Wales Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Wales
Wales has not escaped the infiltration of high street chains, but independent shops certainly hold their ground more here than in England. Local artists and craftsmen sell handmade gifts such as jewellery and pottery. The town centre of Chepstow has some lovely independent shops, including regular craft and food markets; while Monmouth, Cardigan and Abergavenny also have pleasant high streets.
Up in Snowdonia, the idyllic towns of here are a picture of rural charm. Betws-y-coed is home to the Trefriw Woollen Mills which produces the famous Welsh tapestry textiles. Buy waistcoasts, bedspreads and throws here, for distinctive souvenirs. In the larger town of Llandudno you’ll find cute boutiques selling handmade items – try the Craft Cymru shop which stocks authentic Welsh produce and crafts. Back towards the southwest, the lush beaches of the Gower peninsula may be a surfer’s paradise, but it’s the brownies from Gower Cottage (www.gowercottagebrownies.co.uk) that you won’t forget in a hurry. Book lovers should head to Hay on Wye near the Welsh border. Known as the home of the UK’s largest literary festival, it is home to around 40 second hand bookshops, earning it the nickname ‘town of books’.
Cardiff is the city with the biggest choice and the big names. If you like big-name brands or late night opening, then the city centre is the place to visit. Here you’ll find the majority of the shops highly concentrated within arcades rather than the high streets. Market lovers mustn’t miss the St Mary street market for its mixture of vintage clothing and antique furniture, whilst the recently created Cardiff Fashion Quarter, houses a treasure trove of independent stalls. For surprising shopping experiences, meander through the byways and highways of the Welsh hills and valleys and veer off the trodden path to explore small villages and craft centres.
Mon-Fri 1000-1700, Sat 1000-1700, Sun (some shops) 1100-1700. In cities some shops open later on Thursday nights, and are more likely to open on Sundays. In remote areas few shops open on Sundays.
Nightlife in Wales
Welsh culture is steeped in music, and the inhabitants famously know how to party. The major cities of Swansea and Cardiff are at the centre of Welsh nightlife, offering clubs and pubs for late nighters.
For something distinctive to this land, listen to a Welsh choir. These vary from small church choirs to massive male voice choirs on tour at the UK's biggest music venues. You might also find some ad hoc singing at one of Wales' legendary rugby matches.
For opera buffs, the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff is the place to go, but music isn't confined to the cities; the biggest music event of the year is the Eisteddfod, a celebration of Welsh music, which moves to a different destination every year. Folk music fans should head to the Green Man Festival in Hay-on-Wye, while the Brecon annual festival promotes jazz.
Rural nightlife traditionally focuses around the old-fashioned village pub, with local beer and good hearty food.