A driver’s eye view of the Downhill Derby racecourse. There were much larger Summer Festival crowds on the sea front this afternoon than last year – when the event was run by Penarth Town Council. This time it is being run by the local professional event company Genero – and the council is taking a back seat but retaining overall responsibility for the event.

The number of people attending Summer Festival activities on Penarth Esplanade today is reckoned to be generally up on last year’s rather lack-lustre affair.

In warm and sunny weather crowds flocked to sample the street food being cooked alfresco along the prom and also to watch the major event – the Downhill Derby –  this afternoon.

Downhill Derby drivers were airborne at times and had to negotiate a tyre-chicane

Outdoor food traders, including award-winning restaurateur James Sommerin, said there were definitely more people around this year than last –  although as yet no official estimates have been made .

However some people said they felt that – notwithstanding the Downhill Derby  – there was a lack of a big lynch-pin attraction at this year’s  event and there also seemed  something wrong with the whole feel and purpose of the event .

“Miss Penarth” riding atop the cab of a lorry in the 1958 carnival through Plassey St , Penarth

In the 1970s the old Penarth Carnival had processions and floats and a real community feel. Critics say this weekend’s “Summer Festival” seems to be a souless event organised mainly for outsiders

Carnival Day in Penarth 2018 ….with alfresco cooks wearing health and safety masks to protect them from the unpleasant smoke . It was certainly not the  traditional community scene of the 1970s

There were plenty of charity stalls and ‘worthy’ local organisations somewhat pointlessly promoting themselves on the sea front – but there seemed to be nothing which captured the community feel and flavour of the old Carnival.

One elderly resident  said it seemed a fairly flat event which was not about the town, or by the town and didn’t seem in any way intended for the local townspeople.

Not many people could be bothered to watch the Belgium v England World Cup runners-up match relayed live on the big screen

There seemed to be little interest amongst the crowd in a  big screen relay of the Belgium v England World Cup match to determine 3rd place in the tournament . In any case a lack-lustre and demotivated England side were losing.

The World Cup final will be shown on the big screen tomorrow .

A female “barker” encourages customers to buy alcohol at one of bars at the event. There was plenty of demand for cold beer at the eyewatering price of £4 a glass – served from three open air bars.

There were no fewer than three bars all selling alcohol on the sea front – with beer at £4 a glass – giving a somewhat tacky “Picnic Penarth” feel to the afternoon’s events.

[ Yet another Picnic Penarth is due to be held next month on the Esplanade despite a plea from Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustines) that it should not go ahead . ]

The long-demolished Esplanade Hotel prohibited customers from walking outside with their drinks. Open air drinking was not allowed. Now drinking alcohol on the promenade is being openly promoted (Archive photo by Ben Salter)

It used to be against the licensing laws for alcohol to be sold for public consumption out of doors on the Esplanade . One local resident recalled that drinkers in the bar of the long-demolished Esplanade Hotel would be ordered to empty their pint glasses on the pavement if they so much as dared step outside the bar and into the open air .

Now it appears that the  Labour-controlled Penarth Town Council is openly encouraging daytime drinking in public places – in direct contravention of South Wales Police  attempts to stop underage drinking in the streets.

Some visitors decided eschew the “attractions” on the Esplanade and opted for a more traditional Penarth seaside activity – sunbathing on the pebble beach

There is no traditional Punch and Judy show for children on the pier this time. Many left wing councils now deem Punch and Judy shows to be politically-incorrect and beyond the pale even though, in bygone years, Penarth children have been captivated by them.

Fireworks contractors getting ready for tonight’s display

Fireworks contractors have been at work on Penarth Pier all day getting hundreds of fireworks connected up for being fired electronically in tonight’s display. The firework display begins at  22:30.


The Grand Finale of Penarth 2018 Summer Festival fireworks (Photo by Mike)

The fireworks had been due to begin at 22:30 but actually began at 22:20 causing some people to miss the spectacular show .


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  1. cogan nomen says:

    Why are there no pictures
    Of our Penarth drunks
    Who frequent the ‘ Italian gardens ‘ ?

  2. Taxpayer says:

    I’m here cant say there are anymore people than,last year??

  3. Christopher David - not an anon says:

    £4 quid a glass !!.

    • Jp says:

      What happens when the town council hands over events to private companies …

    • Peter Church says:

      Jammie’s had san miguel for £3 a pint! At least I think that was what the sign said. There was a big queue so must have been good.
      Fire works were very good, but started at 22:20 NOT 22:30 and I missed the start walking down the hill 😦

      • CC says:

        You should have arrived 10 minutes earlier, had a bite too eat, enjoyed a drink or two, soaked up the atmosphere before the fireworks were set off.

