November might bring dark nights and grey skies to Wales, but that certainly doesn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves! There are still plenty of things to see and do around the country, including a busy calendar of events, fairs and festivals, a spike in rugby fever, incredible wildlife watching opportunities and a reason to get wet that doesn’t involve the rain! So pack some warm layers and an umbrella and come see the many delights late autumn offers.
Here are our top 10 things to do in Wales in November.
Start with a bang
The story of Guy Fawkes, gunpowder, treason and plot might have happened on English soil, but that doesn’t stop the Welsh from getting involved in the Bonfire Night celebrations. Most towns and cities in Wales throw events on or around the 5th of November with bonfires, fireworks, fairground rides, live music and food stalls.
Plus, some family theme parks like Oakwood in South Wales have late-night openings and fireworks extravaganzas. So wrap up warm, stock up on sparklers, toffee apples and treacle toffee, and head to a fireworks display!
If you’ve never watched a rugby game surrounded by a pack of cheering, singing Welsh fans, you’re in for a truly unforgettable experience. Rugby is the national sport of Wales, and Welsh fans are some of the best in the world. When big matches are on, the city of Cardiff turns red, white, and green with bunting, and fans deck themselves out in flags, face paint, and fancy dress as they swarm towards Principality Stadium.
November sees rugby fever reach new heights as the three-week Autumn International Series comes to Cardiff and the Welsh team battles the titans of the Southern Hemisphere on home ground.
If you can’t get tickets to a game, don’t worry, just take yourself to any sports pub in Cardiff, and you’ll soon be swept up in the electric atmosphere. The locals will be more than happy to explain the finer points of the game, and if you cheer Wales on, you’ll make friends for life, or at least for the night!
Christmas comes early
In Wales, the festive season starts early, and from November, you can find Christmas markets and fairs springing up all over the country. Head to one of these to enjoy mulled wine and mince pies and get a jump start on your Christmas shopping:
- Cardiff Christmas Market: The capital has been hosting this festive market for over 30 years, and it opens its doors in the first weeks of November straight through till Christmas.
- Cardiff Winter Wonderland: running independently from the Christmas Market, the wonderland is home to funfairs, grottos, rooftop restaurants, and apres ski and ice bars. Plus, a covered ice rink, so the fun can continue even on drizzly days! Open from the second week of November.
- Llandudno Christmas Extravaganza: is a newcomer to the festive scene, but it’s already attracting big crowds and getting great feedback. This free event runs for three days at the end of November and involves live music, panto and circus performers, artisan crafts, local food stalls, drink tastings and igloos!
- Swansea Waterfront Wonderland: As well as a Christmas market with shopping and food stalls, this magical pop-up playground has ice skating rinks, a Santa’s grotto, an alpine village, and a funfair. It opens in the second week of November.
It’s a dogs life
Many beaches in Wales ban dogs (except guide dogs) over the summer months for the enjoyment of the beachgoers and to preserve the cleanliness of the sand and water. Most only have the ban in place from May to September, but an extra-strict selection keeps the ban going until the end of October. But by November, you and your canine buddies can run free all along the coastline!
Why not celebrate by hitting the beaches that are especially busy in the summer, like Tenby’s North and South Beach, Angleseey’s Benllech Beach or Abersoch’s main beach? Or, if you’re concerned about wild and windy weather conditions, head to a peninsula area like Mumbles Heads, the Gower, and Llyn Peninsula or try Anglesey and the west Pembrokeshire coastline. There are beaches and craggy coves facing all directions in those areas, so you can always find a sheltered spot.
November marks the last warm sea water month before the temperature takes a decidedly chilly turn for the winter. And since November is also peak surfing season in Wales, it’s the perfect time to hit the waves!
But if surfing is not your vibe, don’t worry. November in Wales is also a great time to head out sea-kayaking or coasteering. The summer crowds are well and truly gone meaning you’ll get smaller groups and more attention from the instructors. When the waters are quieter, you also have a greater chance of spotting wildlife as you explore the craggy coastline and sea caves. Plus, did we mention the (relatively) balmy sea water?
A run with a view
Fed up of pounding away the miles on urban pavements or endless treadmills? Why not mix it up by running through some of Wales’s most beautiful scenery? In November, you have a choice of races, distances and locations to run in Wales, but the thing they have in common is the stunning scenery.
There’s the Conwy Half Marathon, a 13-mile route which starts and finishes in view of the magnificent Conwy Castle. The trail passes over and alongside the Conwy River, past beaches with views of Puffin Island and Anglesey and around the Great Orme limestone headland. It’s been voted one of the most scenic half marathon routes in the UK and is part of the Four Castles Series, which features three other scenic half marathons in stunning locations throughout the year.
