From Premier League football to a Victorian manor and gardens, there’s more to Wolverhampton than meets the eye. Here is Culture Trip’s list of the best things to do in this West Midlands city, including visiting spectacular manors, an independent cinema, nature reserves and one of the country’s oldest breweries.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are on the up. Following their promotion to the Premier League they’ve managed to attract some top-class players and are holding their own in the big league. However, with these good performances comes a massive increase in popularity. There are various eligibility criteria, and with season-ticket holders bagging in-demand tickets, tickets can be difficult to get hold of if you’re not a Wolves fan. If match day isn’t your thing, why not visit the Wolves Museum, or try a stadium tour to take a look behind the scenes?
Providing good beer to the people of Wolverhampton since 1875, Banks’s Brewery is one of the longest-running cask ale breweries in the country. On a brewery tour, beer lovers can discover how Banks make their signature ales, learn about the fermentation process and even try some beer at the end of the tour. Like what you taste? Make sure you don’t skip the gift shop.
For those looking to delve into the history and heritage of Wolverhampton, this walking trail will be right up your street. It covers around 1.6km (one mile) of the city’s most important sights, and you’ll be able to spot the city’s prominent landmarks, including St Peter’s Church and the statue of Prince Albert. More information on the tour, which starts and ends in Queen Square, can be obtained at the city’s Visitor Information Centre or via the city council’s website.
Located right in the centre of the city, Wolverhampton Art Gallery houses more than 300 years of art. Open since 1884, this free-to-enter gallery showcases everything from local history and Old Master paintings to fossils and archaeological collections. Black Country aficionados will be in their element at the gallery’s shop, which stocks contemporary collections by local artists and craftspeople. Wolverhampton Art Gallery is child-friendly and regularly hosts events for all the family.
Wolverhampton is the proud home of the 1,200-capacity Grand Theatre, a Grade II-listed building that opened in 1894. Theatre enthusiasts in the West Midlands will be able to watch some of the most internationally renowned touring plays here. The Grand Theatre, which hosted Charlie Chaplin in 1902 and Winston Churchill in 1909, also hosts live music, comedy and pantomimes.
Those looking for something a little less city-centred should look no further than Wightwick Manor and Gardens. Situated just a 15-minute drive from Central Wolverhampton, this National Trust estate is home to a beautiful Victorian timber-framed manor that houses a fantastic collection of Pre-Raphaelite art. The manor, which gives a nod to British textile designer William Morris with its rich tapestries and threads, is flanked by 5.7ha (14 acres) of magnificent woodland and gardens, which are ideal for escaping the non-stop city life.
Housed in former military aircraft hangars, RAF Museum Cosford is one of two major RAF museums in the country. With a huge variety of aircraft from the previous century on display, you will be amazed at the engineering feats on offer. Outside of the aircraft though, the museum also tells the story of the men and women who flew them, with exhibition pieces detailing the lives of the pilots and tales of their wartime bravery.
Founded in the 1950s with the sole objective to make the perfect rose, the David Austin rose gardens haven’t diverted from that mission since. Now spread over five dedicated gardens and featuring over 700 species of roses, the colourful gardens are definitely not to be missed on your next visit to the Black Country. If you’re looking to take some home with you, the gardens have a dedicated team to help you pick out the perfect flowers for you.
Originally set among the Himley Estate, Baggeridge Country Park is 61ha (150 acres) of glorious parkland, with an abundance of wildlife that calls it home. Built on a former colliery on the edge of the Black Country, the area was developed by famed landscaper Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and is now one of the best green spaces in the area. The park has a range of outdoor activities available, with horse trekking, fishing and bike trails all on offer.
Covering 10.5 ha (26 acres) in the nearby town of Dudley, the Black Country Living Museum is an immersive open-air experience that lands you right in the middle of the area’s history. With the region being one of the first to be industrialised in the country, the museum has meticulously recreated houses, shops and factories from the early 20th century and gives guests a chance to experience first-hand what life was like back.
A relatively new addition to Wolverhampton’s entertainment scene, Virtuality offers guests a whole new experience using the latest VR technology. With over 100 different games for you and your friends to try, including a zombie apocalypse, sci-fi shooters and futuristic racing, there’s no shortage of out-of-this-world adventures to take part in. With reasonable pricing and group bookings available, this is the perfect weekend activity for you and your friends.
Just a short trip outside of Wolverhampton, the Canal Tunnel and Limestone Mines offer guests a unique insight into both the recent and ancient history of the region. Taking a seat on a riverboat, this relaxing tour will give you a water-side view of the highways and byways of the local canal system, as well as offering a close-up view at some genuine fossils, buried into the former limestone mines.
A short 10-minute drive outside of Wolverhampton city centre will bring you to the pretty Northycote farm and Country Park. Featuring a nearly 400-year-old farmhouse, the farm is still active today, with plenty of pigs, chickens and sheep making full use of the grounds. The perfect spot for a relaxed Sunday stroll, the farm has picturesque woodland to explore and a delightful tea room to take a quick break in.
Great for kids and adults alike, the Potsy Pamsy Paint A Pot Studio offers visitors a hands-on creative experience. Set inside it’s vibrant studio, the centre has a number of classes to get involved in, from pottery painting, clay imprints and the very popular Pottery & Prosecco. If you’re looking for a fun alternative day out or something creative to do with the kids, this should definitely be one to consider.
A working farm in Essington since 1852, the Essington Fruit Farm continues operating to this day, with plenty of quality fruit and veg produced every day. The farm is open for guests to visit and even take part in the fruit picking, with the pumpkin patch especially popular in the autumn months. Not only that, the farm has a fully stocked deli, butchers and restaurant, offering customers the freshest produce and foods around.
The Wild Zoological Park is a haven of natural education and ecological conservation in the Wolverhampton area. With a mission to teach visitors about the weirder and wilder animals that the world has to offer, the park features five different areas dedicated to some of the most endangered species, such as the electric blue gecko, black-tufted marmosets and bare-eyed cockatoos.
For those looking for more high-octane action, the Wolverhampton Speedway is a great destination. Housed in the Ladbroke Stadium and home to the Wolverhampton Wolves Speedway Team, the race track has plenty of events on the calendar. Brilliant for an evening out or a work event, the stadium has reasonably priced in-house food and a bar – great for a respite between races.
A creative hub slap bang in the middle of Wolverhampton, the Newhampton Arts Centre (or the NAC as it’s more widely known), is a haven for artistic endeavours. Home to over 30 creatives, including musicians, actors and artists, home-grown events are hosted here throughout the year. With a fully fledged theatre, music studio and gallery space, there’s no shortage of local talent to discover in the centre.
Set among 50ha (124 acres) of pristine woodland, the Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve makes for a great opportunity to get some fresh air in the Wolverhampton area. Featuring a number of activities such as cycling down a former railway, there is plenty to do to while away the hours. Outside of activities however, the park has a wide selection of flora and fauna, as a number of rare flowers and over 55 bird species call the nature reserve home.
Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham
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