The Wales Millennium Centre is one of the only places in the vicinity where you can see drama, opera, ballet, etc. Although there are a few other theatres and halls around Cardiff that offer these types of shows, none of them really give the same impression of professionalism, and a general nice night out.
The building itself is a lovely piece of architecture in Cardiff Bay, right next to the waterfront. The only thing is, the wood cladding at the back does make it look half-built, but most visitors will only see the front - which is impressive and iconic.
Booking fees are cheapest if you book online, though you have to book at the venue for student concessions as you have to provide a student ID. Tickets usually appear promptly through second class post, though you can also elect to go and collect them. You can pick the exact seats you wish to have, according to availability. If booking online, I would advise that you keep your eyes peeled for donations to the Welsh Millennium Centre which are often automatically added to your shopping basket and you have to manually remove if you do not wish to pay them.
The general expense of tickets is not bad compared to a lot of theatres, but is still fairly pricey. Prices for less in demand productions, such as opera, are less expensive however, and there are membership schemes available to people who go there a lot and would like to see the full benefit of their cash.
As the home of the Welsh National Opera, the opera seasons are to a high quality and magnificent. There are also several on-tour shows which are available at various times, obviously this is dependant on what they have when you'd like to go, but - to give you an idea of what sort of thing they have on - past musicals have included Mary Poppins, Cats, American Idiot, War Horse, and Phantom of the Opera. There is often a chance to see the BBC orchestra of wales, as well as 'arty' plays, ballet, the odd bit of Shakespeare, and shows designed specifically for small children.
The facilities are excellent with plenty of loos (though you do have to find them!) a bar, café, restaurant, and gift shop. The chairs in the main theatre aren't the most comfortable I've sat on, and you get the same type of chair no matter what seats you pay for, but they're not the worst in the world either (particularly if you have a stretch in the intervals.)
Perfect for an enjoyable night out, but watch the price!
The Millenium Centre on Cardiff bay waterfront was officially opened in November 2004, by Bryn Terfel. The building is inspired by Wales and built using Welsh materials and is truly magnificant both inside and out, this is probably reflected in the amount spent on the project with the final cost of building being £106.2m!
The outside of the building is clad in various shades of grey/mauve slate collected from Welsh quarries it is built in layers of slate to give the impression of rock strata to depict the different stone layers of the sea cliffs that surround the coast.
The roof is made from a huge dome and is made from steel, this represents the fact that the steel industry used to be a major employer in Wales, the dome has been treated with copper oxide which gives it a beautiful deep bronze colour which should weather with age (It has been described has looking like a giant armadillo by some!)
On the front of the dome there is a two line bilingual poem written by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis. The Welsh version is "Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen" which means "Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration". The English is "In These Stones Horizons Sing" Each letter of the poem is six feet tall and is actually a window in the upstairs bar areas of the theatre which looks out over the bay, and looks especially spectacular when illuminated at night.
Inside you will find cafes, bars and a gift shop. I believe that guided tours are available and there are regular free performances to enjoy in the foyer. The theme of natural materials and colours used outside continue throughout the interior of the building, and it is almost impossible not to run your hands over the wood and intererior fittings.
The wales Millenium centre is now established as a Welsh landmark and is proving to be one of the most visited places in Wales. Of course the Wales Millenium centre is not just a building but a place to see the best in international musicals, opera, ballet and dance.
Dr Who and Torchwood fans may also have spotted this magnificant building a number of times in various episodes, and in fact opposite the centre is the mirrored water tower which marks the location of the entrance to Torchwood's underworld. (a fantastic photo opportunity!) More recently it has featured in the popular Gavin and Stacey series.
If you ever find yourself in Cardiff, make your way to Cardiff bay. It used to be known as Tiger bay, home to Shirley Bassey, and was once one of the biggest coal ports in the world. There is plenty to do and see to fill a day, as it has now been transformed into a modern shopping centre, it has many good water front restaurants, the Senned (Welsh assembly Government building) and of course the Wales Millenium Centre to visit. Diolch.