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Wales Millennium Centre celebrates 20 years of transforming creativity in Wales

02 Feb 2024 8 minute read
Michael Sheen as Nye at WMC. Image: WMC

Wales Millennium Centre marks its 20th anniversary in 2024, and this year is set to be one of its boldest and most exciting yet, with a series of groundbreaking performances and collaborations.

Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) has become one of the nation’s most iconic public building and national arts centres and, at a time of economic challenges, WMC continues to play a vital role sustaining creativity, inspiring future generations and championing new storytelling. 

In this anniversary year WMC will start an exciting transformation, creating new spaces in the building for future generations to develop skills and maximise opportunities in the creative industries and beyond. Meanwhile, throughout the year, audiences will discover world-class performances, major collaborations, WMC’s much-loved annual music and arts festival and free opportunities to experience pioneering digital storytelling.


The work of WMC is driven by a belief that creativity is crucial to the wellbeing and prosperity of everyone in Wales. Making WMC a creative home for everyone is possible thanks to the support of a community of individuals, corporates, trusts and foundations, whose essential contribution builds on a foundation from the Arts Council of Wales.   


Nye is WMC’s major co-production with the National Theatre in London. This inspirational story of Welshman ‘Nye’ Bevan showcases Welsh talent, from playwright Tim Price to the choreographer, composer and majority Welsh cast, led by Michael Sheen.  It will be performed in WMC’s world class 1,900 seat Donald Gordon Theatre 18 May – 1 June, the second largest stage in Europe, about which Andrew Lloyd Webber said, ‘There’s nowhere in London that comes close to this facility’.    

This co-production builds on recent WMC successes with productions of The Boy With Two Hearts which also transferred to the National Theatre, Branwen: Dadeni, a large-scale musical in Welsh with a sold-out tour, and Es & Flo which toured to London’s Kiln Theatre.

Pontypool by Hefin Robinson

October sees the world premiere of WMC’s Pontypool, a new stage adaptation of the story that turned the zombie genre on its head. Based on the original radio play by Tony Burgess which inspired the 2008 cult film, Pontypool uses immersive sound design and WMC’s intimate Weston studio to create a groundbreaking experience in horror. 

A special highlight will be on WMC’s birthday, 26 November, when the multi award-winning cultural phenomenon Hamilton, by Lin Manuel Miranda and produced by Cameron Mackintosh, will begin its run – on the exact date the building opened in 2004. A special event will be hosted to celebrate the opening and the show will run until 25 January 2025.

Other major events to be hosted at WMC include productions from our residents at the Welsh National Opera, dance from Matthew Bourne and Rambert, and transfers from London’s West End including Wicked, Pretty Woman, Come from Away and Hairspray.

Immersive digital storytelling

WMC is committed to new ways of telling stories and in 2022 it opened its new Bocs venue to showcase free immersive digital experiences. Bocs is unique in a UK arts centre, a space specially designed for 360-degree films and projections as well as XR experiences, including augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality. A special event takes place in May, when audiences will be invited to experience the UK premiere of VR installation Empereur, an interactive and narrative experience which invites the user to travel inside the brain of a father suffering from aphasia. Empereur won the prestigious Venice Immersive Achievement Award at the Venice International Film Festival. 

Photo : Copyright © Simon Ridgway, 2018 | |[email protected] | 07973 442527 | Caption : 18.07.18, Wales Millennium Centre.

Working at the intersection between technology and the arts, WMC is investing in the future of creativity and is the official Welsh partner of prestigious new three-year cross-UK ‘Immersive Arts’ project.  This will enable WMC to further its research into immersive technologies which include motion capture and games engines used to make virtual and augmented reality apps. The investment will allow WMC to further support skills development in extended reality and break down barriers for artists of all backgrounds to engage with immersive tools.

WMC is also collaborating with the National Broadcast Archive of Wales to explore the immersive potential of this extraordinary historical asset, as the entire collection becomes digitised. 

