Thanks to its history and culture, Nottingham boasts some of the best art galleries, exhibitions, museums and events in the country. We’ve picked our favourites below.
Culture in Nottingham
Attracting quarter of a million visitors each year, the Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery was opened in 2009 and is located on the edge of The Lace Market district, less than 10 minutes’ walk from our Nottingham Arena hotel. The 3,000 square metre building cost £20 million and is home to exhibition spaces, workshops, film screenings, live bands, dance shows and more. The gallery, shop and café are open Tuesday to Sunday and regularly rotate their main exhibitions; past themes include exploring the Arab art world, sound installations and more.
Housed in Nottingham Castle which dates back to 1067 and the reign of William The Conqueror, the Nottingham Castle Art Gallery was established in the 19th century and is not only a great place to explore the castle and its intricate cave systems, but also learn the castle’s amazing history via the Transformation Project. The first-floor gallery holds work from a range of international, national and regional artists with over 100 artworks on display at any one time, drawn from its collection of over 800 oil paintings and 4,000 watercolours, sculptures and more. Alongside that, they rotate their guest exhibitions each year spanning fine art, ceramics, pottery, jewellery and more.
Rounding out the selection is Lakeside Arts Centre, a multi-purpose arts venue that houses plays, live bands, workshops and an impressive selection of art. Spanning a wide range of subjects and encompassing various media, it includes 651 items and exhibits spread throughout the venue.
Castle and Museum
Castle Art Gallery
An annual fair held every October and dating back to the 1400s, the Nottingham Goose Fair descends on the Forest Recreation Ground on the edge of the city centre, less than a mile away from our City Centre (Goldsmith Street) hotel. The four-day Goose Fair started life as a trade event but has turned into a carnivalesque party with dozens of fairground rides, stalls, food outlets and more. If you’re after adrenaline-fuelled rides, good food, games and artisanal stalls, the Goose Fair comes highly recommended. Just remember to scream if you want to go faster!
Another annual affair, Splendour Festival is an all-ages music event in the grounds of Wollaton Park held every July. Running since 2008, the one-day festival gives local acts and bands a platform to perform on, with local stars like Jake Bugg a regular alongside headline acts including Dizzee Rascal, The Kaiser Chiefs and The Human League.
Rounding out the selection is the Nottingham Riverside Festival, a free three-day celebration held every August on the Victoria Embankment on the edge of the River Trent. A mix of street food, fairground rides, live music and theatre, the pinnacle of the festival is a jaw-dropping fireworks display held on the Saturday that can be seen from across the city. Watch out for the dragon boat challenge, duck race and the steam engines, with shuttle buses taking people to and from the city centre during the festival.
With an imposing outlook across the city, Nottingham Castle dominates much of the area, and with roots that date back centuries, it’s the ideal place for a fascinating museum. Founded in 1878, the Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery is home to an impressive range of fine arts including costumes, glass, jewellery and thousands of paintings, with up to 200 displayed at any one time. Due to the city’s impressive lace history – head to the Lace Market, a fashionable area of town, afterwards – the museum takes you back in time to when Nottingham led the way in lace production.
Make sure to visit the Museum of Nottingham Life as well, for a fascinating tour of five 17th century cottages that uses everything from toys to tools to illustrate a day in the life of a Nottingham worker.
A working site, the Framework Knitters Museum in Ruddington – less than a mile from our Nottingham South hotel – recounts the rich knitting history in the region. Located in a 19th century knitters’ yard, the museum takes you through its development over 400 years including the Industrial Revolution, workers riots and how framework knitting inspired Nottingham’s lace industry.
Finally, the Nottingham Industrial Museum takes another work-based look back at the city and its industrial expansion.
Located in the 17th century stables of Wollaton Hall, 15–20 minutes’ drive from our Nottingham West hotel, it’s a fascinating mix of textile machinery, technology, lace-making equipment and – for the steam engine enthusiasts out there – a fully operational Beam Engine.