The Fresher's Guide to Nottingham
Welcome to Nottingham; the home of Robin Hood, the oldest boozer in the country and people that will call you ‘Duck’. In addition to the hugely popular nightspots of Ocean and Pryzm, the city boasts a vibrant music scene that has long been the toast of the Midlands. From the sweaty energy of Rock City, to the quirky, indie charm of the Bodega, Nottingham has something to offer students of every persuasion, whether they hail from Uni of or Trent, (make no mistake, the rivalry is fierce.) In this city guide we’ll cover the biggest nights, cutting-edge underground venues, hidden gems, cheap eats and most importantly, the best boozers.
Wednesdays | Rock City
Every Wednesday, Rock City puts its grungy image to one side and embraces the lighter side of life. Crisis nearly always sells out; a riot of £1.50 Jagerbombs, staggering sports socials, and enough cheese to fill a French aircraft hanger.
Wednesdays & Fridays | Ocean
Almost as old as Ye Olde Trip, Ocean is Nottingham’s only 100% student nightclub. Pop-heavy and frenetic, the action takes place around one huge dance floor. Trent students are welcomed on Wednesdays while Nottingham Uni goers have to wait until Friday for their dose of cheesy goodness.
Thursdays | Rock City
Billed as Nottingham’s “Biggest Student Night”, the Trenter-populated Tuned features a weird and wonderful mix of genres. Held every Thursday at Rock City, it’s not unusual to hear Stormzy, My Chemical Romance, and Ariana Grande back to back. With 2-4-1 drinks and three dance floors, there are worse ways to spend a Thursday evening.
Fridays | Club Ink
Not to be confused with the tattoo parlour in Ohio, Ink Sessions takes place every Friday at Nottingham’s Club Ink, and it’s a monster with four themed rooms and 8 bars. Fans of electronic music are in for a treat with an array of styles and guest acts on offer in every room.
Tuesdays | Pryzm
PRYZM is officially Nottingham’s biggest nightclub. Featuring several rooms (including a Bavarian beer hall), Tape is popular with students, offering £1.50 singles, and an eclectic medley of cheese and R&B that’ll keep you bumping and grinding until the wee hours.
Stealth is a legendary destination for electronic music, and regularly hosts some of the most exciting talent in the scene. From Nottingham’s local heroes to global superstars, it’s a dark and dirty mecca for fans of drum & bass, jungle, techno and more, so bring a towel and get your skank on.
Next door (and physically attached) to Stealth you will find indie paradise, Rescue Rooms. Famous for showcasing up-and-coming bands, epic curly fries, and relaxed vibes, every Saturday they throw open the doors and go head to head with their neighbours for Rescued vs Stealth. Let the games begin…
Brickworks is located a little out of town in Sneinton, but it’s worth the trip. This unassuming warehouse venue has earned a growing reputation on the underground scene, showcasing some of the hottest acts in the UK. They don’t even have a website – edgy af.
The Bodega, located just up from Nottingham’s Market Square is another celebrated indie hotspot. It’s intimate, but don’t let its size fool you; some of the biggest acts in the UK revere this place. Alongside numerous gigs, The Pop Confessional is a popular club night on a Friday, where indie kids submit anonymous guilty pleasure requests for the DJ to spin. Whether you choose to own up or not is between you and your conscience….
Probably the coolest shop in Nottingham, Rough Trade offers more than just 12-inch porn for vinyl fanatics. The bar is regularly taken over by live acts, ranging from stoner punk bands to comedians. Keep an eye Prelinks for live shows, or just drop in for a beer and browse through their extensive collection of wax and paperbacks.
7 Legged Bar Crawl
October | University of Nottingham Students’ Union
The existence of this iconic pub crawl was recently under threat after the SU were forced to distance themselves from the event in 2016. Fortunately, the team behind Crisis have picked it up, and it should be business as usual… Business as usual being six drunk people with their legs tied together (plus one detached runner) trying to navigate their way around Nottingham city centre for hours. Our advice? Go big with the fancy dress, but try to keep it in good taste…
Detonate is Nottingham’s premier Drum & Bass extravaganza. Now 15 years old, the regular event has moved to Brickworks (expect one a term), with a festival held at the end of the summer term. You’re gonna get sweaty; this one’s hardcore.
