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Things to do in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

Frontage of Nottingham University
Nottingham University ©Shutterstock / mitzy

Welcome to Nottingham, a vibrant friendly city - where the past and present harmonise perfectly to create a unique destination, offering something for everyone.

A Legendary Past

Nottingham has a colourful past of legend and lace and caves and castles. Beneath the bustling city streets is a unique labyrinth of man made caves, over 400 in total.

Entrance to Nottingham Caves showing brick built building set into the hillside
Caves of Nottingham ©Shutterstock / WDG Photo

The Caves of Nottingham is your chance to explore some of them including the tannery, air raid shelter and Victorian slum.

Above the ground, Nottingham castle stands high on the city skyline. The original castle was burned down in the English civil War leaving only the medieval gatehouse.

Statue of Robin Hood flexing his bow, with Nottingham Castle in background
Robin Hood Statue at Nottingham Castle ©Shutterstock / Mark William Richardson

The fine ducal mansion that was built in its place has exhibitions which bring its turbulent history to life and is also an acclaimed museum and art gallery today for contemporary works.

Below Castle Rock, the Brewhouse Yard Museum offers another chance to trace Nottingham life through the ages.  A short walk across the city brings you to the splendid Shire Hall, home to the Galleries of Justice.

The River Trent and Trent Bridge with Nottingham in the background
River Trent and Trent Bridge ©Shutterstock / mitzy

This journey through time gives you a chance to discover everything about justice in England through the ages, from the Victorian courtroom and county gaol to today's crime scene investigations.

Lace and the Sally Army

Nottingham's industrial heritage is founded on lace. Nottingham led the way pioneering the great lace making machines that took its production from the cottages to the factories. Its fascinating story is told at the Museum of Nottingham Lace.

It is located in what was the hub of the world's 19th century lace industry an area still known today as the Lace Market. One of Nottingham's oldest buildings, the Severns building, is home to the Lace Centre, the perfect place to buy your lace souvenirs.

The Nottingham Skyline
Nottingham Skyline ©Shutterstock / majeczka

The Museum of costume and textiles also pays testament to the changing face of fashion and the textile industry over the centuries which has and still does play a big part in city life.

As well as Robin Hood, Byron and Lawrence, other famous figures that have helped shape Nottingham's heritage are William Booth, founder of the Salvation army who had his home in Sneinton on the city outskirts and George Green the eminent mathematician. He is remembered at Green's Mill in Sneinton, which he once owned and which is still a working windmill and Science Centre.

Imposing arches of the Nottinhgam War Memorial
Nottingham War Memorial ©Shutterstock / mitzy

Stylish Shopping

Nottingham is one of the top two retail centres in the UK according to a recent national survey and it really is a shopper's paradise with over 1300 shops from which to choose.

Row of Victorian red-brick buildings
Row of Victorian Shops and Houses ©Shutterstock / Alastair Wallace

There are six major department stores and two major shopping centres, the Victoria and the Broadmarsh centres, offering all-weather shopping.

Gothic style red stone office building with spire
Victorian Gothic Offices ©Shutterstock / Alastair Wallace

The elegant Flying Horse Walk and Exchange Arcades are a must for top quality clothing, arts, furniture and accessories.

There are many specialised shops offering everything from collectable antiques along Derby Road, to the latest must-have goods and items that you can only find in the unique Hockley area of the city.

Extensive pedestrianisation and splendid floral displays around the city in summer make city centre shopping a real pleasure.

So too the abundance of restaurants, cafes, pubs and bistros around the city which, when weather permits, bring al fresco dining for a real continental feel.

Not surprising therefore that Nottingham has been voted one of the most "vital and vibrant" city centres in the UK.

Entertainment and Culture

At the end of the day, Nottingham is still buzzing with life as the choice of entertainment on offer brings people of all ages to the city to sample what is becoming a legendary nightlife.

Dining out is not to be missed Nottingham has over 200 restaurants from which to choose. Pubs and bars in the city include what is reputedly England's oldest inn to the most elegant of modern wine bars.

Those in search of culture are well served by excellent theatres The Victorian Theatre Royal and modern Royal concert Hall bring a year round programme of drama and music to the city.

View of Trent Bridge at night with lights reflecting in the river
Trent Bridge by Night ©Shutterstock / Alastair Wallace

Nottingham Playhouse is one of the country's premier venues for contemporary theatre and the Malt Cross Music Hall, fully restored to its 19th century glory, offers live entertainment that brings the spirit of the 1870's to the present day.

View of Nottingham tower blocks from a high vantage point
Nottingham Blends Old and New Architecture ©Shutterstock / Ana del Castillo

The Broadway is the first branch of the National Film Theatre and is acclaimed for its innovative programming.

Nottingham's fantastic National Ice Centre has made the city the UK home to many ice sports including ice hockey and speed skating.

If you are bringing a toddler to Nottingham, have a look at our Fun Things To Do in Nottingham with Toddlers article, which has loads of exciting places to visit.

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