Snowdonia’s landscape has long been a draw for adrenaline junkies, outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. But it’s also inspired artists, musicians, playwrights and sculptors, and so the region has spawned numerous galleries, theatres and community arts initiatives that together attract huge numbers of visitors every year.
The landscape of Snowdonia has long inspired the works of artists and craftspeople, and it’s easy to see why; the colours, the textures, the shapes and the layers of contrasting yet complementary elements are an artist’s dream.
Snowdonia has also produced many well-known stage and screen artists, from rock and pop stars to opera giants; composers to playwrights; actors to directors. The Arts are in our blood, here in Snowdonia, and that’s why you’ll find so many wonderful theatres and galleries throughout the region.
Whether your interest in the Arts is from a viewer’s or practitioner’s perspective, you’re sure to find a gallery or theatre in Snowdonia that you’ll fall head over heels in love with. Here are ten of our favourites.
1. Theatr Harlech
Theatr Harlech backs onto the dunes at Harlech beach, where occasionally the theatre holds events (recent sandcastle building workshops, for example). There’s always an eclectic mix going on at Theatr Harlech; world cinema, Bollywood dance workshops, local artists and photographers, hip-hop lessons, live music, stand up comedy and much more. Theatr Harlech is a wonderful little venue that truly has something for absolutely everyone – and the location is fabulous, too.
2. Galeri Caernarfon
Galeri Caernarfon, overlooking Doc Fictoria in the heart of Caernarfon, is another of those fantastic venues that caters to all sorts of tastes. It’s also an important figure in the local community, providing a showcase for the creative skills of local schools and colleges. Like Theatr Harlech, at Galeri Caernarfon you’ll find a bit of everything; art, film, dance, music – with the added bonus of a great little coffee bar overlooking Caernarfon Marina.
3. Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery
Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery, in Bangor, lives in an unassuming little building close to Bangor Cathedral. Inside, there are several storeys of exhibits, including a packed programme of exhibitions by local and international artists. There’s also a great little shop where you can buy hand made ceramics, jewellery, prints and more.
4. Oriel Plas Glyn-Y-Weddw
Just outside Pwllheli is Oriel Plas Glyn-Y-Weddw, an art gallery housed within a beautiful Victorian gothic mansion which is worth a visit for the architecture alone. An impressive roster of local and international artists are exhibited at the gallery throughout the year, and there are plenty of local crafts to take home with you from the gallery shop, including slate, textiles, pottery, woodwork and jewellery.
5. Neuadd Buddug
Neuadd Buddug in Bala is a cinema and theatre, showing everything from Welsh-language plays to international blockbuster movies. The Saturday matinee shows are ideal for younger visitors; forthcoming screenings include Marmaduke, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and The Last Airbender.
6. Theatr Y Ddraig
Housed in a converted chapel, Barmouth‘s Theatr Y Ddraig – The Dragon Theatre – is another of those wonderful venues at the very heart of the local community. The theatre is host to all sorts of events including touring productions, exhibitions, workshops and movie screenings; about a hundred events are staged here every year.
7. Neuadd Dwyfor
The old Victorian town hall in Pwllheli is now known as Neuadd Dwyfor, a vibrant contemporary arts centre playing host to a packed schedule of events including ballet, opera, cinema, plays, pantomimes and concerts. The building is also home to the Pwllheli library.
8. Royal Cambrian Academy of Art
The Royal Cambrian Academy of Art in Conwy is an independently run institution, headed by distinguished artists, whose mission is to promote art creation, appreciation and enjoyment. As well as nine temporary exhibitions every year, the Academy provides an excellent range of classes to help artists of all ages and experience levels to improve their techniques.
9. Canolfan Cywain
Canolfan Cywain in Bala is a rather unusual attraction in that it combines art appreciation with education about agricultural skills and techniques. Exhibitions and events take place both indoors and outdoors, and include concerts, workshops, art exhibitions and country fairs; a real mixed bag with appeal for everyone.
10. Oriel Y Gader
Oriel Y Gader is a privately owned gallery in Dolgellau, and is run by local artist Meinir Moncrieffe and her husband Laurence. There are exhibitions at the gallery throughout the year, but in an interesting twist, Oriel Y Gader also arranges temporary exhibitions in empty commercial buildings, helping local landlords to showcase their properties to prospective tenants.