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2023 Wrapped: End of Year Roundup

As another year draws to a close, journey with us as we take a reflective look back at some of our favourite moments from 2023. 

As we’re writing this blog, we’re wistfully staring out of the inscription windows in Awen bar, like we’re the main character in a cheesy made-for-TV holiday film, pondering the past year, before we ultimately press play on the Hamilton soundtrack for the tenth time this week.

We started the year with French revolutionaries storming the barricades and ended it soaring high above the Donald Gordon Theatre on a magic carpet ride. We welcomed so many incredible touring productions, but this peek at the past 12 months focuses on our personal achievements and events.





New year, new venues. 2023 saw the launch of numerous new spaces, starting with the transformation of Ffresh into Cabaret, a dedicated home for burlesque, comedy, gig theatre and more! “A taste of Soho in Cardiff Bay” – South Wales Life.

So many multi-coloured, diverse and jaw-dropping delights were welcomed this year in this safe space for everyone, and it has been well worth the wait.   

Our annual Life Hack events returned, beginning in Porth. This is a free and inspirational day for young people to meet with industry professionals and take part in creative and interactive workshops. 

In February attendees were introduced to film-making, stand-up comedy, costume making, MCing and so much more. Watch our highlights film for a taste of an unforgettable day. 

2023 facts:

96% of those in attendance agree that Life Hack helped them to engage with industry professionals, to join in and share ideas, and to understand what creative careers are available to them. 

‘... I found it useful and it has made me consider a new career path.’  

‘The main learning point for me was realising that I can specialise in more than one profession and don’t have to stick to one.’ 

     -       Attendee quotes



As we entered spring, Glanfa played host to our St. David’s Day celebrations, with cawl and choirs. Plus, new venue #2 was unveiled, as our old front of house and ticket desk regenerated into Ffwrnais, a spacious café-bar and lounge.

Perfect for remote working, lunchtime rests, pre-show meets and more, it is one of the biggest changes Wales Millennium Centre has witnessed. Don’t forget, you get 10% off your post-show drinks with your ticket, so why rush… have a sumptuous show debrief in one of the newest bars in the Bay. 

This year, for the first time, we hosted an Iftar, bringing communities of all faiths and backgrounds to celebrate the breaking of fast during Ramadan.

“I've never had this kind of experience in a workplace before. To be accepted for my religion and with other people of the same ethnicity, people of the local community and non-Muslims, all together in one building, is special…it's special”. 

You can hear more from Bablu Shikdar, a Muslim team member of Radio Platfform at Wales Millennium Centre, in his blog sharing his reflection on this momentous night. Get a sense of the event with our beautiful film.   

In April we allowed visitors to be peek “Behind the Curtain”, with a special one-day event, taking them backstage and beyond, to discover secrets and stories of Wales Millennium Centre. Guided tours, Cabaret cocktail taste tests and Q&As were part of the line-up for our unique experience, showcasing how this building works and why donations and funding from generous arts lovers and our members enhance what we do. 

2023 Facts:

97% of attendees left Behind The Curtain with a greater understanding of the work we carry out with young people, communities, and creatives, and 86% left feeling ‘energised and inspired’ by what they had seen and heard.’ 

‘It was fascinating to see the breadth of things which go on behind the scenes.’  

‘I was very impressed with the wide range of community programmes and activities.’ 

     -       Attendee quotes



Our in-house production Es & Flo premiered at the end of April, playing through May, before transferring to the Kiln Theatre in London in June. The debut play by writer Jennifer Lunn celebrates the love of an older lesbian relationship, women coming together to fight for what is right and the healing power of chosen family.

Receiving rousing reviews and evoking such powerful reactions, we feel incredibly lucky to finally bring this story to life, collaborating with a fierce and talented production team. Lunn went on to be nominated for Best Writer at The Stage Debut Awards later in the year, and the play was listed, again by The Stage, as one of their Top 50 shows of the year. Diolch

Whilst magical moments were happening inside our building, the outside was become a regular television star, appearing as a ‘postcard’ during this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, along with Copenhagen Opera House in Denmark and Lviv Opera House in Ukraine.

Then, we featured in a captivating, beautiful light show for King Charles III’s coronation. Both events were beamed across the world, bringing Cardiff, and our famous inscription, to the homes of millions. 





In July, our member’s lounge got a full revamp, and became Copr. The updated, beautiful interior and facilities can be enjoyed with different tiers of membership, all of which helps fund our core work with communities and young people. In the last year alone, 6,500+ 11–24-year-olds from across Wales were inspired through 1,350 free creative learning activities, and a further 11,000+ people joined together to enjoy 160 community-led performances and experiences in our building.

Diolch, your commitment and connection with us through Wales Millennium Centre membership makes a true difference to lives in Wales. 

This summer, different departments of Wales Millennium Centre came together to create a united campaign to highlight the impact of climate change and our own commitment to sustainability. A season of exhibitions, activities and experiences were interwoven for One Planet, One Chance. 



Our summer installation featured Otsi and Bubbles, mighty orangutans designed by Wild Creation, that hung from the rafters over the Glanfa space. An animal trail around the building, with artwork designed by local children, kept families busy, and in Bocs guests became part of the international premiere of Gondwana.

This one-of-a-kind VR and projection experience allowed guests to immerse themselves in the world's oldest tropical rainforest, in an explorable, free-roaming representation of the Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland, Australia. 

Watch our exclusive interview with Gondwana’s creators about how they made this unique event, their trips to the rainforest that inspired them and how proud they were to premiere their work in Cardiff. 

We worked with Butetown Arts and Cultural Association to help deliver another phenomenal Butetown Carnival, which brought Cardiff Bay to life with colour, music, and community events.  


