Located in Cardiff, Wales along the Cardiff Bay, the Wales Millennium Centre is a 4.1-acre arts and entertainment complex, showcasing a variety of annual theatrical, dance, opera, and comedy performances. Prior to the development of the Wales Millennium Centre, plans to create an opera house on Cardiff Bay to serve as a permanent venue for the Welsh National Opera were embarked upon in the early 1990s.
Though an international architecture competition was conducted and selected a design by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, funding for the project was pulled in late 1995, as primary funder the Millennium Commission, the governing distributor behind the United Kingdom’s National Lottery, pulled support for the project in favor of diverting funds to the Millennium Stadium. A new plan for a more comprehensive multi-genre entertainment house was devised, looking to more fully reflect the diversity of Welsh arts and culture, and the project’s name was changed to the Wales Millennium Centre. Land for the project was acquired by the Cardiff Council and funding was secured by the Millennium Commission and Welsh Assembly, with additional funding provided by private investor Donald Gordon in the form of a £20 million donation. The first phase of the complex opened to the public on November 26, 2004, with a second phase opened with an inaugural concert on January 22, 2009.
Venues and Attractions
Today, the Wales Millennium Centre is the home of nine resident arts organizations, including several official national arts organizations and performance ensembles. As the primary arts venue and cultural center in Wales, the Centre presents a variety of touring and resident company multidisciplinary productions throughout the year, including theatrical, opera, dance, and comedy performances. The Centre is operated through funding by the Arts Council of Wales in the form of an annual public investment grant and is a major economic endeavor for the Wales community, bringing in more than £78 million in revenue annually. More than 1.5 million visitors attend annual season performances at five performance venues and a recording studio facility.
The Centre’s primary venue is its Donald Gordon Theatre, which seats 1,897 audience members and is primarily utilized for national and international touring opera, musical theater, and dance performances. Other performance venues on site include the Westin Studio Theatre 250, as well as a dance venue, a 160-seat cabaret theater, and a 100-seat Blue Room venue. Additionally, the BBC Hoddinott Hall recording facility hosts in-studio performances and is used as a recording studio for BBC programming. A number of conference and rehearsal rooms are also located throughout the complex, including six conference function rooms within the Donald Gordon Theatre, dance studios for resident dance troupes, and a 153-accommodation hostel, the Urdd City Sleepover.
Nine arts organizations call the Wales Millennium Centre home, including the Welsh National Opera, which presents resident and international touring performances throughout its regular performance season. The Centre is also home to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the country’s only national symphony orchestra body, and the National Dance Company of Wales, formerly known as Diversions. The Centre’s resident theatrical troupe, Hijinx Theatre, focuses on community involvement for theater participants of all ages, while the Touch Trust performance organization facilitates movement therapy programming for special needs populations. The Ty Cerdd music information center provides access to resources for aspiring young musicians, including the Welsh Amateur Music Federation and the Cyfansoddwyr Cymru Composers of Wales nonprofit organization, while the Urdd Gobaith Cymru Welsh League of Youth serves as a resource for teaching Welsh language to the country’s youth. Literature Wales and the Arts Council of Wales also use the Centre as their primary office facility, and the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre provides tourism resources for area tourists. Family performance activities and workshops are also facilitated by the Centre regularly, including a regular Family Saturday event and a Toddler Time parent-child activity time.
A variety of pre- and post-show dining and refreshment options are offered throughout the complex, including the ffresh Bar and Restaurant, which serves traditional Welsh fare using locally-sourced ingredients. Contemporary wine offerings and tapas are offered at Bar ONE, while coffee, pastries, and snacks are available at the Centre’s Crema coffee shop and Caffi coffee bar. Three foyer bars are also provided throughout theater lobbies for drinks during performance times. Souvenirs and collectibles are offered at the Portmeirion Gift Shop, including official licensed Portmeirion pottery products and Centre-themed merchandise. Performance gift certificates and season pass memberships may also be purchased through the Centre’s website.
Bute Pl, Cardiff Bay CF10 5AL, UK, Phone: +44-29-20-63-64-64