The hugely successful Welcome to Wales Concert was the first event to launch the Ryder Cup on October 29. The concert held in the Millennium Stadium featured a range of high profile Welsh stars, including Swansea born golf fanatic Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dame Shirley Bassey, who dedicated her song, Hey Big Spender to billionaire Sir Terry Matthews who brought the Ryder Cup to The Celtic Manor Resort.
HRH The Prince of Wales was guest of honour, along with the Ryder Cup teams who appeared on stage with compère Steve Jones, singer Kathryn Jenkins and Britain’s favourite choir Only Men Aloud. The stadium was configured for a dinner on the pitch on one side of the curtain, with an audience of 13,000 watching the big stage, and many more tuning in on Sky 3. Winning Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie described it as a: “fabulous occasion” and former winning Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam claimed it was the best event he had seen in 27 years of the Ryder Cup.
On the second practice day The Welsh Assembly Government worked with the Welsh National Opera (WNO) to put on an gala evening for the many visiting dignitaries to the event, with an opera themed dinner on stage at the Wales Millennium Centre. The evening was hosted by the Welsh Deputy First Minister, and attendees included the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso.
Guests were treated to a musical performance by the orchestra and chorus by the WNO in the Donald Gordon Theatre, hosted by Only Men Aloud’s Music Director Tim Rhys-Evans. It was followed by the ‘big reveal’ - the curtain was raised to surprise guests with a stage fully laid for dinner enhanced with stage sets, props and specially designed hanging mobiles to represent the specific opera theme for each table. Guests were given a CD of the evening’s performance as they departed.
The final event was a night at the castle. A prestigious guest list included the heads of the PGA who gathered for a Dinner hosted by the First Minister in the grounds of Cardiff Castle, featuring live music, street performers and a sound and light show. Comedy characters in period costume greeted guests on arrival before flaming torches led the way to a marquee. Live music was provided throughout the grounds and contemporary images of Wales were projected onto the Norman Keep of the castle. The marquee was set up for 400, with contemporary decoration and menu, and quirky features such as glass table lights filled with sand and golf balls. Live entertainment was provided by the choirs of Only Men Aloud and the 200 strong Only Boys Aloud who ‘invaded’ the castle to thrill the crowds on the lawn.