August saw the official launch of our brand-new Welsh language musical Branwen: Dadeni, a co-production with the brilliant Frân Wen. We took to the National Eisteddfod to showcase this story and tease what audiences could expect from the momentous show.

The show’s lead, West End star Mared Williams, previewed songs with live performances and the teaser-trailer, filmed in Newborough Forest on Anglesey, aired on S4C during the festival.  





Autumn arrived and Welsh National Opera transformed the Donald Gordon Theatre with their new season of remarkable productions.

Cabaret returned after a jolly summer holiday with even more weird, wonderful and camp delights. Cabaret provides a space for a glorious mix of local talent, alongside the best fringe theatre and performers from around the UK and beyond. Ok, we are biased, but we truly feel there is nowhere else like it. Tickets = affordable. Vibes = aplenty. Lights = thank you to our incredible tech team. Their talents and time complete the experience.  



During the year many events take over the building, but none do it on the same scale as our annual international arts festival Llais. Over six days guests enjoyed an eclectic programme of music, theatre, workshops, sing-alongs and talks, with this year’s offering being co-curated by Mercury Music Prize nominee Gwenno. Plus, the Welsh Music Prize chose us as their host venue again, celebrating another fantastic year for Welsh talent, with Rogue Jones taking home the coveted award for their album Dos Bebés. 

During Llais, Bocs transported you to a time of punk music, anarchy and self-expression with the VR film Battlescar: Punk was Invented by Girls, accompanied by Wasteland of my Fathers, a unique exhibition all about the Welsh punk scene.  

You can see how Gwenno produced her immersive Sunday performance here and look back at this year’s festival in our highlights film below. 

Llais was further animated by our programme of free events, including performances from Pantasia Steel Pans, a community steels pans group brought together by local musician Wahda Placide for weekly rehearsals in the run up to Llais.  


‘Without this project I’d still be hiding away, overthinking, stressing, and now I have something to look forward to doing!’ Pantasia Steel Pans member. 

2023 facts:

For the first time this year, we introduced ‘pay what you can’ tickets for Llais, to help make the festival even more accessible. 

‘I was so grateful to be offered discounted tickets otherwise I wouldn't have been able to attend. I was blown away with the seat selection, venue and the show was out of this world.’   

Thanks to Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales whose support helped to make Llais 2023 possible.




The year may have been wrapping up, but we definitely weren’t slowing down. Branwen: Dadeni premiered on the second biggest stage in Europe, marking a massive moment for Welsh theatre. The scale and ambition were met with great praise in Cardiff, before setting off on a sold-out tour of Wales.  

Our immersive introduction to the arts Dros Nos returned, giving young people a chance to sleep under our copper roof with a sleepover and free workshops. This year it centred around Branwen: Dadeni and the Welsh language, and included a Q&A with the show’s creators plus stage combat and writing workshops.

2023 facts:

100% of those in attendance felt that they made new connections or friendships through Dros Nos. A further 81% agreed that Dros Nos had boosted their creative confidence and that it made them feel they could pursue a career in the creative industries:  

“I gained confidence to share my ideas in a creative environment.”  

“... I learned not to be scared of acting.”  

“I most enjoyed meeting new people and getting to learn more about the theatre industry from professionals.” 

     -       Attendee quotes 


There were stars inside the building, but the solar panels outside, on top of our roof, also took centre stage this year, grabbing headlines. In November we won the 2023 IWFM Impact Award for Positive Climate Action. Sustainability is at the top of our agenda, and this award substantiates our commitment to a cleaner, greener future. 


Christmas brought a beautiful winter exhibit, Nyth, to our building, which consists of sculptural nest by artists Catrin Doyle and Helen Malia, with accompanying art pieces in Ffwrnais. 

There are three animated films by Efa Blosse-Mason and Casi Wyn to be viewed in Bocs too, all free, in collaboration with the Wales Broadcast Archive. Experience the stunning animations until 14 January – they are played on a loop throughout the day so pop in anytime. While you’re here, get warm and cosy with our menu of festive delight in Ffwrnais, including mulled wine, stollen, Aladdin themed cocktails and mince pies.  

Our Christmas cabaret show team returned for their third and final year. The First XXXmas: A Very Naughty-tivity by Duncan Hallis and his talented collaborators is a five-star spectacle that must be seen to be believed. There are some tickets remaining for the run, but hurry before it sells out – it must end on New Year’s Eve, bringing our sensational year to an end.  


Another year almost done, but there is so much to look forward to in 2024, including Nye, our National Theatre co-production about Aneurin Bevan, starring Michael Sheen. Here’s to another year of extraordinary experiences, incredible innovation, memorable moments and firing the imagination.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! 


We are a charity and with support and donations we can fuel the future for people in the arts in Wales.


Diolch to all who donated and to –

Trusts and Foundations:

Garfield Weston Foundation, Moondance Foundation, Simon Gibson Charitable Trust and the Arts Council of Wales


Chairs Circle - 

Dr Carol Bell
Bob + Lindsay Clark
Dame Vivien Duffield DBE
Diane Briere de l'Isle-Engelhardt OBE
Henry Engelhardt CBE
Dyfrig + Heather John
Sylvia Richards in memory of Clive Richards CBE KSG DL
Lady Rowe-Beddoe + in memory of Lord Rowe-Beddoe DL
David Stevens CBE + Heather Stevens CBE
Mr Peter + Mrs Janet Swinburn

Partner Awen





Special supporters:

Founding Patron In memory of Sir Donald Gordon

Life President In memory of The Lord Rowe-Beddoe DL


Plus these corporations and supporters.