Once an industrial giant famous for its steel production, Sheffield is today a prosperous city with more trees per person than any other city in Europe. With the largest theatre complex outside of London and a thriving music scene, this UK city does its best to entertain. From the Millennium Gallery to Chatsworth House, here are the best things to do and see the next time you’re in the Steel City.
The Winter Garden is a large indoor garden displaying over 2,500 species of plants from all over the world. The Winter Garden is housed in the city centre in the largest urban glasshouse in Europe and in one of the largest greenhouses in the UK. The building is 70m (230ft) long, 22m (72ft) high and designed by architectural firm Pringle Richards Sharratt. Largely made out of glass and wood, the building is a sight in itself and has won several awards for design and innovation. Take shelter from the rain, or see the sunlight shine through the many glass panes; admission is free.
As one of Sheffield’s only grade I listed buildings, the Sheffield Cathedral in the city centre is indeed a building of special interest. The construction of a church on the site of the cathedral began in the 12th century, and the cathedral itself was slowly constructed over several centuries. Part of the church has stones dating back to the 13th century, while the lantern tower’s glass panes are examples of abstract art from the 1990s. Visit the Sheffield Cathedral to see the light filter through the coloured glass, take a guided tour and see the swords of the York and Lancaster Regiment displayed in Saint George’s Chapel.
Just outside Sheffield, the Tropical Butterfly House Wildlife and Falconry Centre offers an exotic experience in the middle of the English countryside. Walk through an indoor rainforest and see butterflies, birds, bats, insects and crocodiles, or encounter meerkats, otters, snakes and owls. As Tripadvisor’s number-one Sheffield attraction, the Butterfly House is a popular destination and experience for people of all ages, with everything from birds of prey to free-ranging farm animals. Animal encounter events are held every day, providing a chance for you to get up close and personal with your favourite animal or, perhaps, with your greatest fears.
Kelham Island is a result of industrial endeavours. Created by a diversion of the River Don, Kelham is a manmade island over 900 years old. Kelham Island is today the home of the industrial museum in Sheffield, showcasing and documenting centuries of scientific and industrial innovation in the city. The museum contains reconstructed workshops, functional 19th-century steam engines, a vast photographic collection and numerous artefacts representing a significant industrial history that has an impact on the whole world.
As Sheffield consists of over 61% green space, the city cannot be complete without a proper botanical garden. Displaying more than 5,000 different species of plants, the Sheffield Botanical Gardens span more than 19 acres (8ha) of land and were first opened in 1836. The gardens feature beautiful glass pavilions, as well as an old bear pit and a spectacular main gateway. They host a number of events such as Music in the Gardens, a charity event with live music, and Art in the Garden, an annual arts and crafts festival.
If you’re looking for a quirky corner of the city to find a deal or two, the antiques quarter is definitely worth a visit. Spanning three streets, the quarter has more than 60 shops. With everything from antique knick-knacks to independently run shops and charming cafes, it’s the perfect place to while away a Sunday afternoon. The corner is also home to a number of bars and restaurants, offering a great evening option if you’re out in the city.
Once described as the Borough Market of the North, the Moor Market in Sheffield is a must-visit for any food lovers. Housed inside a beautifully renovated indoor market, the 90-plus independently run stalls offer a huge selection of locally produced foods. With fishmongers, artisan bakers and family-run butchers all on offer, there’s a real authenticity to the produce on sale. If looking at all the tasty morsels on offer makes you a little peckish, however, there’s a wide selection of street food vendors available – perfect for grabbing a bite to eat.
As the name suggests, Heeley City Farm can be found in the Heely district of the city and is home to a wonderful selection of farmyard animals to visit. Run primarily as a community endeavour, the farm has plenty of workshops and volunteering opportunities available to local residents and some of the area’s young people. For visitors, though, the farm is free to enter and is an excellent chance for kids and adults to get up close and personal with some adorable animals.
Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham