Review: Castellana at the Spiegeltent, Cardiff Castle (2023)

An absolutely jaw-dropping and never before seen show has arrived at Cardiff Castle for the festive season – and this is what it was like.

Castellana is one of three shows that form part of the Cardiff Castle Christmas Festival series running until 1stJanuary 2023. Think a cross between the circus and burlesque with a cast of talented Welsh performers, with Castellana slap bang in the middle.

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The enchantment starts long before the entrainment begins as you approach the weird and wonderful Spiegeltent in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. If you’ve visited recently, it’s not hard to miss, with its rounded canopy and somewhat grand frontage that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

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The exquisiteness continues as you head inside to take your seats, it feels as special as it looks – there is a quaint oldie worldly sense to the entire place, which is breathtaking. Everyone is fully in character, and the staff are just as dressed up as the performers with a 1920s vibe.

(Video) Castellana at Cardiff Castle - Audience Review

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The tent itself is very charming with its wooden interior, cut mirrors, canvas, leaded glass, and detailed in velvet brocade. Only a handful of these special and legendary tents remain in the world and The Fortuna, owned by Dutch company Van Rosmalen, is one of the most beautiful, playing host to some of the world’s greatest performers and musicians.

What strikes you is the intimacy of it all. The seats are closely packed together and lead right up to the stage areas – so there is no hiding at Castellana from your evening’s host Ian Stroughair, aka Velma, Master of the Castle.

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The seats are only slightly tiered, but you get a good all-round viewing angle from most locations. If you do have someone taller than you seated directly in front of you, your view may be obscured. One of our only criticisms is that there are a small number of seats with an obstructed view. Luckily, the majority of the performances take place on a stage that stretches out and into the audience, but for anything that begins or ends on the stage closest to the curtain is hindered.

What is Castellana?

We don’t want to give too much away as we feel this may spoil the surprise and fascination with what it has to offer, but we will give you a taste of what to expect and you’ll have to visit if you want to judge for yourselves.

(Video) Castellana in the Spiegeltent at Cardiff Castle

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Underpinning the evening’s acts is a story set in the magical mystical Welsh world of Annwn, which is filled with intrigue and suspense. The fair maiden of Castell Annwn – Anna – is played by Vikki Bebb with her comedic lover played by Alex Phelps (CBeebies). They both play their parts extremely well and I’m little embarrassed to admit it, but I did for a second think “Anna” was part of the audience. However, as soon as she warmed up her vocals, we recognised her from Tiger Bay the Musical, Wales Millennium Centre – a sensational vocal artist.

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What can we say about the host of the evening, Ian Stroughair. The West End superstar is exactly what we needed, arriving and bursting out on stage the hit song “Let Me Entertain You” to get the crowd going . The alter ego Velma Celli, playing Master of the Castle and Owl Master, kept things spicy with quick wit and lustrous charm. It was quite clear who was running the show on the night – and Velma did a great job of managing hecklers.

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Angie Sylvia – famed worldwide for her Fire Fox performance and fire eating, certainly kept things hot and pulses racing. She returns to the stage later in the evening for a very intriguing and entertaining bubble set. We have no idea how she does it, but it’s very entertaining to say the least.

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Fancy Chance, aka Veronica Thompson is arguably one of the show’s most multi-talented performers. Fancy takes her chances to showcase her hair hanging talent – one of few performers in the world actively doing so outside of a three-ring circus. Later in the show, watch out for her return as she shows off even more talents and personality with her Prince rendition.

(Video) The Cardiff Castle Christmas Festival

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Brett Rosengreen – known as the rippling (and naked) cowboy came riding out on stage with his sexy burlesque performance, much to the enjoyment of the audience. He is known to show off the funny side of burlesque with his tongue in cheek performance, poking a little fun at himself and others that leaves women and men alike entertained.

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Didi Derriere, known to be one of the UK’s best and hottest burlesque dancers, stole the show with her iconic Madonna tribute.Bringing a sense of class and sass, the professionally trained Didi returns later on in the evening sporting her famed Marilyn Monroe look to “Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend”. Again, an act that the crowd goes wild for.

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Florian Brooks, aka the Gentleman Juggler brings really something different, something which we’ve not witnessed before. Others have certainly tried to pull it off, but Florian is at another level. Florian has perfected the act of dance and tricks with pin-sharp movement. The sheer elegance of the man combined with his incredible talents will leave you wondering how he does it.

