So this time 6 months ago we were talking about the best place to watch the Autumn International rugby in Swansea. The game has come a long way since then, and so has our beloved city, so let’s take a look at the best places to watch a thrilling Six Nations game this spring.
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Do you enjoy a sweet treat? Then we bet you’re looking forward to Pancake Day on Tuesday 17th February 2015 aren’t you? Well, if you’ll be in our stunning city on this date there are some great places where you can enjoy this dessert. Here’s some of our favourite places to eat in Swansea at this time of year:
The most romantic day of the year is just a few sleeps away, and if you want to make it extra special this year why not make it a weekend to remember in Swansea?
There’s plenty of things to do in Swansea. From beautiful coastline to bustling city life. Here are a few entertaining dinner and show ideas to inspire you:
Country Legends and Waterside Dining
If you like country music then you will love this show at the Swansea Grand Theatre – for one night only! The Solid Gold Country Legends tour has been voted Best Event by the British C.M.As and is now set to serenade lovers in Swansea this Valentine’s Day.
With old classics from Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, to modern favourites like Shania Twain, this show has a vast catalogue of songs that is sure to get you singing along. And with all the glitz and glamour of the costume changes it will keep you on the tip of your toes throughout.
For a delicious meal before, or maybe some drinks after, pay a visit to the bay side establishment, The River House Restaurant and Lounge. It’s just a short walk from the theatre, and will offer a unique (and romantic) dining experience in chic surroundings that will really make your Valentine’s Day evening.
6 Nations Rugby and Sizzling Steak
Okay, so admittedly rugby may not be the most romantic activity to do this weekend. But with England v Italy and Ireland v France on Saturday, plus the Welsh game on Sunday, this is a must-not-miss event for any sports lover.
There are plenty of great places to watch rugby in Swansea. In fact, we’ve blogged about it here – Where to Watch the Rugby in Swansea.
But if you are looking to sit down and enjoy a meal together just the two of you once that final whistle has been blown we’d recommend you visit Seagers Steak Restaurant and Grillhouse.
Located just outside the city centre, it is likely to be a little quieter, and the food here is great. There’s a vast choice of steaks, chicken, burgers and fish so there is something indulgent for every palate, whether it be a victory or condolence meal.
Beautiful Burlesque and Vegetarian Delights
Swansea Grand Theatre will be bursting at the seams with glitter and glamour this Valentine’s Day thanks to an evening of sassy burlesque in its Arts Wing.
This 18+ show is the hot ticket of the night so make sure to book quick, or risk disappointment of missing international starlet, Scarlett Daggers in her comedic and curvaceous ‘Mad Love’ show.
For something tasty before the big show, book a table at the nearby Govinda Vegetarian Café. They have a mouth-watering cake stand on display here, and if you book in advance, they’ll make a personalised dessert for your loved one.
Sometimes when you’re out on a date, the last thing you feel like doing is tucking into a heavy three course meal. At Mosaic, you can enjoy tapas, meze and small dishes – perfect! The best thing about tapas is that you can have a little dabble at everything, and what’s more intimate than sharing?
The food is fresh, inventive and affordable, using both local and exotic ingredients to create something a little bit different. Baked balsamic peaches with goat’s cheese and wild honey dressing is not a dish that you stumble across often! Neither is spicy paprika & citrus marinated chicken. Have we set stomachs rumbling? Be sure to order some delicious rustic bread with oil/vinegar: a classic choice, and sweet potato fries are always a winning side.
Whilst it may not be a traditional restaurant, this modern eatery is the perfect place to go for a swanky evening in a less formal setting. Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year which means that if you choose to dine at Mosaic, you can enjoy live music. A date at Mosaic is sure to go down well.
Known as one of the city’s best-loved restaurants, La Braseria will not disappoint. If the food is good enough for Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas, you know you’re onto a winner. The restaurant has been around for over two decades, so it must be doing something right!
La Braseria serves up fresh locally sourced food influenced by the Mediterranean, and offers an extensive wine menu, majoring in French and Spanish wines. If you’re feeling extra generous, why not go for a bottle of the fine stuff? La Braseria boasts one of the most complete champagne lists outside of London and what better day to celebrate with a bottle of bubbly than on Valentine’s Day?!
