Once branded by George Orwell as “the ugliest town in the Old World”, Sheffield’s past and its cultural present are founded on one thing: the steel industry. During the 19th century, Sheffield witnessed explosive growth, the city we see today shaped by its industrial prosperity of old. So its leafy suburbs, for example, were purposely built uphill so that domestic residences would sit above the smog-blanketed centre of foundries and furnaces.
The cutlery works of Sheffield’s past have found a new purpose in driving forward the city’s creative life; many now house galleries, independent shops and artist studios. The museums dotted throughout the city trace the city’s unique industrial heritage and social history. Head to Kelham Island Museum to find out how heavy industry has influenced this incredible city and Weston Park Museum for an insight into the community and politics of the area. Close to the train station, and next door to Sheffield’s much-loved independent cinema Showroom, you’ll find Site Gallery, a superb contemporary art space specialising in moving image, new media and performance.
Additionally, there’s a hugely diverse offering of theatre and performance in Sheffield. Alongside the award-winning Crucible and Lyceum, stand the avant-garde Theatre Deli and independent arts hub DINA. As dramatic as the seven hills it’s built on, the city offers touring productions, dance and opera as well as experimental performance and scratch nights.
With 200 plus parks, woodlands and public gardens Sheffield proudly remains one of the greenest cities in the country. Beautiful and lush, in some incongruous way, due to its industrial heritage: open spaces like the Botanical Gardens were designed to offer Victorian residents a much-needed breath of fresh air.
While other cities bustle between high rises and shopping precincts, Sheffield is a place to pause and look around, whether inwards from its hillsides, over spires, chimneys and curling valleys, or outwards from the city centre, to the breeze and birdsong of the moorland that continues to inspire so many artists, designers and makers.
One of the largest and most successful open studio events outside of London, Open Up Sheffield is taking the party online this year with a diverse range of artists and makers from across the South Yorkshire region opening their practice to the public online.
Join The Pantaloons for a comic adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic in the beautiful open-air surroundings of Sheffield Botanical Gardens.
Open air theatre shows are happening across the north over the next few months – we’ve collated our top picks into a neat guide for you.
Sheffield’s Showroom reopens this month with a film programme ready to remind audiences of what they’ve been missing
Cecil Beaton’s glittering portraits from a golden age are brought together at Millennium Gallery in Sheffield in a major new exhibition direct from the National Portrait Gallery, London.
My Path is an exhibition of work by people in prisons, secure hospital, young offender institution or on probation.
Shining a light on some of Sheffield’s extraordinary artists, theatre-makers and companies – this festival offers the perfect celebratory welcome for audiences returning to the theatre.
Taking place annually in the beautiful surroundings of Sheffield Botanical Gardens, Art in the Gardens is one of the largest outdoor art markets in the North of England.