Music, festival and cabaret vibes

Llais, WMC’s international arts festival, returns in October with an awesome line-up of acts and voices, events and workshops that will fill all the spaces of Wales Millennium Centre.

WMC’s collaboration with Butetown Carnival, continues – just one of over 150 community-led performances and experiences that last year brought over 11,000 local people into the building.

Highlights at WMC’s Cabaret venue, the first purpose-built space of its kind for Wales, include comedy’s first BAFTA Breakthrough winner Luisa Omielan’s show Bitter on 6 April and the multi-award-winning freestyle rap comedian, MC Hammersmith, on 2 May 2024, as well as  Hay Festival, which will be bringing a new Hay Festival After Hours event for an evening of readings, performances and provocations.

Among many world-renowned musical artists playing on WMC stages, the resident orchestra BBC National Orchestra of Wales perform throughout the year, and Sir Karl Jenkins hosts his 80th birthday concert.

Developing future talent

There is a skills shortage in the creative industries and WMC is repurposing spaces in order to provide more training and opportunities for young people. The new youth-led Platfform studios, co-designed with 15–25-year-olds, are planned to include recording studios, digital labs and rehearsal and performance areas, to complement the current youth radio station. With initial support from the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, WMC will be able to open the first of these spaces in 2024 and will be seeking additional sources of funding to complete the redevelopment over the next 12–18 months. 

WMC continues to grow its impact on the creative economy of Wales, developing infrastructure and opportunities for future generations.  This includes free 6-week accredited Creative Voice training courses across a range of creative skills, workshops and experiences, and an expansion of its Life Hack careers fair for 14–25-year-olds to highlight digital opportunities.  Through WMC’s work with partners, more young people from all backgrounds across Wales will get hands-on experience and greater understanding of the potential of the creative industries, one of Wales and the UK’s biggest success stories.

Looking further ahead, ambitions include a new production and skills facility for Cardiff Bay, to ensure more rehearsal and digital production space and industry training for Wales’ creatives. 

World-leading resident organisations

Across the 7.5 acre site WMC hosts eight leading arts organisations, whose multi-award-winning work will be creating waves throughout the 20th anniversary: Welsh National Opera, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Dance Company Wales, Literature Wales, touch-based movement charity Two Rhythms, touring theatre company Hijinx, Welsh music agency Tŷ Cerdd, and youth organisation Urdd Gobaith Cymru.

Performances take place in the Donald Gordon theatre, Bocs digital space, Weston studio theatre, Wolfson studio, Cabaret, Hoddinot Concert Hall and the Dance Hall.

Bocs model image. Credit: WMC and Brad Caleb Lee

Graeme Farrow, Artistic and Creative Director of Wales Millennium Centre, says: “2024 is a hugely exciting year for Wales Millennium Centre as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. There is no other cultural producer and venue of this scale in the country, and we play a vital role in the creative industries locally and nationally.

“We maintain the health of one of Wales’ greatest economic drivers and also the health of the audiences, artists and communities we serve and support through the breadth and depth of our work. However, finding new sources of income is now more vital than ever given our charitable status, rising costs and the extent of cuts to our sector and beyond.

“Our work fires imaginations and champions the potential of creativity, which is why we’re developing new physical and digital spaces to allow more young people not just to access our programmes, but to create their own, find their creative voice, tell their stories and help us to shape our work now and into the future.”


“We believe that the meeting point of art and technology is a thrilling area to explore, opening up new audiences and providing new opportunities to connect people. It is critical to the future of creativity and this is why we’re investing wholeheartedly in immersive digital storytelling.

“Wales is proud of its culture and language and we have a responsibility to help sustain creativity here for future generations, to inspire the nation for the next 20 years and beyond. We will continue to make space and opportunities for creativity to thrive with artists, communities and young people.

“We will develop new stories in new ways and bring people together within our iconic building for incredible shows and experiences. We invite everyone to celebrate our anniversary with us, and be part of our future!”

For more information, or to book any of the events listed, visit the WMC website.

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