Nottingham gained international recognition as a centre of textiles during the Industrial Revolution, and was particularly known for its lace production. The lace market, which can still be visited today, is a striking example of 19th century industrial architecture. Renovation projects have restored the district, and while it is no longer used for fabric production, the area is still a thriving part of Nottingham's community.
The city is perhaps best known for the gallantry of Robin Hood and his merry band of men, who are rumoured to have had a merry old time in Nottingham - the base from which they robbed the rich, fed the poor, and fought against injustice and tyranny. Today there are references to the local celebrity throughout the city in the form of museums, statues and stories...
The Arts Council decided to pay particular attention to Nottingham a few years ago, which resulted in the launch of many small artists initiatives and galleries, mainly fuelled by graduates of Nottingham Trent University's fine art course. Nottingham is gradually building up a rich cultural scene to combat its poor reputation. Students at the city's reputable art schools have recognised its potential, and many choose to stay post-studies, contributing to local events and the renewal of Nottingham's image. In short, Nottingham is on its way up!
Visit nearby Wollaton Park to feed ducks and see deer running free in the grounds of the extravagant manor house, Wollaton Hall. The house was built for Sir Francis Willoughby in order to impress Queen Elizabeth 1st, but ironically she never visited it. Impress your romantic interest with a lavish picnic in the enchanting grounds!
Nottingham Contemporary is Nottingham's newest art gallery. Housed in a suitably contemporary shell that fits effortlessly into the surrounding lace market quarter, the gallery runs a series of 3 month exhibitions as well as workshops, talks and video screenings. Four large galleries house contemporary works including sculpture, video and photography works.
The old market square, in central Nottingham, is beautiful in summer, when people picnic and kids play in the big fountain.
Walk up the cobbled streets to the city's castle. Even if you don't go inside to see the Robin Hood collection and the contemporary gallery, you'll have wonderful views over the whole of the city and its outskirts. The beautifully kept castle gardens merit a picnic on a sunny day, flowed by a stop at the castle's resident ice cream van.
See a film at The Screen Room, which, with just 21 seats, claims to be the smallest cinema in the world! The miniature movie house can be found in Hockley, which is also home to the vast majority of Nottingham's unique, independent shops.
Visit Nottingham in late July to coincide with Nottingham Splendour Festival. This year's festival will be held at Wollaton Park on 24th July.
Nottingham is served by direct trains from London twice an hour, which take 1h45. The city is also well linked to the Northern cities, with direct hourly services to Manchester and Liverpool. For cash-strapped travellers, take the Megabus, which runs services from London at bargain prices.
Nottingham is a university city, which means there's a lot to choose from come nightfall. Avoid generic clubs such as Ocean and Oceana, and instead go to The Maze (Mansfield Road), which plays an eclectic mix of gypsy, Balkan and folk music!
Avoid Goose Fair, an annual fun fair held in Nottingham during the first week of October. The fair tends to be packed, rowdy and overpriced.
Nottingham struggles with a reputation for binge drinking and drugs killings. Bypass the city's suburbs, some of which are associated with gang crime.
A bustling farmers market takes to the Old Market Square on the 3rd Friday and Saturday of each month between 9am and 4pm. Pick up some delicious local cheese, fruit and veg, and even ostrich burgers...!
Not traditionally Nottinghamshire but highly recommended, Audrey's Traditional Creperie is a sweet cafe serving homemade crepes. The owner, who trained in Brittany, changes her menus regularly, and serves up serve Breton cider alongside mouthwatering gallettes (savoury pancakes). The café proves popular amongst locals, and also attracts a large number of homesick French tourists.
Bring back some fluorescent nylon vintage bargains from Nottingham's Vintage Warehouse, where everything is a pound.
If you're looking for some more conventional gifts, the castle has a well-stocked gift shop with plenty of postcards and Robin Hood souvenirs to choose from!