As a current resident of Derby and a former-resident-turned-frequent-visitor of Nottingham, I really enjoyed writing pieces about these two neighbouring cities. I have covered the Derby day and Nottingham day in more detail in previous posts, so please do take a look at these if you’d like to learn more.


Derby trip


Nottingham trip


Here is how you can spend the weekend in the Midlands visiting landmarks that inspire, engage and delight. I do hope you will read, enjoy, share and spread the word about these wonderful cities where there is so much to do and explore.


Top 5 Highlights in Derby, not in any particular order

  • The hanging car in the atrium. It’s an airborne car. How can that not be on anyone’s favourite list? I dare you not to stare at it for longer than five seconds. (It is impossible because it is just so jaw-droppingly awesome.)


  • The Lowry titled ‘Houses near a Mill’ that depicts a domesticated setting and not Lowry’s usual industrial artwork is a joy to behold. It is also estimated to be a cool £1 million, which is another added thrill.


  • The Rolls Royce Trent 1000 aero engine hanging in the first floor shop weighs 6 tonnes and up close it is even more impressive. I will never be near an engine like that. Ever. And that’s what makes the viewing even more awe-inspiring, because the experience is one of a kind.


  • Nigel’s incisive art commentary at Derby Museum & Art Gallery, championing Joseph Wright’s talent and work in one of the world’s largest Joseph Wright collections is fascinating. I learnt plenty and was so inspired, I even bought a book about Joseph Wright from the Derby Museum & Art Gallery Gift Shop.  


  • There is a fully kitted out Workshop available to rent per hour or day. I love how the Museum of Making nurtures creativity, I might well be tempted to see if there’s something I can use it for (more on this in a standalone post).


Top 5 Highlights in Nottingham, not in any particular order

  • The worlds of education and story-telling collide wonderfully in Nottingham Castle’s Robin Hood Adventures. It is easy to learn and be engaged with moving images and I love how the film literally unfolds around the entire room keeping you transfixed. I have always enjoyed history and learning more about Robin Hood, one of the greatest legends is not only time well spent, but also time thoroughly enjoyed.  


  • A personal favourite is the beautiful garden and vantage point where you can have a picnic on the castle grounds behind Hood’s Hideout Adventure Play area. I aim to return there by grabbing a takeaway coffee from the Nottingham Castle Terrace Café and just enjoying the tranquillity of that particular spot.


  • Paul Smith’s exhibition “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” in the Ducal Palace is really inspirational and gives breath-taking insight into the workings of a creative genius. The room chock-full of his belongings and items that provide a source for inspiration also inspired me (more on that in a different blog post).


  • Nottingham Castle Terrace Café is one of the best spaces to not only sip coffee on the terrace or to plant for a spot of al fresco dining, but also to enjoy the interior. It is so light and airy and white, that I imagine it is like being in heaven. (Heaven would definitely serve smoked salmon sandwiches.)


  • The interactive and engaging nature of the dramatisations (both in the Courtroom Trial and Exercise Yard) at National Justice Museum is brilliant. Hat-tip to the actors for telling the stories of real people, based on actual transcripts, whose lives were irrevocably changed due to the complex and fascinating nature of an ancient justice system.


Travel on the day was with trentbarton, who operate a region-wide network of public transport covering destinations including Nottingham, Burton, Chesterfield, Mansfield, East Midlands Designer Outlet and the Peak District.

If you are travelling into Derby and seeking an overnight stay, there is a range of accommodation available from The Stay Company, The Cow Dalbury, Holiday Inn Express Derby and a host of others.


If you do visit any of the places mentioned in this blog, I would love to know how you got on. Thank you to Michelle, Stella and the entire Visit Derby team for the coordination and assistance during my Derby and Nottingham excursions.