‘Come on, come on, come on, come on, let me entertain you…’ Stoke’s favourite son, Robbie Williams, said it best. Or, sang it, rather. There’s a huge range of entertainment options for you to choose from in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, including theatre in the round, two Football League clubs, and a couple of cult music venues that are full of surprises.
Entertainment in Stoke-on-Trent
If you fancy a bit of culture during your stay in Stoke-on-Trent, you can take your pick from three particularly excellent theatres to see a show. First up, there’s the Regent Theatre, which takes pride of place at the heart of the Cultural Quarter in Hanley, just a 10-minute walk from our Stoke-on-Trent (Hanley) hotel. The former super cinema first opened in the 1920s before being fully restored into a 1,600-seat Art Deco theatre and given a grand reopening by the Queen in 1999. Thanks to its size and state-of-the-art facilities, it welcomes the very best when it comes to opera, dance, drama and musicals, notably bringing shows straight from Broadway and the West End.
Your second option is Victoria Hall, which you’ll find just around the corner on Bagnall Street. When it was built in 1888 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the theatre stood as the largest in the city and boasted a whopping capacity of 2,800. It’s since shrunk to 1,467 but still welcomes the likes of Bloc Party, Jools Holland, Jason Manford, and Joe Lycett.
To round off our top trio, we need to make the short trip to Newcastle-under-Lyme, where you’ll find the New Vic Theatre. It’s a theatre in the round, which means that the stage is completely surrounded by an audience of just over 600. If you’ve never seen a theatre in the round production before, the New Vic is the perfect place to start; it’s revered as one of the best places in the UK to see this ancient form of theatre. Its programme blends in-house productions with those of touring companies, so it’s well worth seeing what’s on during your time in Stoke-on-Trent, particularly if you’re staying with us at our Newcastle-under-Lyme hotel.
Stoke-on-Trent is one of the smallest cities in the country to boast two Football League clubs. Despite the fact it’s been over 25 years since they last played in the same division, there’s no love lost between both sets of rival supporters.
The most popular and successful of the two clubs is Stoke City, who play at the bet365 Stadium, roughly in the middle of our three Stoke-on-Trent hotels. ‘The Potters’ are the second oldest club playing in the Football League, having been founded in 1863, and their rich history is intertwined with legends of the game, such as Sir Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks, and Jonathan Walters.
Your other option is a trip to Vale Park to see the mighty Port Vale play their home matches. They have the misfortune of holding the record for the most seasons in the English Football League without reaching the top flight. Their time will come, though and when it does, famous fans such as Robbie Williams, Jonathan Wilkes, and Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor will be among the first to celebrate.
Last but not least, let’s talk music. If you want to catch a gig during your stay in Stoke-on-Trent, then make your way to The Sugarmill in Hanley. It’s easy to find and right next door to Portofino, an institution when it comes to places to eat in Stoke-on-Trent. The Sugarmill is part of the national ‘toilet circuit’ of venues, which – despite the name – is a good thing. Most of the country’s cities feature on the toilet circuit; they are the intimate, independent venues that often attract the latest up and coming bands. To give you an idea of the calibre of artists we’re talking about, over the years, The Sugarmill has welcomed the likes of Coldplay, Muse, Foals, Kasabian and The National. See who’s playing during your stay; you never know, they could be the next big thing.
If you take everything we’ve just said about The Sugarmill, whack it in a pot, turn the heat up, and boil it down, you’ll be left with something like The Underground. It’s a cult live music venue in Stoke-on-Trent thanks to its proclivity for booking big names despite its DIY aesthetic and tiny capacity. One night you can visit for an intimate evening of live music, the next can be a cauldron of chaos. That’s part of the charm of The Underground; you never know what to expect. There was even a slew of secret gigs by Pete Doherty and Babyshambles, which live long in the memory for those lucky enough to get a ticket.