If a half marathon doesn’t even get you breaking a sweat, why not head to the Brecon Beacons for a 26-mile trail marathon or 46-mile ultra Marathon instead? These events occur alongside each other on the same day, with routes leading through mixed terrain in the epic landscapes of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The rainy days of autumn don’t slow down the marine life of Wales, and November is an excellent time to spot some fantastic wildlife.
The Atlantic Grey Seal breeding season runs from September to December, and you stand a high chance of spotting seal pups lounging with their mothers on some of Wales’s rockier beaches. And November is prime time to spot them taking their first tentative plunge into the ocean and beginning to swim. Search for them along the secluded coves of the Llyn Peninsula, Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Bay.
Dolphins and porpoises are abundant in the waters of Wales all year round, but in autumn, you’ll be competing with far fewer crowds for a spot on a dolphin-watching boat or viewpoint. So head to Strumble Heads or Mwnt for an excellent view of the water, and keep your eyes peeled for passing sharks, orca and humpback whales too.
And you don’t have to be on the coast to see something amazing. In late autumn, the rivers of Wales play host to incredible and acrobatic displays of salmon and seatrout hurling themselves upriver as they return to their spawning grounds. You can witness this remarkable event along the River Taff, which runs through Cardiff’s Bute Park, at the Cenarth Falls near Newcastle Emlyn, and along the River Marteg in Mid Wales.
Another month with a busy festival calendar in Wales? But of course! Take your pick from these events happening around the country.
- The Royal Welsh Winter Fair: A smaller, winter version of the huge summer event. At this two-day celebration of rural Welsh life, visitors can watch livestock auctions, competitions, and skill shows, shop at independent retail stores, sample award-winning local produce, and enjoy family-friendly entertainment.
- Tenby Blues Fest: One of South Wales’s most beloved festivals. This three-day event features around 50 acts performing Blues in all its forms at over 20 venues. And most of it is free!
- Mid Wales Beer Festival: A 10-day festival showcasing an astounding number of real ales and ciders. Plus food, live music, family-friendly entertainment and some unique events (more on that below).
- Abertoir: If you didn’t get all your scares in at Halloween, head to Aberystwyth Arts Centre in November for the International Horror Festival Of Wales. A six-day celebration of all things horror and horror film related.
- Hay Festival Winter Weekend: Every spring, the beautiful town of Hay-on-Wye hosts the UK’s most acclaimed literary and arts festival. And it’s so popular that it led to this mini version in November. This three-day event is filled with talks, workshops, performances and celebrations of all things literary.
A little bit wobbly
We mentioned the Mid Wales Beer festival above, but we didn’t say that it kicks off with two highly unique and enjoyable events. The Real Ale Wobble and The Real Ale Ramble. These two events involve mountain biking (wobbling) or walking (rambling) along a predetermined route through beautiful – and often rather muddy – Welsh countryside, stopping at checkpoints to quaff real ale along the way.
The events are not races, they’re open to all levels, and participants are free to go at their own pace. Nor is the ale mandatory. Soft drinks, hot drinks, and food are also available at each checkpoint. The events raise money for local causes and get the beer festival off to a fun start.
The wobble, ramble and beer fest all happens in Llanwrtyd Wells. If that name sounds familiar to you, it’s because it also hosts the Bogsnorkelling World Championships that we talked about in August, the Man Vs Horse event in June, and the World Stone Skimming Championships in May. All in all, it’s a town that knows how to enjoy itself, and these events should be on everyone’s itineraries!
Away with the birds
Wales might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of autumn warmth, but for flocks of migratory birds, it’s just what the doctor ordered. During late autumn and winter, Wales plays host to a variety of species of sea birds, ducks and geese who roost, feed and shelter here throughout the chillier months. Check out the RSPB reserves and wetlands across the country for guides on where to see specific species.
Meanwhile, another extraordinary natural phenomenon is occurring: starling murmurations. In late October and November, vast flocks of starlings gather in the skies at dusk across the country. The birds – in numbers as high as 50,000 – will swoop and sway as one through the darkening sky in a mesmerising motion before landing to roost for the night. The reasons for this hypnotic display are debated amongst experts, but whatever the reasons, it’s an incredible and beautiful sight.
Head to the RSPB reserves in Newport and Conwy, Aberystwyth Pier, the Teifi Marshes in Cardigan, or Minwear Woods in Pembrokeshire to catch the show. Or check the Starlings In The UK website to find more locations.
So there you go
Our top ten things to do and see in Wales in November! What do you think? Do you fancy watching dancing starlings and somersaulting salmon? Singing along with the rugby fans? Or starting your festive season early? Whatever activities take your fancy, make sure to book your holiday accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment. And we’ll see you in November!
What about next month? Here’s our guide to the top 10 things to do in Wales in December.