A cultural city

If you’re a bit of a culture vulture, Nottingham is teeming with all sorts that will catch your eye. We’re home to large-capacity theatres and lots of smaller stages too, plus gig venues, galleries, museums, cinemas, and plenty more in-between.

A wealth of inspiration

We’ve always been a centre of culture and we’ve got the awards to prove it. In 2015, Nottingham was designated a UNESCO City of Literature – one of only 20 in the world – thanks to our long and diverse literary history. From D H Lawrence to Alan Silitoe and Lord Byron to J M Barrie, many wonderful wordsmiths have called Nottingham home. And we’re sure plenty of creative geniuses of the future will begin their careers at NTU.

You certainly won’t be short of inspiration while you’re here. From Anish Kapoor’s stunning Sky Mirror artwork outside the Nottingham Playhouse to Nottingham’s own Sir Paul Smith’s latest designs to the architectural beauty of the Lace Market, culture and creativity drip from every corner of the city.

Securing the headliners

We might as well start with the big names and the big stage! Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena is a 10,000 capacity venue in the heart of the city that regularly attracts the world’s biggest stars from music, comedy, sports and entertainment.

If you’re looking for a show stopping night out this could well be your first port of call. Acts who have performed at the Motorpoint Arena over the last couple of years include:

  • Simply Red
  • Little Mix
  • X Factor Live Tour
  • McBusted
  • The Prodigy
  • Justin Bieber
  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • Premier League Darts

So whatever your tastes, you’ll find a headliner for your visit to the Arena.

But if music is your thing, you should look beyond the Arena’s welcoming doors – next to acclaimed designers Wolfgang and Heron’s statue in Bolero Square. After all, the city is packed to the rafters with gig venues, from tucked away indie essentials like Jam Cafe, the Bodega and the Chameleon Arts Cafe, to places like the award-winning Rock City and Rescue Rooms, that regularly play host to upcoming acts and chart-toppers alike.

Bands or artists who have performed – or are performing – at Rock City or the Rescue Rooms in 2016 and 2017 include:

  • Rudimental
  • Sleaford Mods
  • We Are Scientists
  • The Rifles
  • The Kooks
  • Primal Scream
  • Busted
Nottingham Contemporary

Museums and galleries

If your ears are ringing or you just fancy a more sedate slice of culture, you’ve got your pick of intriguing museums and art galleries to explore. Starting off with the Nottingham Contemporary, an international art centre in the trendy Lace Market area that is quickly gaining national acclaim and has featured work by artists including:

  • David Hockney
  • Frances Stark
  • Mark Leckey
  • Huang Yong Ping
  • as well as lots of unique exhibitions including Alien Encounters and Nottingham Forest’s European Cup winning story I Believe In Miracles.

Then there’s the New Art Exchange – the largest gallery in the UK dedicated to culturally diverse contemporary visual arts – and the Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery – set in the mansion house that overlooks the city from the top of Castle Rock.

What about Nottingham Gallery – which offers a fresh new outlook on contemporary fine art – or the Fletcher Gate Art Gallery – which describes itself as the centre for original fine art in Nottingham?

Lakeside Arts – A University of Nottingham-run museum and arts centre hosting music, dance, theatre, exhibitions, workshops and talks  – is another one worth checking out.

And we shouldn’t forget Bonington Gallery, NTU’s very own creative centre for showcasing the work of our talented students, as well as touring exhibitions. All of these are located in the heart of the city, and there’s plenty of others to discover off the beaten track.

If you’re after a slightly quirky experience, we can’t recommended the Galleries of Justice highly enough. It’s a must visit during your time at NTU, but be careful, because this award-winning independent museum dedicated to the history of crime and punishment also has a dark side. It’s been voted one of the most haunted buildings in the UK… gulp.

For a more traditional museum experience, visit the Nottingham Industrial Museum or the Natural History Museum at the picturesque Wollaton Hall – a stately home that lies in 500 acres of parkland complete with deer – just a stone’s throw from the centre of town. It’s not haunted – that we know of – but it did serve as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises, so you never know…

Or how about Green’s Windmill? There can’t be many cities in the world still with a fully working windmill in the midst of all the hustle and bustle – but in Nottingham we do things differently. And not only is it a fully functioning mill, it’s also a science centre and museum that honours its former inhabitant George Green, the famous mathematical physicist.

If that's tickled your historical taste buds, you should also check out the brand new National Civil War Museum just a short bus or train ride away in Newark. And we’ve not even mentioned the Museum of Nottingham Life, the D H Lawrence museum, Newstead Abbey, The Workhouse or the National Videogame Arcade.

Yes. You read that right. An entire museum and arcade set over three floors in the middle of the city dedicated to the pure, unbridled joy of video games. And since NTU partners with the Arcade through a company called GameCity, some of you may even be lucky enough to undertake project work here as part of your course. What more could you ask for?

Broadway cinema
Broadway cinema

Stage and screen

Everyone loves a good flick, and whether your preference is for a big Hollywood blockbuster or an indie arthouse slow burner, you’ll find an amazing location for your movie needs in Nottingham.

At the Hollywood end of the scale, Cineworld have a 14-screen cinema complete with IMAX set over two floors in The Cornerhouse just yards from our City Campus, while the recently refurbished Showcase just outside the city centre has 12 screens and fully customisable recliner seating in every screen – so you can lie back and watch in style.

A short walk from the Old Market Square is Broadway, the home of independent cinema in Nottingham. In 2009 it was rated as one of the best cinemas in the world by Total Film magazine, and in 1994 it was where Quentin Tarantino held the British debut for Pulp Fiction. Broadway still has that edge today. It hosts the annual Mayhem Film Festival, and with its lively bar it's a great place for a drink or some food as well.

If you like your cinemas in the art-deco style, The Savoy just outside of town in the popular student area of Lenton will be right up your street. Designed by Reginald Cooper in 1935, it is the only surviving pre-Second World War cinema in Nottingham, and is well priced and perfectly located if you’re on a budget, but still want to soak up all the latest releases. And if you’re going as a couple, try to snap up one of the Savoy’s adorable twin seats!

If you’re a budding thespian or a lover of the stage, you’ll want to swing by the Theatre Royal, which attracts all the latest touring productions – not to mention a good old pantomime at Christmas. And next door you’ll find the Concert Hall, which regularly plays host to artists, musicians, orchestras, comedians and all sorts of other things, even wrestling!

The Nottingham Playhouse
The Nottingham Playhouse

The Nottingham Playhouse also attracts plenty of world-class theatre and comedy to the city, and there’s lots of smaller venues too including the Lace Market Theatre, the Albert Hall and the Nottingham Arts Theatre.

To give you a flavour of the kind of eclectic events these stages attract, here’s just a taster of performances lined up in 2017:

  • The Johnny Cash Roadshow
  • Sue Perkins
  • Balletboyz
  • Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Ruby Wax
  • Guys and Dolls
  • The Crucible

As you can see, there’s something for everyone in Nottingham. We’re proud to be a multicultural, diverse and creative city, and we’re sure you will feel right at home here, whatever your tastes.

A cultural city

Published on 15 September 2017

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