So what can you eat at this rustic Mediterranean restaurant? The A La Carte menu offers a huge range of starters that are certain to tickle your fancy, and a spoilt-for-choice selection of meats and fish including fillet steak, crispy honeyed duck and a seafood platter for two – the ultimate dish for a romantic Valentine’s date! If you’re after a stunning meal in cosy surroundings, La Braseria is your answer.
Which one will you choose? Be sure to let us know by tweeting us @TheDragonHotel with a brief review as well as the names of your favourite places to eat in Swansea!
A visit to Swansea is well worth it. There are beautiful scenic walks, blue flag beaches and a vibrant city life, but what do you do should the weather turn sour? If you are looking for things to do in Swansea in the rain we have the perfect answer – a show at the Grand Theatre!
Swansea Grand Theatre – What’s on in 2015?
The Grand Theatre has been a staple part of the city’s entertainment scene for nearly 120 years and it shows no sign of losing popularity anytime soon. Located between Wind Street and the sea, the Grand Theatre is perfectly located to end a pleasant day by the seaside or to start an evening of drinks and dancing.
There are some big faces and well-known plays gracing the stage over the next 12 months. Let’s take a look at our pick of the most anticipated events.
Up For a Laugh?
Many comedians will be making the Swansea audience giggle with delight this year. If you are looking for a laugh why not book to see one of the following performers?
Ross Noble – Tangentleman, 7th Feb, £25
Omid Djalili – Iranalamadingdong, 19th Feb, £23.50
Alan Davies – Little Victories, 28th Mar, £25.50
Dara O’Briain – Crowd Ticker, 4th Apr, £23.50
Lee Nelson – Suited and Booted, 27th Apr, £20.50
Milton Jones – And the Temple of Daft, 15th May, £24.50
Alan Carr – Yap, Yap, Yap! 23rd May, £30.50
Tim Vine – Tim Timinee Tim Timinee Tim Tim To You, 6th June, £21.50
Ruby Wax – Sane New World, 29th Jun, £18.00
Kevin Bridges – A Whole Different Story, 1st and 2nd Jul, £25.00
Stewart Francis – Pun Gent, 14th Nov, £19.00
Scare Yourself Senseless
For a gripping theatre experience, you’ll want to see Stephen Mallatratt’s adaption of the Susan Hill novel, The Woman in Black.
The Woman in Black has seen many versions over the years. It was showing on the West End for 25 years and has been made into a film, so Swansea had to get a taste of the action.
Described as ‘gripping’ and ‘thrilling’ we would be surprised if you didn’t end up screaming while watching this cleverly created play.
23rd Feb – 28th Feb, matinees and evening shows, £13.00 to £23.00
Swansea will be brought to life with plenty of colour and song this April, with a one night only production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
Opera & Ballet International proudly present this Ellen Kent production starring Korean soprano Elena Dee and the Japanese Miki Mori. Madama Butterfly is one of the world’s most popular operas and this version won’t disappoint.
25th Apr, £15.00 to £33.00
See Something Unusual
Cirque Berserk at Swansea Grand Theatre will shock and amaze you. With four sold-out years at London Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and a nationwide tour, this contemporary circus show is bringing its danger-filled stunts, and classic circus skills to the Welsh population.
2nd Mar – 3rd Mar, various times, £16.00 to £22.00
If you like the sound of any of these shows then why not make it a trip to Swansea for the entire weekend? We have some great special offers on at the moment here at the Dragon Hotel. Check them out here. And for a delicious meal after the show, pay a visit to our Dragon Brasserie and Cafe Bar!
Swansea Marina is where the city meets the sea. With blue flag status since 2005 and 5 gold anchors from the Yacht Harbour Association, this is a boating area to rival the best in the country.
Swansea Marina is in a great location with direct access to the River Tawe, just a short journey away from the Bristol Channel, making it a convenient location for trips short and long. At the end of the day step off your boat and into the cosmopolitan area of bars and restaurants along the waterside for a delicious meal with a view.
And after a long summer out at sea, Swansea Marina has a boat yard where you can service your boat or pop into the shops for some essential equipment.
If you are looking for somewhere to moor your boat in South Wales, Swansea Marina makes a great option. The main marina is split into three phases:
• Phase 1 is the closest to the River Tawe and therefore is accessed via the marina lock.
