Review: Pride Cymru, Cardiff Castle

Thomas and Rachel Howells join in with a celebration of all things LGBTQ+ in the heart of the Welsh Capital.

Saturday, June 17th, 2023, saw the colourful and vibrant celebration of LGBTQ+, Pride Cymru event in Cardiff City Centre. 

Pride Cymru is a non-profit organization that works to promote equality and acceptance for LGBTQ+ people in Wales and consists of a parade, as well as a market area and 2 days of concerts.

A powerful statement of LGBTQ+ visibility and acceptance, Saturday’s parade was both festive and joyful with a large and enthusiastic crowd. The parade was enhanced by the floats, marching bands, dancers, and other participants from all over Wales.

Saturday’s Pride Cymru parade was “both festive and joyful with a large and enthusiastic crowd” Photo: Thomas Howells

It was great seeing support for the queer community from political parties – Plaid, Labour, Greens and the Socialists to shops and organisations such as Co-op Dogs Trust, Amgueddfa Cymru and countless more getting involved.  Each organisation had many creative ways to give out a wide variety of freebies and that made almost every stall a must visit.  It was also great seeing Pride logos from these organisations using some creativity to make some beautiful logos which displayed real and genuine support.

Thomas meets Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford (complete with tie!) at Pride Cymru.

One of the highlights for me, Tom, was to meet Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, who for this very special occasion was wearing a tie!

Though we missed a lot of the main stage, everything I saw of it was clearly incredibly captivating. I would say every performer genuinely captured the audience and gave it their all and the sign-language interpreter was having a great time! I only would have liked to see the SL interpreter in more prideful outfits to blend it with the activities all around them. 

Drag queen story time, “Squelch like a drag queen” was hilarious and engaging for kids and parents. The drag queen in residence was really giving it her all and genuinely came off extremely lovely. One thing I liked was how she had the children high fiving their parents for fun. It is an experience I’m sure they will all remember and cherish forever!

One issue I found, especially on the Saturday, was going from the main entrance to the market and youth area. To get there you needed to pass the main stage which was obviously incredibly loud, and this made the journey difficult for people, especially the young people, that have sensory issues which meant that they had to deal with a lot of overstimulation when passing. I feel like this was quite a major oversight considering just how many queer people find themselves with those issues – this may have even motivated a lot of queer people with those issues to not attend.

Bass 12 take to the stage of Pride Cymru Photo: Rachel Howells

On Sunday, there was great teamwork showed when a weather warning temporarily stopped all performances. The management team worked well to clear all the dangerous areas and regularly kept everyone updated during the pause.  I loved the fact that there was a group of people that tried to keep the energy high by singing, showing a real sense of community in the festival.

Dr Bev was the act to announce that the main stage was continuing and entertained the crowd with a rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You.  Next on, Black Pepper also wowed with her enchanting dancing.  One of the highlights of the Sunday afternoon session were Bass 12 who encouraged the whole audience to get involved in their set. Their energy and enthusiasm got the whole audience singing along and I was a little disappointed that they had such a short set.

Finally, because we arrived later Sunday afternoon, the majority of stalls in the marketplace, especially the information stalls had already closed. I’m sure a lot of people arriving later and seeking advice would have been a little disappointed by this.

Overall, we thought the event was done well, but the layout in Cardiff Castle and surrounding areas was a little awkward and before the storm warning on Sunday it did feel like there could have been two different festivals happening next to each other.  

Tickets are available now for Pride Cymru 2024

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