Ask, and Nottingham provides. The city’s reputation is legendary – here’s some seasonal secrets, to help get you started.
Date: Saturday 10 – Sunday 11 March
Why? Because it’s Nottingham, and you’ve got to do at least one Robin Hood-themed thing while you’re here. Visit the days of yore – there’s live jousting, archery, wandering musicians, and falconry. Nottingham Castle is transformed into a medieval village, costumed actors never break character, and it’s hard not to get into ye olde spirit.
Date: Sunday 27 May
With Manchester and Birmingham conquered, Dot to Dot arrives in Nottingham. It’s the indie showcase for new talent, with last year’s acts including Same Streets, stunning vocalist Georgie and alt-rock band Eyre Llew. Discover a new band, and remind everyone – forever – that you liked them before they were famous. We can't wait for this year's line up to be announced!
Date: Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 May
Unleash the geek-within at Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena – Em-Con is mecca for Nottingham’s sci-fi and fantasy enthusiasts. Guests at the 2018 event will include stars from Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and more. Discover the stories and secrets behind your favourite shows – meet the authors, artists and actors who’ve brought whole worlds to life.
Date: Friday 8 June – Sunday 10 June
OK, so we’re cheating a bit – Donington Park is actually 30 minutes from Nottingham. Download is a rock n’ roll pilgrimage – every year, over 200,000 people travel from across the world for three days of mud, metal, and mayhem. Even if your tastes are normally a little more sedate, it’s well worth the cost of a day ticket – this 72-hour moshpit is truly a sight to behold.
Date: Tuesday 19 June, Thursday 12 July and Saturday 18 to Wednesday 22 August
A quiet evening at the cricket? Not a bit of it –Trent Bridge is one of the world’s noisiest, best-loved grounds, and these one-day fixtures really come to life beneath the floodlights. England come to town for games against Australia and India – enjoy a perfect summer’s night with great food, free-flowing drink, and some very creative chanting from the Barmy Army.
Date: Saturday 21 July
Nottingham’s 20,000-strong music festival returns for its tenth outing. The range of acts is fantastic – there’s big names from past and present, plus the cream of the unsigned crop. Splendour’s the perfect fit for those who like a good time, and a little bit of everything – previous headliners have included Jess Glynne, Calvin Harris, Paulo Nutini, The Specials, Happy Mondays, and Nottingham’s own Jake Bugg. This year, another stunning lineup's being prepared to make the next festival even bigger and better!
Dust off your picnic blanket for Nottingham's season of outdoor theatre. Last year's programme includes performances of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Peter Pan, Great Expectations, Romeo and Juliet, and The Wind In The Willows. Anything goes in this season of dynamic live theatre. So bring a picnic, and a brolly – we can’t guarantee the weather, but we can promise you something a little different to your English GCSE.
Celebrating Nottingham’s LGBT+ community, the annual Pride march brings a rainbow of colour to the city. As awareness and attendances continue to grow, Nottinghamshire Pride are always looking for volunteers to help support their work. It’s a fun day, and an important one – so get yourself involved.
Date: Friday 3 August – Sunday 5 August
The Riverside Festival really captures Nottingham’s cultural diversity – based on the banks of the Trent, there’s an incredible range of food and drink on offer, as well as live music, a fair, street theatre, and global craft stalls, and there’s a spectacular firework display on the Saturday night. A Nottingham institution that’s not to be missed!
A big screen, and the iconic Wollaton Hall – what’s not to like? Famously used as Wayne Manor in the recent Batman films, the picturesque Hall is the perfect setting for this annual outdoor screening – pack yourself a picnic, and enjoy a unique cinematic experience.
Date: Sunday 30 September
Always promised yourself that you’d run a marathon? Promise no longer – you’ll never be younger or fitter, so step up to the challenge, and raise some money for a good cause. Taking in Colwick Park, the River Trent, Victoria Embankment, Nottingham Castle, and Wollaton Park, the course is one of the UK’s prettiest – you might not care after twenty miles, but your friends and family will.
Date: Wednesday 3 – Sunday 7 October
The first, the biggest, and the best – in the Midlands, at any rate. Now over 700 years old, the nationally-famous Goose Fair is one of Europe’s largest travelling attractions, and a local institution. It’s also ushered in the proud Nottingham tradition of ‘Goose Fair Weather’ – the misty moment when autumn’s properly arrived. Giant rides, bright lights, and mushy peas – whether you’re local or not, it’s an absolute must.
Date: Wednesday 17 – Saturday 20 October
A perennial student favourite – this glorious event, taking place at Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena, isn’t just for those who know their IPAs from their stouts, and their scrumpies from their Strongbows. The Campaign for Real Ale work hard to spread the word about real ale, real cider, and real pubs – as such, they’re always looking for new taste buds, and new recruits. This event shows off a galaxy of local ales and ciders, with free samples aplenty. What’s more, there’s great food on hand, to soak it all up. Novelty Robin Hood hats and dimple-mugs at the ready.
Ooom-pah-pah – an annual celebration of beer, bratwurst and Bavaria, Oktoberfest is the stuff of worldwide legend. Nottingham’s take on this famous festival is typically colourful. As well as some sensational food and drink, there’s an authentic Tyrolean band, covering all of the bierkeller classics – from Zikke Zakke, to the unforgettable Ein Prosit der Genuetlichkeit. Pigtails and lederhosen optional.
Stuffed with comedy clubs, Nottingham’s got a rich stand-up tradition. The Comedy Festival brings the country’s biggest acts to town – whether your tastes are traditional or a little more abstract, there’s something here for everyone. Recent acts have included Billy Connolly, Jerry Sadowitz, Bill Bailey, Patrick Monahan, Alan Davies, Al Murray, Armstrong & Miller, and Reginald D. Hunter. Just make sure you don’t heckle – it never ends well.
Fake snow? Expensive cheese? Wham, Slade, and Mariah Carey, on 24-hour repeat? Check, check, and check – Christmas is coming, and this giant German market is guaranteed to fill you with cheer. There’s an ice rink, a mulled wine hall, stall after stall of sausages, and plenty of other reasons to ditch your Christmas shopping.
Only the Scroogiest of souls doesn’t like a panto, and Nottingham gets two of the very best – last Christmas, Jack and the Beanstalk (the Theatre Royal) will go head-to-head with Aladdin (the Nottingham Playhouse). It’s your perfect chance to get that easily-embarrassed friend up on stage for a bit of a singalong.