Blog post

Derby: Student life in the city

Derby is the city where you can have it all - you just need to know where to look. Here's a quick run-through of some of our students' favourite destinations.

By Ryan O'Riordan - 24 January 2019

Culture lover

The arts scene offers lots of contrast, between the QUAD visual arts centre and independent cinema, Déda (Derby Dance), celebrating dance and incorporating different cultures, and our own Derby Theatre. With reduced tickets for students and a mix of our own shows, independent productions, and national tours, you'll find something to pique your interest. Watch the streets come alive for the spectacle of Derby Festé and Format photography festivals.

You'll find a rich tapestry of culture in Derby - our museum is a good place to start, including the signature exhibitions on Derby's premier Enlightenment painter, Joseph Wright. Another exhibit shows how the World Wars affected us locally, and the newest addition includes artefacts that have been donated to the city from around the world. Find out about Derby's critical role in the industrial revolution at the newly refurbished Museum of Making. 

Our heritage is something to pay attention to as well - for the more casual observer, we've got some of England's oldest watering holes in the city, including The Abbey and The Dolphin (15th and 16th century respectively). Stately home admirers have a lot to get excited by in Chatsworth House and Kedleston Hall.

Adrenaline Junkie

If you're looking to get your pulse racing, there are a range of local facilities to keep you moving. Derby Arena is the home of a cycling velodrome, or there's a BMX track at Alvaston. High octane motorsport experiences can be found at Donington Park.

If the great outdoors calls you, you can venture into the Peak District, mountain biking at Curbar Edge, and water sports at Carsington Water.

Climbers love the Peak District, Burbage and Black Rock for their naturally formed rock problems. But if the winter months put you off, there's two extensive climbing centres back in the city too.

Sports Fanatic

Sport brings the people of Derby together unlike anything else. From football at Pride Park to cricket at the Derbyshire Country Cricket Club, matches show the city's passionate fans.

If there's a big match or tournament on, The Hideout and Derby Sports Bar are ideal student-centric venues to watch from. 

For those that prefer to be involved, your first port of call should be looking at the Team Derby sports operated in conjunction with the Union of Students. There's badminton, basketball, cycling and volleyball performance programmes which aspire to attract and retain student athletes.

On a more casual basis, Willows and DW in the city offer casual - or competitive - five-aside football.

Gig Goer

Live music always finds its place in Derby. Tribute bands from the 80s and 90s frequently play at The Flowerpot and The Venue, which are the best venues for your mid-tier pop, indie or rock bands.

Beyond that, Derby Arena is a home for national tours by comedians and entertainment acts, and in recent years the Derbyshire County Cricket Club has hosted massive open air concerts in the summer for acts such as Little Mix, Michael Bublé, and Elton John.

Night Owl

Derby sets you up for a friendly, energetic night out with a good selection of venues all found in a compact area.

If you're looking to dance, student nights live on at Popworld. Moo Moo, Bar Fever, and Bluenote offer up new and old hits, while Mosh is perfect for rock fans.

There's plenty of chain options, but we've also got some fantastic bars with their own takes on cocktails and craft beers. Sadler Gate is your starting point, with Bunk, Plant, Suds & Soda, and Revolución de Cuba all nearby.

And with Stein Strasse, you'll come for the beer but may end end up dancing on the tables...

Serenity Seeker

If a laid back approach to life is more your style, there's plenty of places and spaces to achieve this. From the luscious greens of Darley and Markeaton parks to a spot of shopping in the independent boutiques of Sadler Gate, you can fill your time in peaceful, expansive environments.

Look for your ideal vantage point at places like Mercia Marina, or from a cable car at Matlock Bath. Venture out into the Peak District to jump across the stepping stones at Dovedale.

There's a fantastic selection of coffee shops like The Book Café, BEAR and Bean, so whether you're working or relaxing, you'll find the right spot for you to get some peace.

Find out more about student life in Derby

About the author

Ryan O'Riordan
Campaigns Officer

Campaigns Officer at the University of Derby, responsible for creating helpful and innovative content across our websites, blogs and social media channels.