1. Get Lost for an afternoon at Rare & Racy
Tired of the same old, cookie-cutter high street shops? Get a solid dose of the unusual on Devonshire Street, at Rare & Racy. Art, records, books, fanzines, and all manner of odd and unusual items can be found there. You’ll bathe in loud jazz as you immerse yourself in whatever takes your fancy.
2. Munch Down on a Béres pork sandwich
After the shop you’ll be ready for a bite to eat, and you won’t find better than a big, roast pork sandwich from Béres. Fifty years of experience tells you something about the quality and popularity of the place, and even more about commitment to a good thing. They have nine locations in the city, and any of them is worth a visit.
3. Take a trip up on the paternoster lift at the Arts Tower
Holding its place as the tallest university building in the UK, the Arts Tower sits atop a hill and commands some great views of the city – but first you have to get to the top. The tower makes use of one of the largest remaining paternoster lifts. Paternoster lifts don’t stop moving, so you’ll have to hop on when it is level with your floor, and hop off when it reaches the top floors.
4. Be a cinephile!
The Showroom Cinema prides itself on providing a wide array of cinematic offerings, not just the usual Hollywood blockbusters and the odd art house flick. Special events abound – like the Martin Scorsese-curated Polish cinema event, or the kids club films, the midnight showings of cult favourites, or even certain films played along with pertinent discussions with professors.
There are other venues and groups as well, like the Girl Gang, the Five and Dime Picture Show, and the Magic Lantern and Handmade Cinema Clubs. These take place all around the city at a variety of locations, including Sheffield University’s Film Unit which screens second-run films at prices starting as low as £1.50, and the Picture House Social with its 24-seat mini cinema in the basement bar.
5. Relax at the Winter Gardens
The city is vibrant and bustling – not a place in general for quiet reflection – but in the heart of the city centre lies the Winter gardens, a lovely spot to rest and contemplate… whatever it is you need to contemplate. The Millennium Galleries are right next to it as well, so once you are calm and centred, you can take a look at some excellent art.
6. Become a beer geek
It may already be five years since the New York Times chose Sheffield as one of the best places in the world to find good beer, but the local brewing – and drinking – culture is still going strong. Traditional pubs with big fireplaces and hunched-over old men cuddling up to their pints can still be found, as can trendy craft beer houses or more upscale bars with excellent offerings, in bottles or on tap.
7. Go waterskiing
What?! No, really: Waterskiing.
Rother Valley Park is home to all kinds of watersport opportunities, from waterskiing and wakeboarding on the cable course, to boating and fishing. If land is more your thing, take a bike ride, a walk or run, or even do some archery or horseback riding. But maybe not archery and horseback riding at the same time…
8. Visit the Sharrow Lantern Carnival
There aren’t too many city-wide festivals or events anymore, but Sheffield is one of the places that keeps one alive and well: The Sharrow Lantern Carnival. Each year has its own theme and most of the city turns out with lanterns of all description. Thousands of participants and spectators crowd the streets and the mood is one of fun and wonder.
9. Checkout the markets
Buying or simply taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the place, spots like Moor Market, Nether Edge, the Abbeydale Food and Produce Market, and the Peddler Market are all great places to stock up on ambiance and maybe an item or two. Check the particular markets against the time of year to make sure they’re running, and be sure to check out the many travelling markets that might be in town while you’re there too.
10. Explore the brutalism
Brutalism is a term applied to a certain tone of architecture. Sturdy, powerful, and usually stone-grey buildings built for hard practicality, rather than aesthetic, examples can be found all over Sheffield, from the ruined factories of yesteryear to the busy housing estates that are still in use today (such as Park Hill). Some people love them, others loathe them, but everyone seems to have a strong opinion once they see them. Take a look. Find out yours.
11. Go and see local galleries / art spaces
Brutalist buildings aside, Sheffield does not lack in art and beauty. Galleries and art spaces can be found throughout the city. Parties, events and expeditions which feature local art and artists – as well as noteworthy practitioners from further afield – are common. The best places to look for information on upcoming events include the Site Gallery, Bloc, Yorkshire Artspace, SIA, Bank Street Arts, A Month of Sundays, APG Works, The Hide, S1 and B&B.
