The halls are decked…

Take a leisurely holiday stroll down the Castle Quarter Arcades and the corridors, hallways and store windows are bound to leave you immersed in joy.

This season, the Castle Quarter Arcades has hand picked a cross section of local talent and expertise to help fulfil their Christmas wish of contributing to the home grown design industry.The decor in each of the hallways places emphasis on novelty, ingenuity and originality.

Glitzy and unique, the golden spheres which hang down from the Victorian ceilings were designed and lazer cut by Home by Kristy, Cardiff’s newest lighting, design and gift shop, based in the Cardiff Arcade.

These eye catching globes, which give the illusion of being suspended in mid air, had their sparkle added by Graham Sweet Studio, a company founded over forty years ago. They produce all their props, in house, right here in the UK.

The 15 foot Norweigan spruce tree which is placed atop the balcony of the Castle Street Arcade was supplied by the Ty Cerrig Christmas Tree Farm. While the seeds for this tree came from Germany, the tree was grown on the farm in Maerdy Newydd Bonvilston in the Vale of Glamorgan.

According to Ty Cerrig  the British public have been decorating Norway Spruce since 1841, when Queen Victoria was pictured with her husband Prince Albert and their children, standing beside one at Windsor Castle.

Ty Cerrig Norweigian Spruce

Ty Cerrig’s Norweigian Spruce

Still on the subject of trees, the festive bay trees with fluffy golden shimmer ties and fairy lights that adorn the court were brought to life by the Dutch Garden Centre.This nursery is South Wales’ largest stockist of trees, shrubs, conifers and hedging and bedding plants. It’s a specialist importer of Dutch flowering shrubs and bulbs and renowned for decorative summer and winter gardens.

Visible Art, a Cardiff based printing company worked on printing the tote bags, Forbesfield is credited with providing the Christmas wreaths in High Steet and Duke Street Arcades and Vinyl Life lent a hand to print the large stag head.

Both ‘Home by Kirsty’ and ‘Forbesfield’ were responsible for delivering the entire installation to beautify the arcades.

These are just some of the fine artisan and bespoke craft teams that are giving the corridors a magical vibe this December.

Annalisa Jones, who manages public relations and events for the Castle Quarter Arcades explains this year’s design concept further: “At Castle Quarter Arcades, we have recruited the talents of local suppliers to help us realise our vision this Christmas. With an emphasis on innovation and originality, we have created a magical space for Cardiff shoppers unlike any other in the city.”

Oh, and while you’re there, keep an eye out for that electrifying polar bear.

Castle Quarter Arcade

Polar bear surprises

Dear Santa, let me explain…

Yes the Cardiff arcades are quaint and charming. Yes they date back over a hundred years and each one of the courts is filled with their share of history.

But, that doesn’t mean they are traditional or boring. Au contraire, the arcades can also be a lot of fun!

Take for example the Morgan Quarter and the #MQNaughtyorNice promotion that’s currently buzzing in the arcade’s corridors.

Post a selfie on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MQNaughtyorNice while shopping or sipping coffee at either Morgan Arcade or Royal Arcade. A winner will be picked each day and announced on the Morgan Quarters social media channels. And the best part is, you can enter the promotion as many times as you like until 8 December!

Here’s a sneak peak at some of the fab gifts on offer:

christmasgifts

“We know Christmas shopping can get stressful, so this year we’ve launched the ‘naughty or nice’ list as a bit of light hearted, festive fun,” says Rory Fleming, the Centre Manager at Morgan Quarter.

“It’s a great opportunity for shoppers to win a treat for themselves, and our range of exclusive prizes show the variety of gifts available in the quarter,” Rory explains.

If you’ve only been good for a couple of months this year, that’s alright. Focus on that and mention that you have been nice. Either way, Santa’s pretty cool. He won’t mind.

 

 

Get your Christmas brew on

December weather. Also known as, the perfect time to curl up in a cozy cafe with a good book and your favourite mug of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or cocoa.

While Cardiff’s arcades look especially radiant, tis the vibe in its corridor’s quaint cafes that squeals Christmas.Red throws, clinking cups, happy chatter, marshmallow toppings, the smell of roasted Arabica beans and an occasional “laugh out loud” fill the Victorian courtyards with winter sweetness.

Some of the cafe’s are even offering seasonal brews to spice up the ambience.

At the Boardroom Coffee Shop in Duke Street Arcade, all hot Christmas drinks come laced with whipped cream, delicious toppings like toffee apple, mint, salted caramel and Irish cream as well as a dash of glitter! Don’t worry, although the gold dust sparkles, it is edible. Each festive drink will set you back £3 pounds.

If it’s tea you crave (maybe tea is more your cup of tea?), then the Waterloo Tea Room in Wyndham Arcade offers a pot of a light and flavorful Christmas blend for £3. London Fog, is another hot creation made with a combination of Earl Grey, dried lavender, vanilla syrup and milk, and again a cup is yours to enjoy for only £3 pounds.

As a surprise pressie, the barista and manager, Kasparas will also add a signature Christmas tree art on any latte of flat white ordered during the season.

Erica Henderson, a foodie and lifestyle blogger who has visited the tearoom this season says, “Waterloo tea rooms is a gorgeous, modern place to relax and enjoy a vast selection of fine teas. The interior exudes a quaint air of relaxation with a friendly and genuine team at hand. Their kindness and care is reflected in their efforts to support the community and of course, their cakes are extremely delicious!”

