Few cities in the UK have undergone such a dramatic transformation as the Welsh capital in recent years. Its historical mediaeval keep overlooks the thriving city centre providing an arresting collision of old and new.
The jewel in the city’s crown is the stunning Cardiff Bay. Trendy bars and restaurants line the waterfront, where visitors flock in great numbers to soak in the vibrant, fast-paced, exuberant atmosphere.
The city is the eighth highest qualified in the UK according to data published by the ‘centreforcities’ which contribute to making it one of the UK’s fastest growing economies. With three Universities’, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales, in the city, there is a wealth of young, creative talent.
What to do
Rugby fans will find themselves among friends here. The gentle hum of ‘Bread of Heaven’ sung by a 75,000-strong army of daffodil wielding, Welsh Dragon-clad rugby fans make matchday at the iconic Principality Stadium (formerly Millennium Stadium), undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions on the world’s sporting calendar. Cardiff comes to a standstill when rugby comes to town creating a carnival style atmosphere that’s not to be missed – particularly if they beat the English!
If crowds aren’t your thing, the city is surrounded by stunning countryside to escape into. The Brecon Beacons national park - with its rolling mountains and deep valleys - is a sight to behold and welcome respite for anyone who prefers peace and the rugged outdoors to Cardiff’s busy shopping streets.
Cardiff Castle is one of Wales’ leading heritage ttractions, and a site of international significance with its imposing walls and fairytale towers housing 2,000 years of history. Set within beautiful parklands in the centre of the city it is perfect for days out, events and a spot of cultural indulgence. It hosts gigs cinema screenings and provides a home for artists in residence.
A short train ride from Cardiff Central station is Penarth Pier – a fully restored Art Deco Pavilion housing a gallery, cinema, restaurant and café. A self-stated ‘perfect community meeting place for all’ offering an exciting, broad range of events including live music and locally sourced food and drink. All that against the backdrop of the River Severn Estuary.
Where to stay
Accommodation in Cardiff comes at a much more reasonable price than in other Capitals like London or Edinburgh.
Sleeperz, a stylish, business-friendly hotel located just a minute’s walk from Cardiff Central railway station, offers a double room with breakfast from a very agreeable £49 per night.
Creative freelancers will find over 2,700 Cardiff companies working in their space
If you’re looking for luxury, then the waterside five-star St David’s Hotel & Spa won’t disappoint. Guests can enjoy views right across Cardiff Bay from the award-winning Tempus at Tides Bar and Restaurant.
Those looking to set up shop more permanently should be pleased to find that average property prices are fairly affordable. According to property site Right move, semidetached property in the country of Cardiff comes in at around £233,000 while a flat will set you back £146,000 on average. Research has shown that freelancers in creative industries are flocking to the wards of Cathays and Butetown, which include the city centre and the waterfront.
There are strong rail links to Bristol, London, Birmingham, Manchester and elsewhere in Wales from Cardiff Central station, while a regular service also connects Cardiff with Fishguard Harbour and ferries to Ireland. Budget regional airline Flybe operates domestic routes throughout the UK from Cardiff Airport, while a range of other low-cost carriers serves destinations across Europe. Bristol Airport, with connections to the US and Canada, is 47 miles away from Cardiff.
Lisa Matthews, acting Director of Creative Economy at Cardiff University, says Cardiff is a relatively small capital but has all assets of a much larger city: “From national theatre and opera companies, museums to large corporate headquarters – all of whom want to work with freelancers. It’s easy to network and get noticed. We’re the youngest capital in Europe and with three large universities based here, we have a wealth of emerging talent.
A number of big players in the worlds of finance, media and communications have a base in Cardiff, many of which enlist the services of the city’s contracting community. They include British Gas, BT, HBOS, Admiral Insurance and the BBC.
Creative freelancers will find over 2,700 Cardiff companies working in their space, ranging from major employers such as the BBC to tiny digital start-ups just breaking into the industry.
Creative Cardiff is a new network which connects people in any creative organisation, business or job in the Cardiff region. They aim to encourage collaboration to make Cardiff the most creative place it can be and is supported by Cardiff University’s Creative Economy team.
Its network aims to bring together people from across the entire breadth of the city’s creative economy – from dancers to marketing professionals, architects to app developers – to maximise innovation and creativity.
“Cardiff has the cultural assets of a capital city, a growing population and a growing reputation. Working together we can raise the city’s ambition and profile to make it a capital of creativity,” reads its website.