• Phase 2 is the next along and is accessed through the swing bridge. Near to this you will find the National Waterfront Museum and the Swansea Museum boats.
• Phase 3 is the furthest away from the marina lock and is found at the foot of the Swansea landmark – the Meridian Tower.
(image: Swansea Marina)
Swansea Marina Facilities and Services
Car parking – There are many options for parking your car. Berth holders or visitors can pay and display in the north side car park, or there is another area near the bridgehead gates.
For long stay parking, the boatyard is open during the summer months. You will need a parking permit sticker to park here. These are available from the reception.
Maintenance – The boatyard is home to many businesses who can repair your boat, whether you have hull, wood or even electrical problems. There is a 20ton travel hoist available, as well as a crane for masts.
If you would like to store items while your boat is on land there is free but limited storage for annual berth holders.
Rubbish and Recycling – At the top of each bridgehead you will find the refuse compounds. Here there will be trolleys parked for your convenience. Sealed rubbish bags should go in the skips and there is a number of recycling options located here too.
Telephones – Mobile phone signal in the marina is generally quite good, but there is a public payphone on the north side bridgehead gate in phase 1 should you need to use it.
Water, Diesel and Gas – Water pipes are fitted to fill tanks from the pontoons, and there are diesel pumps on both sides of the lock. You can also pick up bottled diesel or gas from the marina office. There is no petrol available here, but there are sources nearby.
Laundry – If you would like to do some washing when in the marina there is a laundrette in the reception. You will have to supply your own washing powder though.
Electricity – Electricity supply in the marina is controlled by pay-as-you-go cards. You can get your own card and have credit put on it in the marina office, or there are vending machines in M bridgehead.
Toilets and Showers – Access to toilets and showers is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but you will need a marina pontoon security fob to get in. You can obtain one of these in the south control building, next to the phase 1 north side bridgehead, or near the phase 2 south side bridgehead.
Other Facilities or services:
• Free WiFi
• Onsite boat engineer, chandler and sale maker
• Nearby beach
• Contract extensions available when away
Marina Opening Times
Reception is open from 7am to 9pm between April and September, and from 7am to 6pm the rest of the year.
The locks are open as follows:
Every day BST 7am to 10pm
Weekends GMT 7am to 10pm
Week days GMT 7am to 7pm
Even if you don’t have a boat Swansea Marina is a great place to visit. There’s something so peaceful about the water despite being so close to the city. And the bars and restaurants here offer some brilliant views out to sea.
Plus it’s under a mile away from the Dragon Hotel, so we think it is one of the best places to go in Swansea.
Swansea’s bay is undergoing a major facelift at the moment, and there seems to be no plans to stop progress any time soon. So let’s take a look at the latest development updates for the area.
Swansea University Bay Campus
Swansea University’s £450million regeneration project in the bay is now well underway. The Science and Innovation Bay Campus has seen its first building completed and handed over by the developer St. Modwen. This new development will be home to research and commercial activities, where manufacturing products and processes can be developed seamlessly.
(image: Wales Online)
A £100m development for The University of Wales Trinity Saint David, which includes the old Swansea Metropolitan University, will also be built in Swansea Bay. The SA1 waterfront is the ‘ideal’ location for their new campus with a 19acre site, and it is hoped that the project will begin building by the end of 2016.
As well as university buildings, there is plans for sport and social facilities, student accommodation as well as research space.
A Seafront Civic Centre
Swansea’s Civic Centre by the sea is known as a local landmark and is now the latest part of the city to be marketed to developers far and wide as the perfect plot for redevelopment.
The area between the Quadrant, St David’s shopping centre and the sea is the prime target for early 2015 marketing efforts. And the 16acre council space is said to be a great spot for a brand new hotel, along with leisure facilities, retail businesses or housing.
Swansea Tidal Lagoon
(image: Wales Online)
The UK government are in talks with developers to make Swansea Bay home to a £1billion plan to build a power-generating tidal lagoon. The first of its kind in the world!
The Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, has named the potential project in the National Infrastructure Plan, and it is rumoured it may be approved before the general election in May.
If plans are successful and the tidal lagoon is built the turbines could generate power for 155,000 homes, and it could give the bay added protection from coastal flooding. 1,900 jobs would be created to build and support the project, with an additional 180 jobs available once it is operational.
