Six Nations: Cardiff prepares for ‘crazy’ Grand Slam party
The pubs are stocked, the hotels full and the choir in fine voice – the scene is set for a “crazy” Grand Slam party.
Some 275,000 people are expected to pour into Cardiff for Saturday’s Wales v Ireland Six Nations decider.
Extra flights have been laid on to bring fans from Dublin and one landlord predicts 35,000 pints will be poured at his city centre pub alone.
Road closures take effect from 11:45 GMT while the bad weather has scuppered plans for a giant outdoor screen.
Wales are aiming for a third Grand Slam under Warren Gatland who takes charge for his last Six Nations game as coach of Wales.
But Ireland still have a chance to snatch the championship with a win in Cardiff (kick-off 14:45).
With so many fans in the Welsh capital, it is no wonder bars are ordering extra stocks of beer and, with St Patrick’s Day on Sunday, particularly Guinness.
On what is set to be a “bumper day”, one manager is even positioning vans around the city with extra stock to make sure no-one runs dry.
The Philharmonic is predicted to sell 35,000 pints on Saturday while JD Wetherspoon expects to take more than £200,000 across its three pubs in the city centre.
Management at the Gatekeeper – opposite the Principality Stadium – estimate bar staff will pour more than 100 pints per minute for the whole day.
Walkabout – the biggest sports bar in town with a capacity of 1,400 – has even bussed in 180 kegs of beer.
Nick Newman, Chair of Cardiff Licensees Forum, said: “The Wales-Ireland game is always special.
“Our Celtic cousins enjoy a party as much as us. So this will be five times bigger than a normal Saturday.
“We’ve been building to this obviously for some time. As soon as we beat England we kind of realised there was going to be an awful lot on this weekend.
“The kick off time really suits us tomorrow as people will be out early having some food and drink before the game and then they’ll have the whole night to go.
“If I think back to 2005, I was running a big pub on St Mary Street and we actually had to have an emergency delivery at six in the morning.”
Some 50 additional flights have brought thousands of Ireland fans to south Wales on St Patrick’s Day weekend meaning many hotels and guest houses in the capital are full.
However with rain and strong wind expected on Saturday, Cardiff council have confirmed that they will not be facilitating a big screen this year.
The council said the weather forecast “creates too much risk” for such an open-air event.
A spokesperson added: “Whatever the weather, the capital will afford every visitor a fantastic welcome on a day which will be a huge boost to local businesses.”
Trains in the Cardiff area are expected to be very busy all day, with people travelling into the city advised to travel as early as possible.
Transport for Wales has confirmed Cardiff Queen Street Station will close at 16:15 and there will be a post-match queue system in place at Cardiff Central Station.
A full city centre road closure is in place between 11.15 GMT and 17:45, including: