welsh word and the red ones an English one. Collect the 10 letters, unscramble them and enter either via one of the special post boxes, detailed in the trail guide, or online here.
The prize is amazing. Drawn at random from all correct entries submitted by Sunday 8 January, one lucky winner will be treated to: a day of leisure and dining activities and an overnight stay for a family of four (two adults and two children or one adult and three children). The prize includes an overnight stay and breakfast at Future Inns Hotel, Cardiff Bay; a meal at The Hub Box in Mermaid Quay; a boat tour with Princess Katharine; tickets for Everyman Cinema; and two games of bowling at Hollywood Bowl in The Red Dragon Centre.
Plus there are lots of spot prizes to be one from attractions across the Bay. For a chance to win, post your photos on social media and tag #BayGingerbreadTrail
The Red Dragon Centre also has a couple of bonus gingerbread-themed things to find, including two gingerbread people with faces cut out so you can pop your own heads in to take a festive selfie, and the amazing gingerbread house, which is back in Cadwaladers once again for the festive season.
As we were visiting on the opening weekend, we had the bonus of taking part in some free, and very tasty, gingerbread decorating in the main foyer area
After devouring the sweet treats, we headed to the Bay to find the other sculptures. My boys loved sitting in the sleigh on Roald Dah Plass, just outside Wales Millennium Centre.
It was then on to the Senedd Cymru building, the Welsh Parliament, where we found our next gingerbread character next to a large Christmas tree, and had the chance to make a gingerbread tree decorations, again as part of the launch weekend celebrations.
The café area upstairs in the Senedd is well worth a visit – lovely and spacious and with a great play area too. You might think at eight and 11 my boys had left the days of Dulpo behind, but they had great fun making various creations on this map of Wales and we ended up chilling out here for a good 45 minutes. (Don’t forget if you’re visiting the Senedd to allow time to go through the airport-style security at the entrance.)
Next up, was Mermaid Quay. It was starting to get dark at this point, and the giant light-up star in Tacoma Square looked so beautiful and festive. We soon found the two gingerbread figures in the window of one of the units among all the shops, before we continued our walk around Mermaid Quay and on to Voco St David’s Cardiff hotel.
Heading through the revolving doors into the entrance foyer of the hotel, you’ll find two more figures to spot, as well as a whole miniature winter wonderland. The Coal Exchange was next on our list with a figure to spot in the beautifully decorated foyer, and then our final stop of our hunt was at Giovanni’s in the Bay, opposite Wales Millennium Centre.
Amazingly, the trail saw us walking four miles – a distance which surprised us all, because it certainly didn’t feel that far and because stopping off at different points along the way also meant we weren’t walking constantly.
You could easily combine the Gingerbread Trail with other activities in the Bay – a walk along the Barrage, a visit to Techniquest, a boat trip around the Bay, food or drinks at one of the many restaurants and cafes, a game at Hollywood Bowl or, as in our case, a trip to the cinema at the Odeon where we were joined by the remaining two members of our family to watch Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical at Odeon Cardiff Bay
Being big fans of the stage show, and of course the classic children’s book, we had been so looking forward to the musical film version of Matilda and can confirm it was every bit as good as we’d hoped it would be. t’s fairly faithful to the stage version, with the addition of a couple of new musical numbers, although we were sad that a couple didn’t make the big screen cut. That said, if you’ve not seen the musical or read the book, it doesn’t matter at all; this is a story for all ages filled with strong performances and some great musical numbers.
Thirteen year old Aleisha Weir is wonderfully cast as Matilda: bookish, child genius, unassuming rather than pretentious, but with a mischievous streak that really comes into its own when she discovers her powers of telekinesis. Bullied and belittled at home by her parents (Andrea Riseborough and Stephen Graham), she seeks solace telling stories to the local librarian and devouring books way beyond her years, until the authorities realise she’s not actually being homeschooled as her parents claim and she is sent to the eery Crunchem Hall. Emma Thompson, barely recognisable, is the infamous headmistress, the tyrannical Miss Trunchbull who terrorises her young pupils in such ways as spinning them around by their pigtails, forcing them around a muddy assault course, and sending them off to the tortuous prison of the Chokey. Meanwhile Lashana Lynch is the caring Miss Honey, who it soon transpires has a deep past of her own which explains how she is equally terrorised by Miss Trunchbull. Matilda ends up saving Miss Honey as much as Miss Honey ends up saving Matilda.
The music, choreography, scenes of childhood revenge and rebellion are all so well executed and the child performers are all incredible throughout. The best children’s stories are always the ones in which there’s a bit of danger and in which the children are ultimately triumpahant over the evil grown-ups and Matilda has this in bucket-loads. We all absolutely loved and it’s certainly deserves to be cinematic hit this Christmas.
The Cardiff Bay Gingerbread Trail runs until Sunday 8 January. All the sculptures are free to view, and the trail map is also free. Visit the website for more information.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical is currently showing at Odeon Cardiff Bay. See the Odeon Cardiff website for film times.
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