Student cities: studying in Sheffield
Sheffield is a green and friendly place. It has the highest ratio of trees to people of any European city and one third of it is within the Peak District National Park. Newcomers to the city are also often surprised by its size: it’s the fourth largest city in the UK.
The city has seen a lot of regeneration but not so much as to change its reputation for community spirit and being relatively affordable. It boasts 30 cinema screens, 70 music venues and a knife with 2,000 blades on display in the Kelham Island Museum. You might expect the latter from a city that was built around the steel industry.
Free and cheap stuff to do in Sheffield
Do you like festivals? Sheffield has lots… an international documentary film festival called Sheffield Doc/Fest; Off the Shelf (‘a festival of words’); Sheffield Adventure Film Festival; Sheffield Food Festival; Peace in the Park music festival; Sensoria (a festival of music, film and digital arts); and Festival of the Mind, a celebration of the cerebral hosted by the University of Sheffield in collaboration with the city’s creative community. Sheffield Hallam University has Catalyst – a year-long programme of community events, many of which feature students of fashion or games design.
The big music event is in July – the three-day Tramlines Festival, which books the kind of international stars you might expect to see at Glastonbury. Its 2016 line-up included Dizzee Rascal, The Dandy Warhols, George Clinton, Kelis, Jurassic 5, and Catfish and the Bottlemen. The main difference between this and other big music festivals is Tramline costs around £30 for the whole weekend.
And if you stay in the Sheffield area over the summer there are no fewer than 19 other local music, arts and crafts fairs to keep you going.
There are lots of green strolling spaces including the Round Walk, on which you can jump over streams and feed the ducks and alpacas too.
And you’re never far from a hill. The meadows, dales and high ground of the Peak District National Park are a 20-minute bus ride away from the city centre. Should even that distance deter you, watch the British Bouldering Championships, which take place an outdoor wall within the city.
If the heavens open or if it’s just a bit chilly, the Winter Garden is housed in one of the largest glasshouses in the UK. Or head to one the city’s museums. In particular, Kelham Island Museum and Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet reflect Sheffield’s industrial past, when most work was manual, sweaty and sometimes brutal.
Theatre Delicatessen is a novel theatre group that works with commercial property owners to turn empty buildings into spaces for performance. Its events are around £5. Bank Street Arts is a contemporary arts centre and runs a series of literary events throughout the year. Many of these are free to attend.
Sheffield has a huge out-of-town shopping centre, so it doesn’t offer a big city centre shopping experience. However, it does have a number of shopping quarters and markets.
Devonshire Quarter is full of character and cafés offering thali (Indian) dishes, specialist bhajis and Mexican food, among other cuisines. The Quarter is noted for clothes stores although its most famous shop is Rare & Racy, which is a trove of books, records, old maps and prints.
Peddler Night Market occurs the first weekend of each month and pops up in various locations. Live bands play at the market, filling the air with sounds that mingle with the smells of street food. Chefs from The Hip Hop Chip Shop sometimes make an appearance, cooking battered gherkins and halloumi cheese and fries.
London Road is one of the most multicultural areas of Sheffield and its shops reflect the fact.
The Lyceum, Studio Theatre and the Crucible are the city’s main theatres and are all part of the Sheffield Theatres complex. The Crucible doubles as a venue for the World Snooker Championship.
Sheffield City Hall is the place for classical music but the city is known for its rock, pop and indie scene and often tops music magazine NME’s poll of top UK cities for music. Its readers have often voted Sheffield’s Leadmill best music venue. It’s helped launch many a career, the Arctic Monkeys for instance. The Leadmill is just one of the city’s traditional indie music clubs but those are being joined by some newer, smoother venues such as Forward and Viper.
Sheffield has a good range of pubs too; here are just a few.
The Swim Inn is based in a converted Victorian swimming pool. The Frog and Parrott is a traditional boozer that’s also quirky and fashionable. The Riverside, as its name suggests, is a watering hole by the River Don, and has an excellent beer garden. It also has street art on its walls depicting a giant squid attacking a boat. The graffiti is by a local artist with the punk name Phlegm.
If you’re looking for work experience
Sheffield’s economy is diversifying but manufacturing still plays a strong part in it. The city is a major centre for retail.