A Public Square in the Sky
Swansea Council are not only focusing on the redevelopment of the bay area, but also of the city centre. And latest plans could see a new ‘raised’ public square with shops and cafes along Oystermouth Road.
This would see a new ground level created between St David’s shopping centre and the marina in order to maximise the stunning coastal views.
This idea is just one of many proposed at the moment. There are no concrete plans as of yet for this project to go ahead.
Here at the Dragon Hotel Swansea we like the sound of these great developments helping our Welsh city to be the best it can be. Why not come and see the city yourself? We have some great special offers on at the hotel at the moment.
“What to do in Swansea?” may be a question hot on your lips if you are planning a stay at the Dragon Hotel. Well, a must-stop, just around the corner, is Swansea market.
Swansea Market: A Brief History
Swansea market started nearly a thousand years ago when people began gathering on the castle grounds to sell their wares. In 1652 a formal market hall was built in Castle Square but this was soon outgrown. So in 1830 the market was re-sited to Oxford Street near where it stands today.
Yet again this market became too small and in 1897 a brand new purpose built, totally enclosed market opened. By the 1920s the market was huge with over 670 stalls but sadly it was devastated by German bombing during the Second World War.
After the devastation of the war the market traded as open air stalls until the £1.25million was raised for the current market to be built. The market opened in 1961 and has been an iconic part of Swansea city ever since.
Why Visit Swansea Market?
Swansea market is Wales’ largest indoor market with over 100 stalls selling a variety of produce, many of which have been serving Swansea’s population for generations (Coakley-Green Fishmongers has been run by the same family here for 158 years).
The market holds the following stalls:
• Bakery and confectionary
• Cards and gifts
• Clothing, footwear and accessories
• Deli and health foods
• Electrical tools
• Fish and seafood
• Fruit and vegetables
• Homewares and fabrics
• Cosmetics, perfume and toiletries
Ladies, if you are looking for make-up, perfume or any form of cosmetic or toiletry The Powder Room is well worth a visit. Here you can get well-known branded products for a fraction of the price seen on the high street with no compromise on quality. And there’s always some colourful scarves and other accessories lining the door if you fancy a browse.
Grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafés in the centre of the market such as Sandy’s Lunchbox or the Country Kitchen, and purchase a pot of cockles at one of the local seafood rotundas. The Norfolk Bakery do some great Welsh cakes for dessert.
If you want to take a little prezzie back for your friends and family we’d recommend the homemade preserves from the A Little Bit Welsh stall or maybe a selection of coasters filled with beautiful photos of the Welsh coast and countryside from stall 8 – Wales Through a Lens. At £1.50 a coaster they’re a bargain!
Swansea market is open 6 days a week (7 in the run up to Christmas), 8am to 5:30pm during weekdays and 7:30am to 5:30pm on Saturdays. And you will find the market on:
There are multiple entrances to the market. These can be found on:
1. Oxford Street
2. Union Street
4. The Quadrant
If you are travelling here from the Dragon Hotel, the Quadrant entrance opposite Primark is your best bet and only half a mile’s walk away.
So the next time you are wondering what do in Swansea you know the answer – a trip to the market!
Get out there and explore what Wales has to offer this winter with a walk from Langland to Caswell Bay. It’s a beautiful walk and is the perfect answer to the question – what to do in Swansea?
Essential Walking Information
Suitable For: All
Distance: 2 miles
Time: 1 hour
The walk from Langland Bay to Caswell is a pleasant one and perfect for walkers of all abilities and ages. The terrain is varied with smooth and uneven surfaces as well as a few steps, but nothing too tiresome. You’ll also cross the golf course, so look out for flying balls!
The cliffs between Caswell and Langland have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and therefore are a popular viewing point for geologists. Why not see if you can spot the formations in the rocks for yourself?
Langland Bay is easily accessible by car thanks to its close proximity to the Mumbles. And it has its very own pay and display carpark right next to the beach where you will start off the walk. Here you will also find conveniences such as public toilets and refreshments.
If you plan on travelling by public transport, you can get to Langland on the 2C bus from Swansea Bus Station that goes to Newton. This runs every 15 minutes, Monday to Saturday.
