Gareth Coombes, Tour Manager, talks about the joys and challenges of organising a Family Fun Weekend at the Senedd, home of the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay.
When you think about the Senedd, the first thing that comes to mind is Plenary, the meeting where the 60 Assembly Members make Welsh laws, debate Welsh issues, question the First Minister and the make sure the Welsh Government is doing its job. The second thing you think about is usually the handsome tour guide who works there, but maybe you wouldn’t imagine that the Senedd could be also be turned into a giant play area for children and young people.
Well that’s exactly what happened last weekend! To celebrate the Cardiff Bay Harbour Festival and as a continuation of the Senedd’s 10th birthday celebrations this year, we hosted a Fun Weekend for all the family. Activities included soft play, Lego station, skittles, face painting and a craft area.
The day before I was really nervous, thinking that no one was going to turn up and it would just be me playing Lego all day by myself! I kept busy by setting up all the activities, making sure all the toys were in the right place, the face painters had a table and that the Welsh cakes were tasty enough (I took this job very seriously and tasted many, many Welsh cakes just to make sure) and that everything else was just right. The night before, when nearly everyone had left, I just walked around what we had created in the building, feeling excited about the days to come.
The weekend started quietly, with the weather being its usual miserable self. But as soon as the sun came out, I knew the Bay would get busier, which of course it did!
One of the most popular activities over the weekend (and for good reason) was the ball pit in the middle of the room. Our job was to make sure that all the balls were kept in and around the ball pit, not an easy job I’ll add! On the last day I was tidying up the ball pit, putting two or three balls back at a time, when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a young boy running as fast as he could towards the soft play from the other end of the room. At this point everything went into slow motion. The boy was nearing, there was nothing I could do, and before I could react, he jumped, as high as he could, and landed like an Olympic long-jumper in the middle of the ball pit. Again in slow motion I saw about 50 balls catapult out of the pit into every conceivable direction on the Welsh slate floor, and knowing I had lost the battle, I put my head down, rested on the soft play and laughed!
#SeneddSelfie was used on Twitter and Instagram throughout the weekend so that our guests could share their experiences with us. Some great pictures were taken, and it was so nice to see lots of smiles in them. Many people clambered into the giant deck chair outside the Senedd, and there were some fantastic photos of children with their faces painted, with lions and butterflies galore!
Overall the weekend was a huge success with over 3,500 people visiting the building! From what I could tell, everyone thoroughly enjoyed as much as I did.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along – see you again next year!
The Senedd is the home of National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay. Open to the public seven days a week, its distinctive design and incredible architecture attract visitors from all over the world, and in 2015 the building was awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.
Free tours are available daily, and a selection of drinks and refreshments are available to purchase from the Oriel Café.
You could also find out who your Assembly Members are and how they represent your interests in the Senedd. If you visit during the week you could even watch the political action unfold as it happens in the public gallery of the Siambr, the Senedd’s debating chamber.
If you’d like to book a tour (unfortunately we can’t promise that it will be with Gareth) please call us on 0300 200 6565, email firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into the Senedd for more details.
The Senedd is open:
Weekdays – term time
Monday and Friday 9:30 – 16:30, Tuesday to Thursday 8:00 – end of business
Weekdays – recess
Monday to Friday 9:30 – 16:30
Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays (all year) 10:30 – 16:30
(Please note that last admission is 30 minutes before closing).