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The 25 best things to do in Sheffield

Get ready to take on one of the UK's most happening cities, from green spaces to a bustling culinary scene


Sheffield has been having its moment for a while now. Last year, we investigated why everyone and their dog is moving there for good, and in 2023 we crowned it the second best city break spot in Europe. This is a mighty cool city, and the world has (finally) woken up to it. 

Not only is Sheffield one of the UK’s greenest cities, it’s got a thriving arts, culture and food scene to match. Pair that with its cracking bars, clubs and general nightlife scene, and you’ve got yourself a seriously packed-full weekend away (or a new home altogether, we guess). From festivals to animal parks, here are the best things to do in Sheffield right now. 

🍝 The best restaurants in Sheffield
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☀️ The best things to do in the UK

At Time Out, all our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

Fun activities in Sheffield

1. Showroom Cinema

What is it? An independent cinema, café bar and creative workspace housed in a former 1930s car showroom. 

Why go? An amazing film programming, always showing the finest new releases in cinema from across the world. Not to mention film classes, screenings of classics and the Showroom Cinema plays home to a variety of festivals including the acclaimed Sheffield Doc/Fest. Its ‘take two’ deal is a must: two film tickets, two meals and a bottle of wine for £50 (£45 for Showroom Members).

2. The Sheffield Greenground Map

What is it? The Sheffield Greenground Map connects all of Sheffield's greenspaces in the city.

Why go? From ancient woodland to public parks to peatland bog, a whopping 61 percent of Sheffield is green space. This handy map connects it all, meaning it's an excellent resource for planning walks in and around the city. 


3. Tramlines Festival

What is it? Sheffield’s premier annual music festival. 

Why go? To experience a variety of live music take place in Hillsborough Park, as well as via the plentiful fringe events that take place throughout the city. With a focus on indie and pop, Tramlines Festival has welcomed countless big names to the city over the years, from Noel Gallagher to Nile Rogers and Chic.

4. The Crucible

What is it? Sheffield’s finest theatre combines visiting productions – from the likes of the National Theatre – with an impressive in-house programme.

Why go? The quality of productions at The Crucible is second to none, and The Crucible's innovative design keeps all 900-plus members of the audience intimately close to the action on stage.


5. The Leadmill

What is it? A legendary venue, primarily known for music, that has been a stalwart of the performance scene in Sheffield since the early 1980s and continues to present a great line-up of live events.

Why go? The Leadmill is not just Sheffield’s best live music venue – it hosts cinema, comedy and club nights too, in what was once a flour mill. Not a lead mill. Plus Jarvis Cocker once directed a panto there.

6. Sheffield Botanical Gardens

What is it? A grand Victorian garden, with almost 20 acres of land and 5,000 plant species, that sits a mile outside the city centre and is free to enter. There are regular live music, open-air theatre and art events too.

Why go? For respite from the busy city. Stroll through the Botanical Gardens's sweeping lawns, stunning glass pavilions and formal and informal gardens.


7. Site Gallery

What is it? A contemporary art space in the city centre. 

Why go? After re-opening in 2018 in a space three times the size of what it was, Site Gallery is arguably the leading contemporary art space in Sheffield. Specialising in moving image, new media and performance, there's always interesting exhibitions to catch. Plus their cafe is one of the best in the city. 

8. Sheffield Doc Fest

What is it? One of the biggest and most celebrated documentary festivals in the world. 

Why go? Once a year in June, Sheffield turns into a mecca for documentaries. For a full week, the city is flooded with films for Sheffield Doc Fest, talks, sessions, events and more that celebrate the world of documentary. You’ll get the chance to see world premiere screenings of some of the biggest films of the year and also maybe bump into Louis Theroux down the pub.


9. Rafters

What is it? Rafters, Sheffield’s best fine dining restaurant, offers exquisite cuisine in a classic, exposed brick setting in the city’s leafy suburbs. Taster menus with matched wines offer the full sumptuous experience.

Why go? Because you’ll enjoy among the best food and wine in the city and while it’s not cheap, you’ll be there for hours. Vegetarians are well catered for too. Go on, give your taste buds a treat.

10. Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre

What is it? A wildlife park in North Anston, a few miles outside the city, where you can spend the day getting close to otters, lemurs, meerkats, farm animals, birds and butterflies.

Why go? To entertain the kids. The Butterfly House is fun, educational and captivating, with daily activities, hands-on experiences and a dinosaur trail if the live animals aren’t cutting it.


11. Sensoria Festival

What is it? An annual festival that celebrates both music and film. 

Why go? To see a range of interesting film screenings that cover both film and documentary, a variety of live gigs, industry events and exhibitions often held in unique or unusual spaces. In previous years Sensoria Festival have held film screenings everywhere from an abandoned airfield to an outdoor swimming pool.

