Cardiff is home to a close-knit LGBTQ community that loves to have a good time. Here are the top seven gay bars and nightlife venues in the city.
Cardiff is home to a warm and vibrant LGBTQ community, who are inclusive regardless of race, gender, identity or sexual orientation.
The gay party scene is situated in the city centre and hosts a whole variety of crowd. Everyone is welcome at these venues, whether they be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight.
“Cardiff has a close-knit LGBTQ community and everyone looks out for each other,” says Daisy Gaunt, who works at The Kings. “I came from London, and I loved it here so much, that I actually moved to Cardiff. I preferred it so much more.”
1.The Kings, Churchill Way
The Kings is one of the busiest gay bars in the city centre. Other than catching the usual drink, one could enjoy events such as quiz nights and karaoke.
The target demographic is the younger university crowd of Cardiff, so the prices are cheap. But that doesn’t stop older customers from frequenting the bar.
“I come here because it feels like home,” says Mr. P, who’s 70 years old and likes to be described as “marinated in pinot grigio.’’
“What is special here is the ‘welcome.’ We get an overall mixture of personnel here, they all feel comfortable and have a jolly good time.”
2. Pulse, Churchill Way
Located opposite The Kings, Pulse in the daytime looks rather relaxed, serves food all day and is popular for its all-you-can-eat breakfast until 1 pm. At night, it transforms into a dance club with two dedicated dance areas.
Wednesday night is popular with students with beers as cheap as £1.50. Pulse stays open until 4 am, so people at The Kings usually join the party later in the night.
3. WOW Bar, Churchill Way
Wow Bar is famous for its drag shows every night of the week. The bar has an uplifting aura, painted bright with colours and rainbow lighting reflecting off mirrored walls.
Located at the heart of the city, it’s always buzzing and instantly catches the attention of the passerby. The drinks are cheap and are you are served by a staff with smiles.
“It’s all about the people. We are diverse staff with straight, gay, bisexual and queens in our team. We’ve got everybody covered,’’ says manager Mandie Rees, who joined the bar for a summer job five years ago and hasn’t left since. “We have the longest-serving drag queens in Cardiff, to the newest ‘baby’ queens literally taking their first steps in the drag world.”
4. Minsky’s Showbar, Cathedral Walk
As the name suggests, Minsky’s is quite the showbar of the town. With live entertainers, drag shows, festival-themed parties and strip shows on girls’ nights out, it is always a ball.
The timings are exclusive as it opens only for lunch on weekdays and only on Fridays and Saturdays does it host evenings.
5. Mary’s, St. Mary’s Street
At just over three years old, Mary’s is the youngest spot in the circuit. A bold purple palette sets the tone for the bar and dance club decorated with intriguing androgynous artwork.
The bar not only hosts karaoke and cabaret queens, but also charity nights supporting mental health and disability issues.
“There are happy hours every day, all throughout the week,’’ says Jack Grimshaw, a regular at the club. “You will not walk into a bar with a hundred glasses lying around, you can always find a nice clean table, get served in a few minutes and enjoy the music.”
6. The Golden Cross, Hayes Bridge Road
Located outside the city centre, The Golden Cross is one of the old places in town and looks like any other good ol’ pub in the hood.
You step into classic wooden interiors, windows with blue pains and slot machines. The vibe is relaxed and comfortable. The venue hosts drag and karaoke nights as well.
“I like the look and feel of the place,” says Jorge Garzon, an engineering student in Cardiff. “It is a blend of the old and the new and that’s what makes it special.’’
7. Eagle, Charles Street
Walking down a flight of stairs to enter a bar already and feels cool and gives an almost-speakeasy vibe.
With dingy blue lighting and bass-heavy music, the bar is one of the exclusive venues and entry on the weekends is strictly for members only.
“We are what is said on the till: a gay bar,” says Haydn Price, the owner of the bar, “and we have as many gay people as other bars without doing drag.”
“The whole ethos of the gay community has changed tremendously. Lifestyles have changed and people now using apps to meet partners, and the concept of going out and mingling in the bar is dying out. I think that’s quite sad…Here at Eagle, we try to keep it alive’’ he says.