The ghost mall with a single store that thousands of people have visited every week
It is 2 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon in the Ebbw Vale Festival grounds and there is no one to see.
Through the empty alleys and barricaded windows, where thousands of people used to go every week, you can now only hear the sound of sheep in the nearby mountains.
Even the popular wishing well at the entrance to the site has been completely emptied recently, further adding to the misery the site has faced over the past year. And without the lonely Sports Direct at the far end of the center, there wouldn’t be a single store there now, in a place that once offered such promise for tourism in Blaenau Gwent.
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Despite the efforts and proposals of the local council to purchase the site, along with a number of other solutions such as a proposed water park and a rumored hotel in recent years, at present, Festival Park is not little more than a ghost town on picturesque hills. overlooking Ebbw Vale.
While an internet search will tell you that the mall is permanently closed and the phones are no longer ringing, there is still no official word on the future of the park from the GWM Capitol owners, who do not ‘have so far not responded to requests for comment. on the site.
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Likewise, Blaenau Gwent City Council has also declined to comment on what will happen to the park in the coming years, despite being heard by locals that it is for sale.
Store owner Kim Maguire, who moved to the town of Ebbw Vale with her John Jenkins gift shop, which was one of the original stores on the site, said she was bitterly disappointed. that had happened with the city’s iconic mall and that she was still missing her time there. .
She said: “We moved the business to Ebbw Vale last year, and it’s been a lot quieter than at Festival Park, as the town doesn’t have as many visitors as we used to. go in. I continue to hear from customers on a regular basis how much they miss Festival Park and how shocked they are at what has happened to it over the past few years.
“It still seems pretty surreal to be honest, even now a year later. It was a sad day when it closed for me as a business and for the community at large. Everyone who worked there on are also missing, although we are now in a larger store further towards the center of town. ”
All of Wales watched the site opening in May 1992, in the presence of Prince Charles, Danni Minogue and Catherine Zeta Jones.
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Filled with fairground attractions, plant exhibits and the famous mechanical clock, it has drawn over two million tourists to the area of the former steelworks of Ebbw Vale, surrounded by stunning Welsh hills.
It was later transformed into a modern shopping center with over 30 stores and restaurants, complete with a children’s play park and its own owl sanctuary. You can read more about the history of the Garden Festival of Wales and its legacy here.
Kelvin Morgan, who once ran a fresh fruit and veg shop in Festival Park, also said he was desperately sad to see the site decline after he himself left nearly a year ago.
“It used to be so beautiful there with all the flower gardens and the shops, so to see it as it is now is very sad,” he said.
“I even remember the excitement when it opened as the Garden Festival, and there were hundreds of people there when it first turned into a mall after that. Now with all but one of the stores closed, and with none of the clarification of what’s going on in the future, we just assume it’s over, and that’s it.
“It’s a complete ghost town at the moment, although I think it would still be a shame for people here to see it disappear.”