PUBLISHED: 13:22 30 June 2011 | UPDATED: 21:35 20 February 2013
Stella Birks looks at what the county city has to offer
Strolling down the streets of Derby in the early summer sunshine, its easy to see why the city is being discovered as a short break destination. Central, compact, easy to get to and around, Derby is enjoying a fast-growing reputation for world class festivals together with easily accessible attractions offering family fun.
Once people arrive the friendly, relaxed feel of the city appeals to all ages. Surrounded by the glorious Peak District and Derbyshire countryside yet steeped in history and exciting city culture, Derby is just two hours away from 80 per cent of the UK population and just 90 minutes from London St Pancras.
DERBY" A GREAT"PLACE
The compact nature of Derby means its easy to enjoy a contrast of city experiences from trendy high-street shopping to unique boutiques and independents without once getting in a car or hopping on a bus.
Caf Culture has really caught on in the historic Cathedral Quarter. Designer boutiques, stylish coffee shops and quality gift emporiums nestle in the shadow of Derby Cathedral where you will find the tomb of the infamous Bess of Hardwick together with a thriving family of peregrine falcons.
With over 190 stores, Westfield Derby is a shiny glass shopping palace, guaranteed to keep everyone happy. Enjoy a little retail therapy, then snack your way around the world at Eat Central or catch a movie in one of twelve screens at Showcase Cinema de Lux.
An alternative cinema experience can be found at Quad. This recent addition to the citys cultural scene also offers a Gallery, and lively Caf bar. QUAD was recently selected in the MSN Top 10 modern glass architectural delights of the world. The Derbyshire gritstone clad building is the work of Stirling Prize winning architects Fielden Clegg Bradley and has become an iconic feature of the Market Place.
Award-winning contemporary architecture is evidence that Derby has changed dramatically in recent years. Exciting new developments complement the unique and special heritage. A dramatic swing bridge gives access over the River Derwent to the transformed Cathedral Green adjacent to the site of the worlds first factory and start of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. This transformed area of the city has created an exciting new performance space which features heavily in the annual street performance spectacular FESTE.
Taking place the last weekend in September, Feste combines the work of world class international street artists with local community talent to create a truly individual festival.
Derbys cultural and engineering heritage spans many generations. The Museum and Art Gallery is home to the worlds largest collection of the work of, Joseph Wright, celebrated world-wide for capturing the advancement of science in art. Derbys creative credentials may be embedded in world changing history but the thriving gaming industry (Lara Croft was born in Derby) is just one way in which the city is leading the age of technology. Derby is the first city in the UK to use Microsoft tag technology to take people around the city and tell the unique stories that make the city special.
The oldest surviving manufacturer of English fine bone china, Royal Crown Derby continues to be manufactured exclusively in Derby and factory tours take place on week days.
Tours are also available of the worlds first engine turning shed. The Derby Roundhouse has been magnificently restored as the home of Derby College allowing visitors to tread in the footsteps of engineering giants George and Robert Stephenson.
Derbys transformation has attracted International hotel chains to the city. In the last two years Jurys Inn, Holiday Inn and Hilton Hampton have all opened new hotels. Boutique style accommodation can be enjoyed at Grade II listed Cathedral Quarter Hotel and the historic station hotel now the smart Hallmark Derby.
DERBY A GREAT BASE
Stay in the city to enjoy the best of both worlds city culture, shopping and international cuisine together with easy accessibility to the peaceful countryside and national attractions. Many of the hotels offer discounted rates or packages to Chatsworth House (around 30 miles away ) and Alton Towers (around 25 miles away). Other great family attractions with a distinctive Derbyshire feel include: the Heights of Abraham where a dramatic alpen style cable car ride over the steep slopes of Masson Hill is just the start of the fun; Crich Tramway Village with period streets (dont miss the sweet shop with everyones childhood favourites!) and regular tram rides in exchange for genuine old pennies. Discover the great outdoors with fun-packed adventures available at Conkers and Rosliston Forestry Centre. Children of ten and over will love to sail above the tree tops at Go-Ape whilst younger members of the family can enjoy thrills and spills at Gullivers Theme Park in Matlock Bath.
Three National Trust gems are to be found on the outskirts of the city: Calke Abbey, Kedleston Hall and Sudbury Hall with the National Trust Museum of Childhood.
There are so many reasons to visit Derby and yet another incentive is the Destination Derby campaign. Special rates at participating hotels offer even better value for money with the downloadable 10 per room gift voucher. Further information can be found at www.visitderby.co.uk or call Derby Tourist Information Centre, Assembly Rooms, The Market Place, Derby, DE1 3AH. Tel 01332 255802.