Chester is a city of opposites. Historic and modern. Bustling and peaceful. Big enough to keep you busy and small enough to get everywhere on foot.
Chester feels like it’s taken the best bits of Britain and packed them all together. There are Roman walls, medieval streets and Dickensian houses. There are parks, canals and a river that flows through England and Wales. There are olde-world taverns where the landlords still ring time, and there are master mixologists that keep the party going all night. It’s cosy and off the beaten track, but it’s also easy to get to from the rest of the UK and within easy reach of international airports in Liverpool and Manchester.
Chester has a unique character, history and style all of its own. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a town at first – there is a Town Hall, after all – but it’s most definitely a city, and there’s a great big cathedral to prove it, founded in 1541 and a contemporary cultural hub for the city. That sense of ‘modern tradition’ sums up Chester, really. Take The Bluebell Inn, the oldest surviving domestic structure in the city on Northgate Street. Within a minute’s walk and you can be at Storyhouse, Chester’s brand new £37m arts centre.
Climbing up on top of the Roman city walls is like peering into a film set; it’s also the best way to get your bearings when you first arrive. You can walk the walls in about an hour and see many of the key landmarks; Eastgate Clock, the castle, Chester Racecourse (The Roodee) and the Roman amphitheatre.
There are loads of Things To Do in Chester during the day and night. The cultural scene here is thriving and there are some brilliant people doing brilliant things, Chester Visual Arts, Roman Candle Promotions and The Little Theatre, to name just a few.
The restaurant scene is better now than ever before and Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor has recently been awarded Michelin Star status for 30th consecutive year. Chester is also home to Hypha, one of the best plant-based restaurants in the country, and the award-winning Chester Market with its buzzing street food vibe and local craft ales.
Shopping in Chester is a little bit different too; alongside big-name boutiques and fashion stores you’ll find independent shops and family-run businesses set in The Rows, a unique collection of 13th century buildings that have been protected and preserved.
There are loads of festivals throughout the year too, from Shakespeare reinvented at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, to Chester Pride celebrating the LGBT+ community.
From the old to the new, everything comes together in perfect balance. That’s what makes Chester different.
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.
Enjoy this hilarious Shakespearean comedy in the wonderful open-air surroundings of Grosvenor Park.
A tale of comedy, passion and endless dancing, and one of the most cherished love stories in English literature plays in the open air this summer.