For queer-positive books and zines, head to Cardiff’s Shelflife Bookshop. Full of rare DIY-zines from independent creators and books raising the voices of the underrepresented, this is a thought-provoking shop full of undiscovered gems.
Fancy some serene scenes? Take a relaxing trip to Cardiff Bay, home to the tranquil Penarth Marina and waterside dining spot, Mermaid Quay. If you’re longing for a day of retail therapy, you might prefer to explore the Victorian and Edwardian arcades and the vast St David’s shopping centre.
Like the city itself, Cardiff’s gay scene is small and compact – but with something for everyone. The main venues are focused around Charles Street and Churchill Way in the city centre, all within walking distance of each other.
A historic pub with a traditional glazed tile exterior, The Golden Cross is popular with a predominantly male, 30s crowd that likes to kick back with karaoke and cabaret. Lab 22 is a stylish little place for post-work or pre-club cocktails, The Main Stage Cabaret Bar brings live music, cabaret and drag acts to the scene. Spread across two floors and a roof terrace, The Kings is a large, modern bar attracting a young gay/lesbian/mixed crowd – it’s the official pre-bar to gay dance club Pulse, which attracts a similar young, mixed crowd of party people and university students. Drag aficionados need look no further than Mary’s, a favourite for karaoke and killer performances.
Voco St David’s luxurious interiors and spectacular setting on Cardiff Bay has seen it voted one of the top UK’s top 10 hotels by Conde Nast Traveller. Its renowned Marine Spa is great for celeb spotting, while its central location is in easy walking distance of the heart of the gay scene.
Located a fifteen-minute walk west of Cardiff city centre, Maison Galles is a self-catering townhouse with stylish Welsh-French fusion décor. Close to the green spaces of Llandaff Fields and Bute Park, it houses up to eight guests and boasts quirky details like bespoke wall coverings, king-size French beds and a mix of antique and contemporary furniture.
Welsh for “pink house”, Ty Rosa has earned accolades from TripAdvisor and Britain’s The Times newspaper for its friendly, openly-gay attitude. There are five homely guestrooms in the main house, all stylishly decorated. It’s located a fifteen-minute walk south of Cardiff city centre – but hosts Paul and Stuart will point you in the right direction.
Showing its pride for all things LGBTQI+, in addition to all things Welsh, Pride Cymru (the Welsh language word for Wales) is usually a massive three-day event, where over 50,000 people come together to celebrate in the capital. Each year sees big-name Welsh and international pop acts performing live on the main stage, along with a cabaret garden, funfair rides, a cultural market with arts and crafts, and a family zone. There’s also a colourful parade through Cardiff city centre.
Held every October, the annual Iris Prize Festival is Cardiff’s LGBTQI+ alternative to Cannes. During four days of international film screenings, panel sessions and parties, thirty short films by or about the LGBTQI+ community compete to win the top accolade, valued at £30,000.
Cardiff is situated on the south coast of Wales, 132 miles west of London. Regular trains connect Cardiff to London in just over two hours, while Cardiff Airport is served by numerous international airlines.