Wally’s Kaffeehaus, located on the top floor of Wally’s deli in Royal Arcade has many  speciality beverages on the menu. These include kirsch hot chocolate for £3.25 and a mug of gluhwein for £3.95.

Fancy a cup of cheer this Christmas? Then head on down to the arcades for the most decadent brews, this side of town.

Did you hear about the Morgans?

You may be forgiven if your initial thoughts triggered memories of Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant escaping wild bears or riding bulls and horses at the rodeo.

In Cardiff, merely whisper the word ‘Morgan’, and you will be pointed in the direction of the best preserved of arcades – the magical Morgan Quarter, sparkling with Christmas lights right about now.

The Morgan Arcade and the Royal Arcade interconnect to form this upscale shopping destination. With over 50 boutiques, galleries, gourmet delis and cafes, it delights visitors every day of the week.

Ever wonder what it’s like working in a Victorian era building filled with so much history and charm?

Andrew, from Spillers Records, the world’s oldest record shop, describes the experience as working in a “micro climate.”

“All the shops know each other and everyone helps each other. Since it’s away from the hub of the main district, it’s peaceful as well,” Andrew describes.

Located in an avenue just off the Hayes, the arcade has managed to carve a name for itself as being chic and upscale. It’s unique boutiques are brimming with hidden gems.

Eva Morgan who has worked in the arcades for three years, gets it bang on target when she says: “I enjoy my job and enjoy being in the arcades. Our shops are quite niche.”

Quite rightly so.

Meet the Arcadians – Part 1

Just like a business couldn’t be successful without employees or a school wouldn’t be able to function as a centre of education without teachers and students, an arcade cannot exist  without Arcadians.

Arcadians, (another invented word) are the backbone of the arcades. They feel the arcade’s pulse, they monitor its’ beats and their roles – be it sales, marketing or customer service – is what makes the arcades’s cafes and boutiques pop to life!

Introducing a few Arcadians, (in no particular order):

Clive Ranger

Jessica Fisher, Clive Ranger, High Street Arcade

The Boardroom Coffee Shop

Caroline Nieuwenhuis & Michael Wright, The Boardroom Coffee Shop, Duke Street Arcade

Spit & Sawdust

George Manson, Duke Street Arcade

City Surf Cardiff

Guto Williams, City Surf Cardiff, High Street Arcade

3B's

Sakshi Adkar & Oscar Rodriquez, Bwyta Bwyd Bombai 3B’s, High Street Arcade

Miss Patisserie

Talisa, Miss Patisserie, High Street Arcade

Thank you for scrolling – stay tuned for more…

What is Arcadism?

Arcadism is an invented word. And it is defined as enhancing the viability of the glorious Victorian and Edwardian arcades dotted around Cardiff’s Castle Quarter and the Hayes. The arcades are a rich part of Cardiff’s heritage and collectively date back 148 years.

To understand the concept of ‘arcadism’, it is important to first know a little about each of the arcades. There are six of them to be precise.

Meet the arcades:
First, there is Castle Arcade, a multi storied architectural gem overlooking Cardiff Castle. It began commercial operations in 1887.

High Street Arcade follows suit and interconnects to Castle Arcade via a maze of beauty bars, hobby stores, artisan galleries, even an authentic Big Apple deli.

Duke Street Arcade is a corridor of secrets, and coffee shops waiting to be explored. It also interconnects the first two arcades to form the trio – Castle Quarter Arcades.

Round the corner, by the Cariff Central Library is the Royal Arcade. The oldest of the courts, but boasts of many gourmet cafes and quirky pen and paper stores.

The Morgan Arcade is described as being the most preserved of all the arcades and is also located on St Mary street, linking it to the Hayes.

Together, Royal Arcade and Morgan Arcade form the quintissential Morgan Quarter.

Wyndham Arcade, unlike the rest was built in the Edwardian era and is an alleyway of quaint shops. It runs parallel to Cardiff’s Cafe Quarter, Mill Lane, cutting through to the bottom of St Mary Street. It is popular for afternoon tea.

People’s verdict:
Almost everyone would agree that the arcades hold charm and character, and give Cardiff a certain ‘je ne sais quoi.’ Catherine Woods, the owner of Green Valley Moves and a long time resident of Cardiff says, “I think there is something quintessentially Cardiff about the arcades which show off the beautiful Victorian architecture in the vicinity.”

According to Catherine there is something really unique about having a compact city that has wonderful arcades threaded through. “It’s intimacy also allows independent specialist shops to survive which is great for the local economy,” Catherine explains further.

Larissa Camargo, a visitor from Brazil echoes Catherine in her sentiments by adding:”I think it makes Cardiff unique, as you don’t go around seeing the same shops you would in every other city.”

Cardiff Arcades

Empty chairs need to be filled

Word in the corridor:
Independent businessmen and women in the arcades all share a common view. That business in the arcades isn’t what it used to be. Partly due to newer shopping malls like St.David’s Shopping Centre promoting the opening of mega chain stores. The shopping mall is taking all the glory (along with all the customers). Take for example the fact that the arcades close shop by 6pm. St.David’s is open till 8pm on weekdays.

The core objective of arcadism thus becomes clearer in this context. It’s to rally around the arcades and increase footfall and customer visits via social media. The most powerful of voices.