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New Cardiff festival aims to rival major European events

15 May 2024 4 minute read
Leftfield (pictured) and Orbital will headline the opening night of Cardiff Music City Festival at the Utilita Arena in Cardiff on September 27. Photo by Martin Paul Eve is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

A new festival set to launch this year in Cardiff will include gigs in unexpected places across the city and aims to rival other major events in Europe.

Cardiff Music City Festival, which will run from September 27 to October 20, will bring together a number of existing music and cultural events across the city, like the Swn and Llais festivals, and showcase additional major acts and pop up events.

Headline acts for Cardiff Music City include electronic music artists Orbital and Leftfield, who will both play at the Utilita Arena on the opening night of the festival.


Speaking at a Cardiff Council economy and culture scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, May 14, local authority officials said this year’s event would act as a pilot, but the ambition was for it to run every year and to build a reputation similar to popular European festivals like Sonar Barcelona and Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg.

Cardiff Council’s operational manager for tourism and investment, Jon Day, called the festival a very ambitious project and that the team behind it had been looking at other “substantial festivals” for inspiration.

Mr Day said: “Overall what we want to do is create a period of time in Cardiff where people want to visit the city to take part in music events and people want to perform in the city in relation to music events.”

Secret gigs

Operational manager for creative industries and culture development at the council, Ruth Cayford, said the festival would include secret gigs and gigs in unexpected locations to make it distinctive, referencing Llandaff Cathedral as a potential venue.

Some of the venues that have been confirmed so far include BBC Central Square, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cornerstone, Depot, Mad Dog Brewery, Moon, Porters, Tiny Rebel and Tramshed.

The festival, which is supported by Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government, will also include wider fringe activity around the city.

Mr Cayford said: “We are looking at other takeovers of existing spaces for genres of music, so you come across different experiences going across the city.

“We have had some interesting call outs and demands for what people are asking for as part of the pop ups.”

The council officer added that they had received £600,000 from the Welsh Government for the festival.


Ms Cayford and Mr Day said the key challenge for the festival this year would be to show that it was worth funding for subsequent years. Cardiff Council said the festival aimed to attract 20,000 people in its first year.

Ms Cayford said: “The ideal scenario would be multi-year funding because.. the way the music industry works is you are programming two or three years in advance, so by the time you get the funding application in and get those decisions made… you are missing those opportunities for those big acts.

“I think if we want to be as ambitious as we need, we need to look at… the possibilities of a multiple year package.”

The team behind the festival is confident it will make an impact. Ms Cayford said: “We have always said that we want this to grow into an event that everybody thinks of Cardiff and thinks of the Cardiff Music City Festival and thinks of the music scene as we do when we think of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh festival.

“If you think, that has been going for over 75 years. I’m hoping it won’t take us that long to gain the reputation, but looking at it… I think even this year we will make an impact.

“[In] three years it will be embedded into the scene because I think we have designed something that is unique.”

You can find out more about Cardiff Music City Festival here.

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