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Yann LeBlance and Sophie Northmore team up for the most mesmerising hand-to-hand performance display. Working together, Yann and Sophie combine their many years of circus and acrobatic experience to create a show-stopping act. There are oohs and aahs from the audience as Yann spins and flips Sophie in what looks like pure weightlessness. They move as one to create an elegant and perfectly crafted swing and balancing act.

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They return later in the show, individually, to bring their own acts featuring Yann – the man in the hoop. Yann very courageously spins the hoop while inside it and does a number of tricks and spins, leaving the audience gasping as he does it.

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Sophie returns with this spectacular spinning ball display. The combination of lighting and single hand-balancing talent is really something. Watch out the ball rotates and Sophie maintains absolute balance before moving into her next position.

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Joe Keeley brings a death-defying aerial display to Cardiff with his Flying Man performance. I can’t even imagine the amount of skill and sheer strength that this must take, but prepare to be spellbound as Joe takes to new heights to show off his incredible talent. Joe’s act leaves you in awe of his achievements as he twists and unwraps himself from the top of the Spiegeltent. Well done Joe, I’d rather you than me with those heights!

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So this Christmas, if you are looking for a show that is different and unique then, Castellana will fit the bill with good fun entertainment. You will be left on the edge of your seat, for lots of reasons, with its eye-peeling acts of outrageousness and unbelievable talent. You won’t know where to look in this truly captivating act of entertainment.

The Cardiff Castle Christmas Festival is a wonderful addition to Cardiff’s existing Christmas programme, which includes Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland, Christmas at Bute Park and Cardiff’s Christmas Market. It is created and produced by Richard Perry and John Manders, joint directors of Live under The Stars, whose most recent credits include the recent Cardiff Castle Jubilee Celebration Concert, and the Live Under the Stars Concert series.

Castellana is recommended over 16s, although we feel this better caters for adults due to the naughtiness and bare cheek of some of the acts 😉

To find out more and to book tickets, visit:


Is it worth visiting Cardiff Castle? ›

WHY IS CARDIFF CASTLE WORTH A VISIT? A ticket to Cardiff Castle is a gateway to almost 2000 years of history, from Roman times through to the second world war. Surrounded by beautiful parklands on one side and a modern metropolis on the other, Cardiff Castle truly is the city's historic heart.

How long is Castellana on for? ›

Enter the risqué otherworld of Castellana in the intimate setting of the Fortuna Spiegeltent – a show you will never forget! A brand-new show, Castellana has its World Premiere on 2 December 2022 and runs until 31st December.

How long is Castellana Cardiff? ›

Castellana runs at Cardiff Castle Christmas Festival until 1 January 2023.

How long does it take to go around Cardiff Castle? ›

How long does it take to go around Cardiff Castle? We recommend that you should allow around an hour and a half for a typical visit to the Castle, giving time to see all the visitor attractions included with your ticket.

What is the nicest part of Cardiff? ›

Central areas of Cardiff
  • Roath. Just northeast of the city centre lies Roath, a picturesque and vibrant multicultural community. ...
  • Pontcanna. Pontcanna is a lush neighbourhood with highly sought-after amenities. ...
  • Cardiff Bay. Cardiff Bay, fondly known as The Bay, is a foodie's dream. ...
  • Lisvane. ...
  • Penylan. ...
  • Llandaff.

What is special about Cardiff Castle? ›

Cardiff Castle is one of Wales' leading heritage attractions and a site of international significance. Located within beautiful parklands at the heart of the capital's city centre, Cardiff Castle's Romanesque walls and fairytale towers conceal 2,000 years of history.

What is Castellana? ›

Lady of the manor {noun} castellana.

Is Bute Park free? ›

There is NO fee for entry to the park.

How many days should I spend in Cardiff? ›

2 days in Cardiff is enough time to see the main sights and get a feel for what the welcoming city has to offer. There's so much to see in Cardiff. From learning about its history to seeing the mix of old and new architecture side by side.

How many days is inside out Cardiff? ›

However unfortunately there is some bad news to go with it, the festival will only be 1 day in 2022.

How long is Cardiff Winter Wonderland? ›

From 15 November 2022 until 8 January 2023, you can join us for the ultimate winter experience split across two prestigious locations.

Is Cardiff a walkable city? ›

Large parts of the city centre are pedestrianised, so it's easy to get around on foot. This is also true for the scenic waterfront area of Cardiff Bay, which is within easy walking distance from Cardiff City Centre. Why not explore one of Cardiff's traffic-free footpaths?

How far apart are London and Cardiff? ›

Cardiff is located 151 miles (243 kilometers) west of London, but good road and rail connections make it very easy to visit via bus, car, or train.

