The City of the Unexpected: Cardiff celebrates Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was born 100 years ago this September in Wales’ capital city, Cardiff.
His books, including household titles such as The BFG, Matilda, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide, and his extraordinary imagination has inspired readers young and old for generations. To mark his centenary and to pay tribute to his legacy, organisations in Cardiff staged a city-wide celebration of the man, his characters and stories.
The creative team behind Cardiff’s biggest ever public arts event were National Theatre Wales, famed for its large-scale site-specific productions, and Wales’ premiere arts centre, the Wales Millennium Centre. The companies worked with director Nigel Jamieson, who famously masterminded the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Together, they brought Dahl’s imagined worlds to vivid life on the streets and public spaces of Cardiff.
A weekend to remember
Over the weekend of 17 & 18 September 2016, Cardiff became a place where reality was turned on its head, and where the laws of physics, logic and the predictable gave way to magic, fun, invention and the surreal. The epic event featured jaw-dropping spectacles, involving a cast of thousands of professional and non-professional performers from across Wales.
From a two-storey-high giant peach and Fantastic Mr Fox teetering above the crowds on a tightrope, to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-inspired outdoor projections, audiences could immerse themselves in the world of Roald Dahl’s stories through large-scale events and intimate performances all over the city, all for free.
One of Cardiff’s many public parks was transformed to play host to a huge pyjama picnic and pillow fight, with giants on stilts roaming the crowds, and in quieter corners of the city audiences gathered to hear readings of Dahl’s work. The event was a massive success, attracting crowds of over 35,000 people, who flocked to Wales’ capital from all over the country. Audiences embraced the carnival atmosphere, many of them coming dressed as their favourite character from Roald Dahl’s books.