His Dark Materials: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s karaoke nights fuel US tourism boom in Cardiff

The number of American tourists looking to holiday in the Welsh capital doubled earlier this month

Lin-Manuel Miranda films His Dark Materials in Crickhowell, Wales

From armoured bears and animal daemons, to hot air balloons and parallel universes, you’d imagine that filming BBC One’s His Dark Materials would prove a colourful experience — and it certainly seems that Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has fallen in love with one of the show’s scenic settings: Cardiff.

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Miranda, who plays Texan balloonist and explorer Lee Scoresby in the series, hasn’t made a secret of how much he’s enjoyed immersing himself in Welsh culture — not to mention Cardiff’s karaoke bar scene, where he’s made multiple appearances. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that this year American tourists have taken note of the Welsh capital…

The first two weeks of October saw the number of Americans searching for holidays in Cardiff double compared to the previous year, following Manuel’s return to the area to film season two (with the potential added bonus of seeing the Tony winner perform live karaoke…) coupled with the release of the His Dark Materials trailer.

“We have seen pop culture bring locations into the mainstream more and more over the last few years,” a spokesperson for Expedia exclusively told RadioTimes.com. “Most recently, the Hamilton star Lin Manuel created a flurry of interest in the city of Cardiff, from American travellers specifically.”

“News circulated originally in 2018 about Lin enjoying the Welsh capital when filming His Dark Materials, but he was again spotted in Wales in September this year enjoying such sites as the St David’s coastal walk with his family. This, paired with the trailer of the new show launching in early October, most likely helped to create increased interest in the area and the filming locations in particular.”

The Mary Poppins Returns star previously told RadioTimes.com in an exclusive interview that he “did not expect to make international headlines” when he visited Porter’s Cardiff karaoke bar.

“I was on Twitter and someone said ‘hey we’re having musical theatre karaoke, come over,’ and I said ‘That sounds great!,'” Manuel said. “It’s modelled after, the thing they do it’s the first Thursday of every month, it’s called Jane’s Calamity, which is named after Jane’s crisis, which is a bar I’ve been to many times in New York.

“I was like ‘Oh, I’d love to do Marie’s Crisis in Cardiff.’ So, I didn’t expect it to be such a big deal…wouldn’t it be weirder if I weren’t there? But it was a lot of fun! I went twice.”

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The Hollywood star has already wrapped filming on His Dark Materials season two, but whether you’re hoping to spot some of the fantasy show’s onscreen locations, or you’re a history buff keen to visit some Welsh castles — what are you waiting for?


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His Dark Materials’ first episode will air on BBC One on Sunday 3rd November at 8.00pm, the BBC has revealed, and will be available on HBO internationally from the 4th November.