Nowhere typifies this more than Chapter Arts Centre. Want to try your hand at stand up comedy? Ask at the fortnightly amateur comedy show. Fancy playing obscure board games with strangers? Pop round on a Sunday afternoon. Always dreamt of seeing your work on the big screen? There’s a monthly showcase of local filmmakers.
Chapter can be relied on to pick up the documentaries, independent films and world cinema the multiplexes miss. They also run regular retrospectives which, in recent months, have included French New Wave and the Muppets. Chapter has a real sense of community – the canteen area is always busy with writers making the most of the free Wi-Fi and musicians taking in the wide range of ales. Even the jewellery and art in the shop is by local talent.
The Junket Club brings comedy rarely performed outside the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to Cardiff, and each event takes place in a unique venue to fit in with the headline act. For example, The Junket Club has already put on Lloyd Woolf in the National Museum of Wales, Nick Helm in a yurt and Josie Long in a planetarium. The care poured into each show means the hand crafted tickets for each show sell out in hours.
Shopping in the UK is an increasingly generic experience, yet hidden in Cardiff’s shopping arcades are unique restaurants, cafes and stores with staff passionate about what they do. One obvious example is Spillers Records, the oldest record shop in the world. The staff are so helpful and knowledgeable, that just by telling them what you’ll like, they’ll find your new favourite album. However, it’s more than just a place to buy records; it’s also a local institution with fiercely proud patrons. An unwritten rule in Cardiff is that everyone must own at least one Spillers t-shirt, though wearing one while in the city is considered something of a faux pas.
Live music is also well catered for by a handful of venues in the City centre. Every October, they are taken over by Swn Festival, which puts on hundreds of bands in less than a dozen venues over a weekend. Now in its fourth year, it’s building a reputation of bringing bands to Cardiff just before they make it big. Previous line-ups have included Beirut, Perfume Genius and Yeasayer.
In terms of television, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Merlin, Being Human and Torchwood all call Cardiff home. As since Cardiff is so small, you’ll find yourself habitually running in to actors, and film crews can regularly be spotted around town. During his time as The Doctor, Christopher Eccleston was a regular Spillers customer and current Doctor Watson, Martin Freeman, could be found between shoots having a cup of tea in Chapter. Sadly for blokes though, sightings of Karen Gillan are rare.