Nottingham City Centre
Most visits to Nottingham’s City Centre start at Old Market Square, this really is the hub of our city. You’ll probably spot a crowd of people standing next to one of the stone lions guarding the entrance to the majestic Council House. Don’t be alarmed by these crazy Brits, it’s Nottingham tradition to meet your friends at the “Left Lion”. From Old Market Square it’s a short walk to Nottingham’s major shopping district and eateries.
Many of you will have heard of Nottingham Castle in the stories of Robin Hood. But if you’re expecting the Medieval Fortress from the legends, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. The fairy-tale castle that once clung to castle rock was flattened in the 1600s to make way for the more modern Ducal Mansion that now crowns our city. You can still see the original stonework in the lower part of the castle gates, but sadly that is all that remains. Unfortunately, Nottingham Castle is also closed to the public until 2020 whilst it undergoes major renovations.
Who can visit Nottingham without hearing the tales of Robin Hood? The legend is evident in many of our street-names, statues and companies. There’s a Robin Hood experience by the castle but for a real insight into the legends behind Robin Hood we recommend you book yourself onto one of Ezekial Bone’s Robin Hood Tours (https://www.ezekialbone.com/) – there’s one on Saturday 6thJuly at 2pm. If you’re here that weekend it really is a must-see! The tour will show you the major sights, take you down into the caves and unravel the many layers of the Legend of Robin Hood along the way.
Art-lovers must visit the Contemporary, one of the largest galleries dedicated to contemporary art in the UK with tons of events and exhibitions all year around. And best of all, it’s free!
For any Sports fans out there- Nottingham has a lot to offer. With two football stadiums housing rival teams Nottingham Forest and Nottingham County, match days can get very lively. The Trent Bridge cricket ground often hosts international test matches and Nottingham is also home to the National Ice Centre. Here you can put on a pair of skates or, if you’re lucky catch the a “Black Panthers” ice-hockey match.
Nottingham is often referred to as the City of Caves. Quite an apt name as lying under the city there is a network of natural and manmade caves chiselled out of the limestone. Grab a tour to explore the underground history of Nottingham or “cave” in to your thirst by finding one of many pubs and bars with caves open to the public. Our favourite is Ye Olde Trip to Jeruselum– reputedly the oldest Inn in England. Every visitor to Nottingham should visit this traditional pub that is half-buried into Castle Rock and enjoy some local brewed ale or cider. Other options are the Lost Caves, a hidden cave bar within the secret bar Lost Property- hard to find but ask anyone on the committee and they’ll point you in the right direction. This is only open at weekends but well worth a visit, particularly if you’re a fan of a G&T.
Explore University Park
University of Nottingham’s main campus has a surprising amount to offer. Closest to the tram stop you’ll find Highfields Park, here you can rent a boatand have a paddle (just watch out for the resident Geese!) Or if you’d rather keep your feet on dry land, there’s a lovely circular 1.2km walk around the lake offering you excellent views of the famous Trent Building (you’ll recognise it from the picture on our website); it’s worth going all the way to the far-side of the lake where there are some lovely stepping stones. Back at the Lakeside Pavilion you can play a round or two mini-golfand grab a cup of coffee or an ice-cream to suit the mood of our notoriously temperamental British summer. The Lakeside Arts centre also boats a small theatre and a museum with lots of fantastic temporary exhibitions.
The main campus has quite a bit more to offer than this very public face. If you go for a wander, you’ll find lots of open spaces and hidden gardens (my favourite is the Millennium Garden, it’ll be sure to be blooming with colour in July!) Not far from our conference venue I recommend a walk there if you need some fresh air. University Park garden locations can be found here: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/sustainability/documents/gardensguide.pdf.
Escape to the Country
Situated in the middle of England it’s no surprise that Nottingham is surrounded by countryside. There are some real gems right on the doorstep, you’re really spoilt for choice!
The Peak District National Parkis a must-see for those nature lovers among you. From the rolling limestone dales and babbling brooks of the southern White Peaks to the mighty Tors and rocky crags of the Dark Peaks. The Peak District is a stunning at any time of year but in summer, when the heather-clad landscape turns purple, it’s simply breath-taking. Trains run from Nottingham Station to various stops within the Peak District. Just don’t forget to bring a map!
The legendary Sherwood Forest, home of the most famous outlaw Robin Hood, is also nearby (but not as close as the films would have you believe!) Once this magnificent forest stretched halfway across the country and surrounded the city, but now it’s almost an hour away. Still a beautiful woodland, Sherwood Forest harbours the famous Major Oak (Tree of the Year in 2014) where, legend has it, Robin and his band of merry men once hid from the Sheriff of Nottingham. There is also a nice little museum and tea room situated in the forest, making it a pleasant day out if you can be bothered with the journey.
Closer to home is Attenborough Nature Reserve – a real beauty spot that’s only 9km from the centre of town. A haven for birdwatchers and those craving a breath of fresh air, you can catch a train, tram or bus from the city centre and in half an hour you’ll be strolling around this oasis.
See how the other half live
Wandering around the grand former mansions of the Aristocracy is a popular British past-time. Nottingham’s own crown jewelWollaton Hall, Gardens & Deer Park is just a short walk from our venue. You might recognise this regal residence as the home of Bruce Wayne in the 2012 Batman film, Dark Knight Rises. Set in stunning parkland, roamed by a friendly herd of red deer, it’s hard to believe this is right in the heart of the city! There are cafes, a gift shop and even a small Natural History museum inside the Hall (with free entry!)
The National Trust is a major British charity that helps conserve both nature and architecture all around England and Wales. There are many majestic manors nearby Nottingham to explore and learn about English history. Our personal favourites are Belton House, Kedleston Hall, Hardwick Hall and Calke Abbey. Don’t forget to swing by their Tea Rooms to sample another British classic, the “Cream Tea”- a Pot of Tea served with Scones, Clotted Cream and Jam.
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