12. Tamper at Sellers Wheel

What is it? A Kiwi-inspired café with a tasty menu of light bites and mains to go with its own blend of coffee, as well as other, carefully sourced brews.

Why go? The coffee is great – the café even holds coffee-tasting classes – and the setting, inside a former cutlery factory, is charming. Tamper has fantastic cakes and a good kids’ menu too. You can start your weekend there on a Friday night when its opening hours extend to 10pm.


13. The Abbeydale Picture House

What is it? A beautiful 1920s Grade II listed cinema that has been long-neglected but is now in the process of renovation, the Abbeydale Picture House puts on an eclectic programme of film screenings and live events.

Why go? You may well go to be impressed by the magnificent space but it’s the clever mix of events that will bring you back. Enjoy yourself while supporting a great building’s restoration to its former glory.

14. The Peak District

What is it? The Peak District is an iconic national park for hiking, cycling and wildlife spotting

Why go? It contains some of the most beautiful scenery, walks and places to visit in all of the UK. And it is on Sheffield’s doorstep. A short car, bus or train journey and you are amongst stunning beauty.


15. Mayfield Alpacas Animal Park

What is it? An animal park filled with alpacas. 

Why go? For the rare opportunity to get up close and feed these beautiful creatures. The Animal Park is also home to reindeers, meerkats and exotic birds.

16. Cutlery Works

What is it? The largest food hall in the north of England. 

Why go? Step inside this old converted Cutlery Works to sample an array of different food and drink options. From sushi to pizza, Mexican to Thai, there’s options for all tastes.


17. Bear Tree Records

What is it? An independent record shop.  

Why go? Bear Tree Records is well-stocked, thoughtfully designed for maximum browsing space, and you’ll come across the odd intimate gig in store. You'll find all the latest releases here, spanning multiple genres, as well as a variety of second hand releases. 

18. Peddler Market

What is it? A market of street food, craft beer and live music. 

Why go? Go to Peddler Market for the award-winning grub, the huge selection of drinks, and the bands, artists and DJs that play into the evening.


19. Off the Shelf Festival

What is it? An annual literary festival celebrating all things books. 

Why go? To see a brilliant range of talks and events with authors from all over the world, spanning every genre of literature and non-fiction you can imagine. Previous guests have included Stephen Fry, Nick Hornby, Carol Ann Duffy and Helen Mort.

20. Rother Valley Country Park

What is it? A country park filled with loads of water-based activities to try. 

Why go? Technically located in Rotherham, Rother Valley Country Park is well worth the thirty-minute trip if you fancy some wakeboarding, waterskiing, canoeing, paddle boarding or anything other possible water-based activity you could dream up. It even has an aqua park (think bouncy castle assault course on water).


21. Picture House Social

What is it? A great place to drink cocktails, eat pizza and play ping-pong or shuffleboard. 

Why go? Some of the best pizza in the city, knockout cocktails, good vibes, plenty of ping-pong tables, plus a mini-cinema. Also, Picture House converted their back room into a huge shuffle board room called the Shuffle Shack, should you fancy even more fun and games along with your dough and drinks. 

22. Weston Park Museum

What is it? A grand old building dating from 1875 that’s a museum telling the story of Sheffield, from prehistory to today. It’s situated in Sheffield’s first municipal park.

Why go? To sate or spark your interest in the city of Sheffield. Exhibits at Weston Park Museum range from the archaeological to the artistic, with a strong natural history element, and the museum welcomes touring exhibitions from other institutions such as London’s V&A.


23. The Gardeners Rest

What is it? A fine pub with community at its heart. It’s owned and run by local people who put the interests of the community at the core of what the venue serves and how it operates, an ethos that makes you want to return.

Why go? The Gardeners Rest has an unmatched atmosphere, fantastic beer selection and the warmth of its decor and spirit. Look out for some great arts and musical events too.

24. Graves Gallery

What is it? A beautiful, free-entry gallery sitting atop Sheffield’s central library that’s home to the city’s superb permanent art collection comprising a wide range of work from across the ages.

Why go? Nineteenth-century European painting and sculpture sit alongside complementary contemporary works. At Graves Gallery can see a Grayson Perry tapestry, a Picasso and a Victorian nude in one place. A haven of peace in the busy city centre.


25. The Indie Arcade

What is it? Vintage shopping heaven in an off-the-beaten-track location that adds to its quirky charm, giving it the feel of a well-kept secret. The Indie Arcade is perfect for anyone with a taste for the unusual.

Why go? To get lost inside a warehouse labyrinth of retro kitsch and vintage style where you’ll browse furniture, vinyl, antiques, clothing and art for hours. Head to the café for a much-needed rest before you start rummaging again.

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