Caerphilly

If you’re in Caerphilly in the summer, then The Big Cheese festival (yes, it’s to celebrate Caerphilly cheese!) is not one to be missed. Don’t worry though, it’s not just a big cheese fest! There’s street entertainment, funfairs and historical re-enactments for the whole family to enjoy, so even if you don’t like cheese, you could still go. In winter, Caerphilly hosts the Festival of Light, which sees hundreds of lanterns being paraded through the streets, creating quite a beautiful scene.

Not in town for either festival? There’s still plenty to see and do! Caerphilly Castle is the second largest in the UK after Windsor Castle, and has been the setting for Doctor Who and Merlin episodes. It’s surrounded by water, as a means of protection in the medieval times in which it was built. The castle is right in the middle of Caerphilly town, so you can’t miss it and not many tourists visit the county without seeing it.

As well as a stroll around the castle grounds, there are plenty of other walking and relaxing options in Caerphilly. Several parks including Parc Cwm Darran and Pen Y Fan Pond Country Park both offer casual walks through nature and views of the lake. Pen Y Fan is a perfect family summertime park with plenty of space to play ball games, fly kites and just laze by the water, whereas Parc Cwm Darran gives you a choice between a lakeside wander or a woodland walk. One place which surely cannot be passed up is Hapus Real Dairy Ice Cream Parlour on the farm in Machen. It’s a family-run parlour in a picturesque setting, selling delicious ice cream, sundaes and cakes (yum yum!). If all that ice cream has sent your kids a bit mental, there’s also a play area on site, where they can run off all that energy while you just sit and enjoy a tea or coffee and take in the surroundings.

So you’ve sat in beautiful countryside and ate lots. How about a bit of physical activity to stop you feeling like a lazy slob? There are various golf clubs around the county, as well as Rockwood Riding Centre, which offers pony trekking through 250 acres of private land, as well as horse riding lessons in an indoor arena. For the daredevils amongst you who want to try something completely brand new, you’ll need to check out Battlefield Live. It’s a new combat game with infra-red weapons, which is apparently (and hopefully!) completely safe. It’s a little like paintball but no paint, just infra-red guns, so you can emulate your favourite video games. Think CoD but in real life (well, not quite). They offer packages for team-building groups and stags/hens though, so it would probably be a lot of fun, if you’ve got a group of you. Afterwards, you can always relax in the Captiva Spa and Lounge, which offers various luxury treatments. It draws on the rhythms of Captiva Island in the south of Florida, so you can just while away the hours in a tropical daze, feeling the soft breeze on your skin and the gentle sounds of paradise… seems like you really could be there and not a spa in Wales!

When you’ve awoken from a heavenly slumber, there’s a whole world of shops to explore. Blackwood is the heart of Caerphilly shopping and as well as housing all the biggest high street shops, it also has a regular outdoor market, where you’re sure to pick up a few interesting bargains. Castle Court Shopping Centre is best for everyday shopping, as it’s got a few of the big supermarkets to choose from and some of the best places for local produce. If you’re looking for some unique, never-will-see-again buys, then The Welsh Craft Shop in Caerphilly town is ideal. It’s quirky, creative and you’ll find things here that don’t exist anywhere else. Once in a lifetime souvenir shopping!

After you’ve recovered from a busy shopping day, it’s time to get your glitzy gear on and head into town for the night. There are so many pubs and inns to choose from, each offering something a little different. From historic pubs, cosy friendly inns and karaoke nights –Piccadilly Inn is the best known for this frankly awful but hilarious form of entertainment – you’ll definitely find yourself having a good night in Caerphilly. It isn’t the best for clubbing with Pulsar being the only nightclub but it’s less than ten miles from Cardiff, so it’s not like it really needs to amp up its party scene.

Whatever your wants or needs, Caerphilly has something for you. Its rural spaces are packed full of fun stuff to get involved in and the urban parts are packed with things to keep you busy. It’s easy enough to hop on a bus to the city if you really get bored, although with a lot to cover, it’s doubtful that you will.

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