A busy city with a varied entertainment scene, Derby has a thriving live music scene, a strong theatre community and is home to one of the football league’s founding members, with Derby County dating back to 1888.
Entertainment in Derby
Derby's live music scene is largely split across three busy pubs – The Hairy Dog, The Victoria Inn and The Flowerpot. The Hairy Dog has been putting on bands since 2012 with current acts like Slaves and Sleaford Mods playing their new 400-capacity main room, with smaller bands occupying the intimate 80-capacity space upstairs. Open until 3am at weekends, they also host regular club nights after the bands have finished, playing indie, alternative and rock tunes late into the night
Gastro pub by day and bustling live music venue by night, The Victoria Inn is a 150-capacity space located in Midland Place, on the edge of the city centre near the train station.
Putting on a mix of tribute nights including REM, New Order and Oasis Vs Blur, they also promote plenty of original live music spanning punk, metal, rock, acoustic and indie. With a pounding sound system, full light and laser display and a decent range of ales, spirits and wines, it’s a great place to catch an up-and-coming band or a rare solo set from established chart acts.
Finally, there’s The Flowerpot which we’ve already raved about in our guide to Derby nightlife. Home to an impressive selection of guest ales, the city centre pub has been putting on regular live music nights focused on tribute acts since 1991 including gigs by Fred Zeppelin, Mentallica and Coldplace.
An independent theatre, art gallery and bustling bar, QUAD has quickly become a cultural icon in Derby since launching in 2008. Located in the heart of the essential Cathedral Quarter, at Market Place, QUAD is a three-screen cinema that shows more alternative, underground films alongside more left-field, current blockbusters. Ticket prices are invariably cheaper than at big-name cinema chains, and the food is a cut above thanks to the QUAD café. Serving until 9pm, they do a reasonably priced meal and film deal, while you can also take drinks from the licensed café into the cinema with you. Make sure to check out their rotating exhibitions and art installations, which are usually worth a trip on their own.
Video guide to Derby entertainment
Derby has an impressive theatrical scene and four venues hosting everything from West End musicals, annual pantomimes, stand-up comedy and first-class plays.
If you're interested in seeing a show during your stay in Derby, you'll want to take a look at our dedicated guide to Derby theatre, where you'll find everything you need to know.
If you’re in need of some comic relief, the monthly Funhouse Comedy night runs on the last Friday of every month at The Old Bell, a coaching inn on Sadler Gate that dates back to 1650. Set in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter and just around the corner from our City Centre (Cathedral Quarter) hotel, the Funhouse Comedy sessions bring together four up-and-coming comics housed in the historic Tudor Bar. Each show lasts around two hours with doors open at 7.30pm with the show starting from 8pm.
Alternatively, Funhouse Comedy also run regular nights at the Blessington Carriage, with four different comics charged with finding your funny bone. They run their comedy night on the first Monday of each month, meaning you can get your week and month off to a laughing start.
Larger comics regularly tour through Derby, generally stopping off at the Derby Arena – past guests to the 5,000-capacity stadium have included John Bishop, Russell Brand and Jason Manford.
A state-of-the-art cycling track or velodrome to give it its official name, Derby Arena is a 250m-long track open for bike fans of all ages and abilities. Built using 26 miles of spruce wood from Siberia and over 250,000 nails, the track is up to Olympic standards. Using bikes with no gears or brakes can seem pretty daunting, but there are a variety of lessons and sessions on offer to help get you up to speed which you can book up to four weeks in advance, or you can sit back in the vast dome and catch a competitive race held every Tuesday evening. Derby Arena is also a multi-purpose venue, and regularly hosts pop concerts and stand-up comics as well as badminton and entertainment events.