The walk starts at the pay and display car park at Langland Bay, and thanks to its circular route ends here too. Start your journey by walking past the first few beach huts on your left and turning up a small lane that leads away from the beach and towards Brynfield Road. Turn to your left and follow towards Langland Bay Golf Club.
Just before you reach the clubhouse turn tight and follow the footpath across another pathway. Be aware there is a ‘no entry’ sign here. The path will then lead to a track which you should cross over before heading up the bank to the second track. Cross over this track also and climb the stairs back to the third track, which you previously followed.
Here you should turn right and you will find yourself retracing your steps back to Caswell Road. Make a number of quick turns here until you reach Hillgrove. This is a private road but a public footpath. This again will cross the golf course before leading to steps down to the coastal path. Turn left at the bottom of the steps and head back to Langland Bay. Your walk is complete.
While taking your walk look up to the skies where you may be able to spot the local wildlife, such as the rare chough – there are only 4 pairs known to live on the Gower. You’ll know which bird it is as it looks like a crow with a red beak and legs. Plus it has a distinct call.
You may also see other rare birds such as the peregrine falcon or the raven along the trip. And grey seals are commonly seen poking their heads out of the water just off the shore.
Besides the animal spotting, this is an enjoyable walk come rain or shine, and is one of many great outdoor activities to do in Swansea. Langland beach is lined with colourful vintage huts and there are spectacular views out over the Bristol Channel.
Once you’ve got your dose of the South Wales fresh air, why not come back to the hotel to refuel. We currently have a special offer on afternoon tea which we’re sure will time perfectly with your arrival. Take a look!
Swansea may only have been a city since 1969, but its history goes back way further. Let’s take a look back at a brief history of our hometown.
Hundreds of Years Ago
Swansea has long been a settlement and relics have been found on the Gower Peninsula that suggests people lived and worked in the area during the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age. Swansea saw the Romans come and go, and the area was greatly established by the Vikings.
The Vikings used Swansea as a trading post and some believe it was the Vikings that gave the city its name. It wasn’t, however, seen until the 13th century in its Welsh form ‘Abertawe’, around the same period that Swansea became a borough.
There had long been a castle in Swansea since before the Vikings arrived. This was most likely an oval enclosure which overlooked the River Tawe, and was surrounded by a bailey. The castle was attacked in 1116 and was continuously attacked until it fell in 1217.
In 1220 the castle was given to the English and the inner castle was walled in stone with new towers built. Later in the century the outer bailey was walled, but very little of this stone masterpiece can be seen today. Only two walls still stand.
The castle lost its importance by the 15th century and was later used as a town hall, prison and market.
When Swansea was first established it was known as a trading port for wine, hides and other fabrics, but during the industrial revolution coal and copper smelting took over. From 1720 onwards the smelters in Swansea saw a prosperous lifestyle and the town got its nickname ‘Copperopolis’.
In fact, Swansea was so well-off its population grew 500% between 1600 and 1800, making it Wales’ second most populous city. In 1881 over a third of the population was born outside of Swansea and Glamorgan, with a quarter coming from outside of Wales. At this time 60% of the copper ores imported to Britain were smelted in Swansea.
The 20th Century
By the time the 20th century began the heavy industry in Swansea had begun to calm down, and post-industrial, service sector careers became more fashionable. Much of the lower Swansea valley therefore lay unloved and empty with many derelict factories. This is the same Enterprise Zone and dockland areas that are being developed today in Llansamlet and Morriston.
Sadly, Swansea’s great success as an industrial centre meant it was a hot spot for bombing during the world wars and little of the previous city now exists. As a result, much of Swansea’s buildings are post-war, the road layouts are however much the same.
Places you may recognise today are the Quadrant Shopping Centre opened in 1978, the St David’s Centre opened in 1982 and the BT Tower built in 1970. Swansea’s leisure centre opened in 1977, but is now almost unrecognisable after extensive refurbishment which retained some elements of the original structure.
(image: The Wave’s Twitter)
Did you know that the Dragon Hotel is over 50 years old? Our hotel has been a city centre landmark for decades, but thanks to the £3.7million refurbishment in 2005 you would think it is brand new.
We’ve seen Swansea change a lot over the years we’ve been here, why not ask our staff where you can visit some other historical buildings. We know of plenty of activities and attractions for you to try.