Can cars drive past Cardiff Castle? ›

General traffic will be permitted in both directions and the bi-directional cycleway will remain. To do this, there will be a short period of enabling works. The enabling works will begin early September 2021 and Castle Street should be fully re-open by the end of October 2021.

Is Cardiff expensive? ›

Cardiff has been named the most affordable of all the UK's university cities. Cardiff came first in the 2022 NatWest Student Living Index which accounts for factors such as how much students spend on going out to income through part-time work.

Is Cardiff affluent? ›

A new prosperity index has listed Cardiff as the 7th most affluent city in the UK. The index, produced by Barclays bank, has taken into account a number of factors including household wealth, exam results and charitable donations.

Is Cardiff scenic? ›

If you'd like to enjoy the Welsh countryside and fresh air, then Cardiff and its surrounding area are well worth a visit. From Margam Country Park to the Machen Forge Trail, here are some of the most scenic walks to take in and around the Welsh capital.

What are 2 facts about Cardiff Castle? ›

Cardiff Castle is located in the Castle Quarter, in the heart of Cardiff, the capital of Wales. There has been a fort on the site for almost 2000 years. The first Roman fort at Cardiff was probably established at the end of the 50s AD, on a strategic site that afforded easy access to the sea.

What is the most visited castle in Wales? ›

Caernarfon Castle (or Carnarvon Castle as you might see it written) in North West Wales is the most popular castle in Wales with over 310,000 visitors a year! Edward I created one of Wales' most impressive castles, with its intimidating towers and stunning setting on the banks of the River Seiont.

Why is Cardiff Castle closed? ›

Mon 9 January 2023 – Sun 22 January 2023

This short closure will allow for the dismantling of the festive attractions currently occupying the Castle grounds, as well as an opportunity to carry out some essential maintenance works, without any disruption to our visitors.

What is La Castellana known for? ›

La Castellana is a rural town at the base of Kanlaon Volcano, known for its natural springs, water falls and scenic spots. It is an agricultural town engaged in sugarcane, rice and banana farming.

What origin is Castellana? ›

Castellana Name Meaning

Italian (southern mainly Sicily): habitational name from a place called Castellana notably the one in Sicily or feminine form of Castellano . Catalan: habitational name from any of the places called La Castellana especially in Girona province Catalonia (Spain).

How long does it take to walk around Bute Park Lights? ›

HOW LONG IS THE TRAIL? The trail is 1.4KM in length and will take approximately 60 minutes to walk around.

How long is the Bute Park walk? ›

The trail is a 1.4Km route taking in delicious, locally produced street food and drink stalls.

What time does the Christmas lights turn on in Cardiff? ›


If you're looking for an early dose of seasonal spirit then make sure you visit Cardiff on Tuesday 15 November when the lights will be switched on for the first time, Winter Wonderland opens its doors, plus the Christmas Market and Festive Quarter will already be underway.

Can you speak English in Cardiff? ›

The Cardiff accent, also known as Cardiff English, is the regional accent of English, and a variety of Welsh English, as spoken in and around the city of Cardiff, and is somewhat distinctive in Wales, compared with other Welsh accents.

What is the best month to visit Wales? ›

Main and shoulder seasons in Wales

For a chance of reasonably good weather with fewer crowds go in April, May, September or October. When it comes to outdoor activities such as walking in Wales, June to October are usually the warmest and driest for walking and climbing.

Do people speak English in Cardiff? ›

The highest proportions of people who did not select English or Welsh as a main language and who reported being able to speak English well or very well were in Cardiff (6.9%), Newport (5.0%), Wrexham (3.8%) and Swansea (3.7%). These were also the local authorities with the highest proportions in 2011.

Does Cardiff Castle have toilets? ›

Toilets. Toilets for disabled visitors are located in the Visitor Centre, on the first floor, and are accessible by both lift and stairs.

How many people does Cardiff Castle hold for a concert? ›

The castle has seen various musical performances, including by Tom Jones, Green Day and the Stereophonics, with a capacity to accommodate over 10,000 people.

How many days is Ed Sheeran in Cardiff for? ›

The world famous artist will perform at the Principality Stadium for three nights on Thursday 26 May, Friday 27 May and Saturday 28 May, 2022.

Can you stay at Winter Wonderland all day? ›

You will need to enter Hyde Park Winter Wonderland during your entrance ticket time slot, but after that you are welcome to stay and enjoy the festive fun for as long as you like until we close at 10pm. Was this article helpful?

