Visitors enjoying Wales’ flagship Christmas lights trail were treated to the ‘ulti-mutt’ festive experience when a group of ‘Santa’s little yelpers’ stopped by to wish them a ‘Happy Howl-iday’ after this year’s event opened to the public.
Christmas at Bute Park 2023 really is turning out to be a ‘hairy and bright’ one after the volunteer pooches and their owners stopped by to raise vital awareness of their work with Guide Dogs Cymru, wearing festively lit collars and with their own troop of helpers in tow.
As one of more than 40 charities that Christmas at Bute Park is set to support during the course of its latest run, its supporters spread some ‘paws-itively festive cheer’ for all concerned, whilst also raising some much-needed funds and awareness of the cause at the same time.
Ruth Evans, Community Fundraising Relationship Manager at Guide Dogs Cymru, said: “It was a really beautiful thing to see so many visitors to this year’s Christmas at Bute Park give our volunteer dogs such a warm welcome, in such wonderfully festive surroundings. We are indebted to the general public for all the good will they show us on a year-round basis, and it’s so lovely to have the opportunity to bring about a nice bit of festive cheer on their behalf in return.”
Volunteers play a key role at Guide Dogs Cymru, providing temporary homes for dogs in training and helping to turn tiny puppies into the guide dogs of the future. It’s great fun, and a cost-effective way to enjoy canine company, as the dog’s food, vet bills and equipment are all paid for by the charity.
Christmas at Bute Park meanwhile takes visitors on a breath-taking tour of festive delight around one of Cardiff city’s most beloved landmarks, and has welcomed almost 300,000 visitors in total since its debut event in 2021. As Wales’ premier festive lights trail, it is also providing seven key Welsh charities with fundraising, creative and volunteering opportunities in 2023, and donating more than 3,000 visitor experiences to a wide number of other good causes this year too.
As well as Guide Dogs Cymru, the event is also working with homeless charity Crisis, the Welsh Refugee Charity, Pontypridd charity Citrus Arts in 2023, and is also set to host the Christmas Remembrance Light Trail in partnership with Cardiff City Hospice this coming weekend (Dec 10th).
Roxy Robinson, Creative Director at From The Fields which produces the trail, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with more charitable causes than ever to place the 2023 event firmly at the heart of the communities which continue to welcome us back so warmly to Cardiff city centre year on year. We feel totally humbled by how well Christmas at Bute Park has been received locally since it first launched in 2021 and are more committed than ever to working with a wide range of community causes to make sure the event is a memorable one for everyone, in all kinds of ways.”
“We’re also especially delighted, as a dog friendly event, to have been able to give these beautiful dogs from Guide Dogs Cymru a festive outing of their own and some well-deserved recognition for the wonderful work they do in supporting others in the process,” Roxy added.
With more than 145,000 tickets sold in 2022, Christmas at Bute Park opened once again to the public in Cardiff city centre on November 24th, and will now run through until January 1st 2024, bringing five weeks of festive magic with it.
During that time, more than 4,000 tickets will have also been donated to communities, families and residents through Cardiff Council Play Service’s ‘Big ticket giveaway’, via Cardiff Foodbank, through the Winter of Well-being initiative run by Child Friendly Cardiff, and various other initiatives too.
The 2023 event expects to welcome more than 100,000 visitors and is also fully accessible to those with wheelchairs and prams, offering an inclusive celebration of Christmas for all the family.
Images by Richard Williams Photography