Shoppers and pubs have described one of the busiest Saturdays of the year in Cardiff hours before a “violent disturbance” that left six people injured.
Pubs and restaurants were fully booked ahead of the weekend as hundreds of people descended on the capital city to take advantage of Christmas shopping.
On Saturday queues were seen outside many shops in the city centre despite the rain as people took advantage of the second weekend after fire-break lockdown.
Later on Saturday evening, the streets were described as “crazy” compared to a normal weekend while customers enjoyed a drink ahead of the 10pm curfew. According to pub owners, a number of customers were believed to have come across the border from England, despite the national lockdown still in place.
At around 9.50pm, a heavy police presence attended Queen Street after receiving “multiple” reports of a violent incident.
Six people were injured, including three with stab wounds and one person with a head injury.
Four teenagers, aged 16 and 17, were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder in connection with the incident and remain in police custody.
On Sunday, the town centre remained busy during the day time and evening, with groups of people spotted in St Mary Street and near Cardiff Castle.
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Describing the city centre in the afternoon before Saturday’s attack, one group from Treorchy and Tonypandy said the amount of people out shopping made some members feel “anxious”.
Lisa Pearce said: “It’s not the same. There’s too many people, it’s making me anxious. We’ll all have to go back to the hospital because of all the people here. We’ve had to queue in each place and you can’t get to a pub because everywhere is fully booked.”
Friend Kirsty Richards added: “I came last Sunday and it wasn’t like this but because it’s a Saturday everyone is off.”
Posting ahead of Saturday night, one pub in the city centre urged customers to be “nice” ahead of what was expected to be the “busiest Saturday of the year”.
In a Facebook post, Bub’s Cardiff said: “Been absolutely swarmed with emails today and yesterday of people trying to book a table for tonight – lemme tell you now, we’ve been fully booked for a while.
“Go easy on us, we’re a small team, we don’t pay someone extra to do the emails and take the bookings, it’s one person in the morning whilst also setting up the bar and getting everything ready for the day.
“Now, as I said – we are fully booked today…”
Footage of the major incident in Queen Street:
Over in St David’s Street, Traders Tavern owner Nicola McCue described a “very busy” day and evening for the city centre pub on Saturday.
She said: “It was very busy yesterday all day. We did find it was not all Welsh people too. We did find a lot of people yesterday were from over the bridge which is something that needs to be addressed.
“Every weekend has been the same. We are fully booked next week, and the 18th.
“It’s good but we have got to have someone on the door, if someone moves you have to have the table quickly cleared as you don’t want empty space. It’s hard work. At closing time, people are just getting stuck into it when you ring the bell at quarter to 10.”
Speaking about the incident on Saturday evening, she added: “We did see a lot of commotion back at the Motorpoint Arena area.
“But we never had any trouble, we have got nothing but complements at the end of the night.”
One pub owner, who did not want to be named, also described a busy night after turning a number of people away at the door.
They added: “We had a lot of English people over here celebrating Christmas.”
On Saturday evening, one eye-witness described a “mass brawl” outside Central Bar in Windsor Place.
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They said: “It was 9.45pm outside Central Bar when the incident started. There were around 15-20 males fighting outside.
“One group then ran towards Sainsbury’s pursued by the other, one with a chair over their head. This was thrown and hit a parked car.
“Police were called at 9.46pm and arrived on scene at around 9.48.”
South Wales Police have since been granted powers to ban people from the city centre for 24 hours if they cause trouble
One woman who lives in the city centre also said there was plenty of people drinking on Saturday night.
She said: “I live in the flats above Greggs so I saw the whole incident but town was crazy last night.
“It felt like a normal weekend. So many people were out drinking and there was no social distancing anywhere. We’ve come so far but it looks like we’re going backwards already.”
Another added: “Town was awful, mental. Massive crowds on the streets and lots of groups and students.”
For other businesses, however, Saturday marked a busy day but nothing close to the numbers they would usually expect at this time of year.
Nick Newman, manager of the Philharmonic, said: “We had a good day, it was about par with the Saturday before. But with reduced capacity, we can’t in any stretch of the imagination say we are busy.
“For example, our capacity is down 75%. It’s normally 950 but now our current capacity is 249.
“With an event city like we are and no rugby, no concerts, none of it, no-one in their wildest imagination would say it’s busy.”
Mr Newman added that the venue had not experienced any trouble with the 10pm curfew.
He said: “We can’t get excited about it, we are not used to stopping at 10pm each night.
“Everyone is sat down, the music is quiet, it’s a sedate atmosphere.”