  4. Louiseholistic says:

    I don’t like to be negative, but this year’s event was dire apart from the fireworks display, which is consistently good. Expensive food and drink, no timetable or programme of entertainment to be found anywhere. Every time I looked at the big screen it was showing Wimbledon, not the downhill derby. I can watch Wimbledon at home. Plenty of entertainment for small children with affluent parents. Nothing for the rest of us. I’d love to know how much PTC paid Genero to run this non-event. Very disappointing. The lovely sunny weather brought the crowds out, not the festival.

  5. David Day says:

    The firework display is put on much too late and is very unpleasant and noisy if you don’t like fireworks.

    • AK says:

      It does improve the fireworks when it’s dark!

      Not much point in going to a firework display if you don’t like loud noises and fireworks either.

  6. flowerpower says:

    Poorly advertised im afraid – it virtually passed me by living on the north side pf Penarth. Was up in town yesterday and nothing there to suggest there was a festival on

    • whatsoccurin says:

      Interesting point-caught up with TV show “Weatherman Walking” as Derek was doing my Lavernock Cliff walk-He was accompanied by Colin Jackson who he referred to as a “local”-Colin confirmed that he had lived locally for 20 years but knew very little of Penarth. I think if you did a survey of the Marina Residents, many have little contact with Town Centre or Promenade-there was certainly nothing in the Marina advertising the festival-think they prefer their local “hog roast”!

      • flowerpower says:

        The barrage, (or people travelling to access it) is a major entry point to Penarth now, which which both PTC & VoG ignore. We have become the free car park for Cardiff events and there is nothing in the vicinity to advertise the town of Penarth.

    • sjleworthy says:

      Any events, ie, plant sales, coffee mornings, festivals etc etc in Penarth are so poorly advertised. Mind you, this new internet thingie does sound quite exciting. Maybe in a few years our town will jump on board!

  7. CelticMan says:

    The event was a non-event apart from the.fireworks and downhill derby. Boring and expensive. Sat by an elderly lady in the Italian Gardens who is local and has come here for years and said nothing is happening, no programme of events and will not be back. Not many people at clifftop for fireworks either. Sad, isn’t it.

  8. Penarth born and bred says:

    No little train on the pier, no Punch and Judy, no cycle race and no Donkey Derby!
    Sorry PTC holiday week died years ago.

  9. Hannah Sheppard says:

    Oh for goodness sake you lot, give it a rest. It was a happy occasion for families to enjoy together and with friends, yet it has attracted only one positive comment. There are certainly some sad lives about. Why not get out and about and embrace what Penarth has to offer instead of taking cheap potshots at every opportunity.

  10. Jp says:

    Papa Lazarou – clearly it is NOT nonsense to say that £4 for a pint is what happens when your local council cuts in private companies to benefit from events which were community run previously SINCE THAT IT WAS THEY WERE CHARGING. What Trumpian ‘nonsense’ you spout!

    I think it incredible that the Council is Again going to put two fingers firmly up to local traders and run another hiring picnic Penarth next month just because it’s private sector partner wants to do it …. Clue to Town council, there might be a reason a private company wants to do it! As usual, the council and business tax payers lose out, although having public funds used to benefit private business at its behest is new and may, perhaps , need to be investigated – after all, when was this lucrative partnership agreed? What’s re the terms? When was it put out to tender? If it wasn’t, who is ensuring it isn’t breaching EU requirements? Mainly though, how can a private company make so much profit in this it wants to do it again, and the town council with 20 workers and nearly as many clots can’t?? Lastly, I hope public funds will not be squandered further defending the now inevitable group action for loss of business from town centre traders, and I hope that they do organise a counter-event!

  11. AK says:

    I think as a Penarth ‘Festival’, it was pretty poor whichever organisation organised it. Apart from the fireworks and the downhill derby (which I missed because I thought they were on Sunday!), it was just a repeat of last months Penarth Picnic.

    But it was good to see everyone out and about enjoying the sunshine and traffic free Esplanade.

    I recall when there was an actual carnival procession – superbly decorated lorry floats from local organisations, procession of classic cars and marching bands. The event has been in terminal decline since the parade stopped. The excuse of ‘insurance’ does not wash.

    1. The vehicles are insured for third party liability or they would not be on the road.
    2. Just inform the insurance company of the ‘alterations’ to the vehicle
    3. The risk is surely less crawling along at 2mph that it is battling through Cardiff and Penarth traffic.

    But – how about making the picnic tables on the seaward side of the esplanade a permanent fixture ? Plenty of room, and much more pleasant than sitting looking at car exhausts. Just need to ensure that the fishermen don’t cut bait on them !

  12. Tim Land says:

    Hugely disappointing corporate event focused around alcohol with a lack of family entertainment. Carnival was an absolute high point with so many brilliant features over the year, this was totally depressing apart from the weather and the two remaining features of the derby and fireworks. The council need to give this back to local organisation and community input.

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