12. Adventure in the Peak District
In less than half an hour by car, you can be in some of the best scenery England has to offer, and once within it you can walk, find a great pub, cycle, grab an outdoor meal, or even try some wild swimming at one of the areas excellent spots. Whatever you like to do, you can do it in the beauty of the Peak District.
The Kinder Downfall frozen is a fantastic thing to see in the Peak District.
13. Explore the Nichols Building
Located in what was once a tea and coffee roaster’s – almost two hundred years ago – is a market centre that holds a bit of everything. The place is big enough to spend hours there, combing through all manner of items from toys and antiques to vintage clothing and records. You won’t always find what you want, but you might just find what you need.
14. Taste the local produce
Some of the local delicacies and specialty producers include Henderson’s Relish, Our Cow Molly Ice Cream and Milk, Sheffield Honey, Catherine’s Choice, Seven Hills Bakery, Cafeology, Moss Valley Fine Meats, and a host of other businesses there to offer you the best of what Sheffield – and in some cases only Sheffield – has to offer.
15. Visit a festival
Sheffield’s roster of festivals is perhaps headlined by the Tramlines Music Festival that takes over the city – in a good way – but there are others too. The Sensoria Festival lasts nine days and is filled with musical performances, screenings, love scores and other events. Once of the largest documentary festivals in the world, Doc/Fest, is held in Sheffield. There is a festival of words called Off the Shelf that lasts almost a month. Every two years three is The Festival of the Mind, a rich blend of academia, art and culture. If you prefer something quite different, Celluloid Screams is an annual horror film festival. There is even a festival dedicated to entrepreneurship, called Made. There are smaller festivals such as Sharrow and Peace in the Park, and of course, an annual food festival.
16. Have a Picnic in the park
Sheffield is a green city, with eighty public parks – impressive enough – backed up by another 650 green and open spaces. You’ll be able to find a place to picnic in almost any corner of the city, or right in the centre. Need a suggestion to get you started? No problem. Try Meersbrook Park. The views over the city will give your eyes a feast too.
17. Enjoy the Botanical Gardens
The plants are interesting to see and to learn about, and there is even more there if you or someone in your party isn’t into horticulture. The Gardens host other activities like music and art events, plant sales, and you can even take a look at a real 19th-century bear pit! It’s a Grade II listed historical site, and is still full of… well, squirrels mostly.
18. Check out the many museums
The most traditional museum in Sheffield is the Western Park, and it’s worth a look of course, but there are other, specialist museums in the area too. The Alfred Denny Museum of Zoology is not only a unique museum, it also has a unique set of opening hours. It is only open once a month, in the morning, and requires advanced booking! Worth it though; it’s really interesting. There is also the National Emergency Services Museum and, if you like the idea of a bit of history discussion over a pint, the Kelham Island Museum is surrounded by a wide offering of pubs.
19. Wander around the Antiques Quarter
It’s called the Antiques Quarter, for the obvious reason that it’s a great place to buy antiques, but there is more going on there than old knick-knacks and expensive furniture. Vintage shops can be found there, as well as bars, cafés and restaurants, bookshops, record shops, and more.
20. Visit the theatre
For a traditional theatre experience, you can choose from the Lantern, Merlin, Crucible, Montgomery and Lyceum theatres. The theatre Delicatessen is a bit less traditional, housed in the huge space that used to be Woolworths, this venue is a multi-platform art space that offers immersive theatre, film screenings, club nights, and musical performances. The café area is accessible from the Moor shopping area – and is licenced.
21. Go and see the alpacas!
What?! Yup, the Mayfield Alpaca Farm lets you get up close to these interesting beasties, as well as many others. Llamas, reindeer, wallabies, rheas, farm animals, exotic birds and even meerkats are in residence and waiting for you visit.
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