In the heart of England
If your flying into The East Midlands then this page is for you.
For clothes shopping, Nottingham’s the place to be. The city has a great mixture of designer boutiques, local markets and high-street shopping. Lacemaking was a key part of the city’s history, and in the Lace Market visitors will find a heritage area full of independent boutiques such as Debbie Bryan Studio & Shop (18 St Mary’s Gate) which sells jewellery, artworks and textiles. Lovers of designer labels should head for Flannels (34-36 Bridlesmith Gate), while high-street brands can be found at the Victoria Centre. For foodie souvenirs, the Fine Food Market (Market Square), on every third Friday and Saturday of the month, sells exotic meats, regional cheeses, gourmet cakes and excellent pies.
Food & Drink
Both Derby and Nottingham have some excellent restaurants. Go for a smart dinner at Darleys (Darley Abbey Mill), a riverside institution whose menu takes pride in featuring seasonal and local ingredients like Derbyshire beef and has won several accolades. Another option is Nottingham’s two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Sat Bains (Lenton Lane), where diners can wallow in clever flavour combinations and clashing textures through dishes such as duck ‘muesli’ and salt-baked beetroot. Indian food is popular too in the East Midlands area; try Anoki (129 London Road) in Derby for great curries. Derby is also the home of real ale so finish up with a pint at the Exeter Arms pub (Exeter Place).
Nottingham Festival of Words
Aimed at raising the profile of Nottingham’s literary heritage, the Festival of Words is a fortnight of literary discussion: author talks from the likes of AL Kennedy, workshops, and performances around the city. For those seeking an intellectual buzz, this is literary learning at its best.
With fairground rides, explosive fireworks and craft markets all taking place in Nottingham during the two-day festival, this is one for the entire family. Parents can meander around craft and food stalls, while kids try their hand at everything from climbing walls to making artworks.
Y Not Festival
Set in the beautiful Peak District National Park, the Y Not Festival still flies under the radar despite having started in 2005. Its small size means it feels more intimate than the gargantuan Glastonbury, but international acts on the line-up show it punches far above its weight.
Derby Folk Festival
Get your dancing shoes on at this annual knees-up featuring a mixture of local folk bands and acoustic acts. With music filling the town’s various venues, visitors can expect enchanting gigs, raucous singalongs and even a ceilidh!
Nottingham Beer Festival
This annual CAMRA-organised festival boasts the biggest selection of beverages of any beer festival, with over 1,200 ales and ciders available. Set in the grounds of Nottingham Castle, and with additional on-site entertainment and catering, this is a must for any beer lover.
Around the East Midlands area, Derby and Nottingham have good options for accommodation. In Nottingham, seek out Hart’s Hotel (Standard Hill, Park Row), built upon the ramparts of Nottingham Castle. Guests can admire the views over the city and gorge upon delicious meals at the famed restaurant. For something more rustic, 13th-century country lodge Breadsall Priory (Moor Road, Morley), just outside Derby, is perfect – décor may be old fashioned but there are mod-cons aplenty, including a pool, spa, gym and golf course. Budget travellers will like the great-value Lace Market Hotel (29-31 High Pavement), a stylish converted townhouse only 10 minutes’ walk from Nottingham city centre.