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Things to do in Derby UK

The location of Derby is in Derbyshire, situated in the East Midlands region of the United Kingdom. There are several fun things to do in Derby. Whether you prefer vibrant city life or you like to stroll out into the Derbyshire countryside, Derby offers an array of exciting activities to suit all tastes. Derby has a vast amount of history and culture that is waiting to be explored. 

Derby University explains the history of Derby dating back two thousand years, with evidence of Roman occupation found throughout the area. However, it was around the 1700’s that Derby began to flourish, thanks to its strategic location on the banks of the River Derwent. In 1717, the iconic Derby Silk Mill was created – the world’s first water powered silk mill. Today this mill still stands as a testament to Derby’s thriving history. It revolutionised industries such as textiles and engineering, laying the foundations for modern industrial society.

In the present day, Derby is a hub of innovation and growth, being home to the famous Rolls Royce Engineering Company and Toyota’s largest European manufacturing plant. In this article, I will take you along with me as we explore the top things to do in Derby City, sharing insider tips along the way.

Things to do in Derby

Enjoy Derby Cathedral

Derby Cathedral dates back to the 16th century and it has been a beautiful statement for the city ever since. If you are visiting Derby, then the Cathedral is a must visit attraction for several reasons. You can visit the Cathedral every day for free to marvel at its magnificent architecture, stained glass windows and intricate interior. 

I love to attend the events that they regularly hold there. They have a varied events calendar throughout the year showcasing exhibitions, concerts and theatrical performances. My favourite is the Concerts by Candlelight where orchestras play in the grand hall of the cathedral surrounded by hundreds of flickering candles. It is a truly breathtaking experience. 

Wander Along the Banks of the River Derwent

One of my favourite pastimes in Derby is taking a leisurely stroll along the picturesque River Derwent. The soothing sound of flowing water and the scenic views provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxing afternoon. The River Derwent sprawls throughout the city, weaving in and out of buildings and parks for miles and beyond.

An area to highlight specifically is Darley Abbey. Walk through Darley Abbey Park along the river, where you will be surrounded by trees and acres of greenery. You will forget you are so close to the city centre. You can even finish off your walk by heading to Darley Abbey Mills and enjoying a bite to eat or drink on one of the many restaurant river terraces. Do not forget to enjoy the view of the historic mills and the famous weir. 

Take a Trip to the Peak District

Alternatively, you can take a trip out deeper into Derbyshrie. Derbyshire’s countryside is some of the most beautiful in the whole of the UK. Just a stone’s throw away from Derby lies the breathtaking beauty of the Peak District National Park. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on an adventure through rolling hills, deep valleys and charming villages. From challenging trails to scenic drives, the Peak District offers endless opportunities for outdoor exploration and unforgettable experiences. 

Some areas that I have personally hiked and visited that I can recommend include, Chatsworth, Bakewell, Mam Tor, Heights of Abraham, The Stepping Stones and Thorpe Cloud.

Hiking up Thorpe Cloud

Discover Derby’s Thriving Food Scene

As a self confessed foodie, I can attest to the eateries that await in Derby. Whether you are craving traditional British pub grub or international cuisine, the city boasts an array of restaurants and cafes to satisfy every palate. 

Derby also holds the thriving Bustler Market every last weekend of the month in the Chocolate Factory. This fun street food experience hosts a variety of street food trucks alongside a bar, live music and more fun activities. On top of this, they also hold annual events such as Wing Fest and a Beer Festival. 

Experience Derby’s Nightlife

As the sun sets, Derby comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene that caters to all tastes and preferences. Whether you are sipping cocktails in a chic bar, dancing the night away in a lively club, or catching live music at a cosy pub, there is no shortage of entertainment options.

I enjoy the independent bars and restaurants that are dotted along Sadler Gate, Friar Gate and Iron Gate. For example, head over to Bunk which is a fun cocktail bar that has good music and light bites such as chicken wings. The Mixing House has a huge drinks list, tapas style food and a roof top terrace. If you prefer somewhere that is more chilled out, then head to Bear. This is a cafe bar that has a laid back style that opens late on the weekends. 

Enjoy Derby’s Sporting Scene

With a proud sporting heritage, Derby is the perfect destination for sports enthusiasts. You can catch a match at Pride Park Stadium, home to Derby County Football Club. There is also Derby Arena where you can watch thrilling sports such as cycling, athletics and more. Whatever your sporting passion, you are sure to find plenty of opportunities to get involved.

Explore Derby Museums and Galleries

If you are looking for further activities in Derby, you can explore a number of Derby museums and art galleries. For example, the Derby Museum and Art Gallery boast a huge array of stunning artworks, sculptures and interactive exhibits that showcase the rich history and culture that the city has to offer. As previously mentioned you can also visit the Derby Silk Mill, the site of the world’s first water powered factory. Also called the Museum of Making you can learn all about the history behind the making of Derby. 

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