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DERBY - ENGLAND'S CENTRAL HOTSPOT
Discover a city bursting with life and prepare yourself for surprises. UK’s most central city offers so much to see and do, that one visit might not be enough. Derby is also a gateway to not only other districts, but also Paris which is only 4.5 hours away. Based at Radisson Blu you will have adventures at the tips of your fingers, whether it is sports, culinary delights or exploration of the UK.
The city of Derby in the East Midlands has always been a powerhouse for industry and production. Its foundations were built around the railways, train manufacturing and the mills on the River Derwent and its success was shaped by the industrial revolution. Derby is also a hot spot for cars manufacturers - Rolls Royce arrived in 1907 and Toyota still has a plant just south of the city.
If you’re a big fan of the smell of melting Tarmac then you’re in luck – the city’s Donnington Park Circuit has been roaring with engines since 1931, although today you are more likely to see a superbike whiz past than the elegant motors of the 1930s. The Radisson Blu Hotel, East Midlands Airport is well placed if you want to visit – it’s just three miles away from all the action on the track.
Derby gained city status in 1977 and its Cathedral Quarter has been revived into a buzzing area with markets, restaurants, shops and cafes. Derby also has a few museums which are worth a visit, including the Derby Silk Mill, which is part of the World Heritage Site along the river bank. It’s known as the oldest factory in the world and you’ll get a real sense of Derby’s social history as you walk around. Derby Museum and Art Gallery has both national treasures and international pieces and the house of Derby architect Joseph Pickford, Pickford’s Museum, will give you an insight into life in Georgian times.
If you’re more interested in the Great Outdoors then Derby has a few tricks up its sleeve. On the grounds of the old gas works and industrial sites where the trains were manufactured is the 10 hectare Pride Park Sanctuary Bird and Wildlife Reserve. Here you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of lapwings, skylarks, sand martins and reed buntings against the backdrop of the city. And if that doesn’t satisfy your thirst for the natural world, Derby also has a Grade II Listed Arboretum. The park was the gift of one of Derby’s successful mill owners, Joseph Strutt, to give something back to the people of the city. It’s still a popular place to visit just south of the city centre.
Whether you’re catching a flight from East Midlands Airport or using the hotel as a base for exploring Derby and the surrounding area, we’ve picked five things you should do.
- Derby is surrounded by beautiful countryside and part of the city’s industrial past has been converted into a playground for nature lovers and rare birds. Pride Park Sanctuary Bird and Wildlife Reserve is a fantastic space where you can take a walk and spot swooping skylarks and hear reed buntings chattering in the old Gas Works’ grounds.
- If you prefer something a little more fast-paced you should head out of the hotel to the nearby Donnington Park Circuit. This is a must for adrenalin junkies and you’ll see superbikes as well as Formula Four speed cars and even huge trucks as they race around the track. On some evenings you can ride around the track on push bikes – just check at the hotel which evenings they do this so you’re not disappointed.
- The River Derwent has sections which are protected under the UNESCO World Heritage as it is such a key part of Derby’s history – without water the silk mills would never have been productive. You could walk along this stretch of river for 15 miles from Derby to Matlock Bath taking in all the mills along the way including the Derby Silk Mill – the oldest factory in the world.
- If you want to know more specifically about Derby and its social and industrial history then the best place to head to is Derby Museum and Art Gallery. This has both local and national artefacts and paintings including Derby’s own Joseph Wright who captured the social scenes and etiquette of the 18th Century.
- In the evening why not go for a pint at one of Derby’s award-winning pubs. Spend a couple of hours at the Bell and Castle or the Exeter Arms for some Real Ale and get to know more about Derby as you chat to friendly locals.
- After a couple of pints of Derby’s Real Ale you may have the courage to take on of the city’s famous ghost walks – Derby is known as one of the most haunted cities in the UK. You never know you may even get to see a ghost – there have been 315 sightings on Derby’s streets. Now who’s that behind you?
When you stay with us at East Midlands Airport there are lots of places you can shop from the airport to designer outlets and independent stores in Derby.
At the airport
East Midlands Airport has all the essentials for your travels including a Boots, Dixons, WHS and World Duty Free for tax free shopping. There’s also a place to indulge in a massage before or after your flight. For peace of mind remember you can take a shopping bag as well as your hand luggage on board so there’s no need to hold back!
A short drive from the hotel and the airport is McArthurGlen Designer Outlet East Midlands which has more than 70 shops and great prices with lots of items reduced by 70 per cent. You’ll find top end designer brands including Lacoste, Kurt Geiger, Ghost, Jaeger, CK Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger, Fossil, Antler, Bench, Ben Sherman, Superdry, and high street names such as M&S too. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants for when you need a break from the shops and the free parking makes it an easy trip.
Derby city centre
Derby is an easy place to shop as a lot of the centre is pedestrianised. You’ll find all the usual high street names here and the Cathedral Quarter with its pretty 16th century buildings is also a lovely place to browse and stop for a coffee. Derby also has a large shopping centre, Intu Derby, which has a leisure centre with cinema, more than 100 shops and a food court. The shopping centre is open until 8pm on a Thursday and Friday.
Derby has quite a few markets so if you’re here on the right day then it’s well worth a visit. Market Hall in the city centre offers a mix of clothes, food and fresh fruit and vegetables. There’s a fresh fish market in Lock Up Yard and a farmers’ market in Market Place once a month – check with the concierge as it may be on when you are staying with us.