What food stalls at Cardiff Winter Wonderland? ›

The Cardiff Castle location is home to the ice rink, ice walk, and food stalls including Sizzling Sausage, the Roast House, the Grill House, and the toasted marshmallows. At City Hall Lawns you'll find all the rides and games, with plenty of food too, and the Sur La Piste bar and Ice Bar.

How cold is it in Winter Wonderland? ›

The Magical Ice Kingdom and Bar Ice are kept very cold with the temperature set at -10°c.

What is the best way to get around in Cardiff? ›

Getting around Cardiff
  1. Public transport. Cardiff Bus, (tel: +44 29 2066 6444; owned by Cardiff council, is the main provider of services in and around the city. ...
  2. Taxis. You can hail black and white taxis on the street in the city centre. ...
  3. Driving. ...
  4. Car hire. ...
  5. Bicycle hire.

Is Cardiff flat or hilly? ›

The centre of Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is relatively flat and is bounded by hills on the outskirts to the east, north and west. Its geographic features were influential in its development as the world's largest coal port, most notably its proximity and easy access to the coal fields of the south Wales valleys.

Are people friendly in Cardiff? ›

Perhaps, the best thing about Cardiff is the population. Small enough to get to know people, big enough to find your niche, and friendly enough to settle right in. Cardiff was voted the 3rd friendliest city in the UK in 2021 by a Condé Nast survey, and the only surprise is that it was beaten to first place.

Is Cardiff worth a day trip from London? ›

Whether you live in London and want to explore a city that is slower paced but steeped in history and on the water, or you're a visitor to London and want to experience another capital city in the UK, Cardiff is worth the day trip from London, just make sure you start your day early to get a full day!

How long is a train journey from Cardiff to London? ›

Journeys between London and Cardiff take around 1 hour 50 minutes, but can be longer on public holidays, and at weekends. Our fastest service takes 1 hour 48 minutes.

Is Cardiff cheaper than London? ›

Cost of living in Cardiff (United Kingdom) is 42% cheaper than in London (United Kingdom)

Is it hard to drive in Cardiff? ›

Driving in Wales is very easy. It can get a little complicated in Cardiff city centre with funny junctions, but nothing to worry about.

Is driving in Cardiff easy? ›

Cardiff, Wales's capital, just misses out on a spot in the top 10 easiest areas to pass your driving test, with a pass rate of 57.42%, which puts it in 12th. The lowest pass rate in Wales belongs to Wrexham, where 48% of the tests taken since April 2020 have been passed.

Is there a charge to drive Cardiff? ›

Drivers would face a daily congestion charge of £2 to enter Cardiff under proposals put forward by the city council today. The charge, for non Cardiff residents, would be used to fund the city's £2bn plans to improve public transport.

Which Welsh Castle should I visit? ›

Conwy Castle

Some consider it the finest castle Edward I built, and the mesmerising views from the battlements are particularly famed within the walled town. Great halls, private chapels and royal chambers wind through this medieval marvel.

Do you have to pay to go into Cardiff Castle grounds? ›

An welcoming space in the beautiful setting of the Castle's outer green, open for all to enjoy free of charge.

How long should you spend in Cardiff? ›

2 days in Cardiff is enough time to see the main sights and get a feel for what the welcoming city has to offer. There's so much to see in Cardiff. From learning about its history to seeing the mix of old and new architecture side by side.

What is the best preserved castle in Wales? ›

Conwy Castle, North Wales

This remarkable fortress was built in an astonishing four-year period, between 1283 and 1287, and remains incredibly well-preserved today: it contains the most intact set of medieval royal apartments in Wales.

How long is the train journey from London to Cardiff? ›

How long is the journey by train from London to Cardiff? Journeys between London and Cardiff take around 1 hour 50 minutes, but can be longer on public holidays, and at weekends. Our fastest service takes 1 hour 48 minutes.

How long is the distance from Cardiff to London? ›

The shortest distance (air line) between Cardiff and London is 131.39 mi (211.46 km). The shortest route between Cardiff and London is 152.24 mi (245.01 km) according to the route planner. The driving time is approx. 3h 5min.

Can you take food into Cardiff Castle? ›


Members of the public are welcome to bring their own food and drink in to the Public Square but cannot consume it in the cafe seating area.

Does Cardiff Castle concerts have seating? ›

Seating or Standing? Most concerts taking place at Cardiff Castle are standing room only, dedicated seating is not provided. Note that standing tickets are also commonly described as General Admission.

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