Dot to Dot
May | Various Venues
Dot to Dot is a citywide festival that takes over Nottingham during the last weekend of May. Indie fans can blearily wander from venue to venue to their heart’s content, and even pop home for lunch. Get to the popular stuff early though – it gets busy.
Nottingham Goose Fair
Forest Recreation Ground | October
This might seem like a strange one to include, but according to all reports the Goose Fair is actually pretty fun. There are fairground rides, games, a helter skelter… and no one seems to mind you wandering around with a cheeky can or two.
Hidden in an alley off Market Square, Coco Tang serves up a huge range of cocktails at surprisingly affordable prices, and makes for a great pre-club pit stop. If you can find a better White Russian for under a fiver… please tell us where, and we’ll meet you there.
And in case one secret cocktail bar isn’t enough, Tilt is another great shout for an unusual tipple. Live blues and a classic speakeasy vibe make this a great place to spend an hour, or two… or even just the whole evening.
Situated in the heart of Hockley, The Jam Cafe certainly lives up to its name (musically speaking – they don’t sell jam.) With regular live acts, an open mic night on Wednesdays, and even an in-house vinyl store to browse whilst sampling the range of continental beers.
If you’re of a veggie or vegan persuasion, this is about to become your favourite place in the world, as their meatless menu is delicious enough to silence even the most committed carnivore. In the evenings they host open mic nights and DJs, with the occasional poetry bash thrown in for good measure. They’re not great at listing however – so your best bet is to just turn up.
The Chameleon Arts Cafe
Tiny venue off Nottingham’s Angel row, famed for great vibes and squashy sofas. Highly recommended.
Horn in Hand
A favourite with Trenters due to it’s proximity to campus, this friendly establishment is the ideal place to grab a craft ale, watch sports, or just hang out after lectures.
With regular meal deals, 2-4-1 cocktail nights and pub quizzes, the Orange Tree is a long-standing student favourite located conveniently close to town.
For Lenton-based students, the Ropewalk in Canning Circus can make a handy pit stop on the way to town, but it’s also a worthy destination in its own right, with quirky decor, Sky Sports, and a legendary pub quiz.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
One of a handful of pubs that claim to be the the oldest in England, Ye Olde Trip is built into the castle walls and astonishingly dates back all the way to 1189. Wonderfully unique, this place is a great shout for a quieter drink, although anyone over five feet tall needs to watch their head. People were a lot smaller in 1189, apparently.
A long standing favourite with Lentonians, the Bag is a great spot to catch a game or gather before town, with regular drinks deals and a raucous clientele.
Annie’s Burger Shack
Though it may look like your run-of-the-mill burger joint, one glance at the adventurous menu will tell you otherwise. Self-proclaimed as ‘the original taste of New England in Nottingham’, the menu offers 32 different types of burgers spanning from the twisted traditionals, to the quirky cuisine-inspired, to the outrageous original creations. Considering that some burgers are quite literally a dinner in a bun (see The Sunday Dinner burger) the price is on point, even better when you flash your student card for a ten percent discount. Kerching.
Oscar & Rosies
There’s only one type of food that students love more than a certain beige carbohydrate…pizza. At Oscar & Rosies, that love is put to the test with their enormous tomato and cheese creations that’ll leave you full for the rest of the week (maybe even life). For those with a monstrous appetite and some cash to splash, try and tackle the infamous Pizza By The Metre. Or, why not throw a pizza party and be the hero of halls? There’s an idea for you, fresher.
Loved by vegetarians and carnivores alike, this modern Mediterranean restaurant offers a variety of tapas and mezes that’ll leave you spoilt for choice. The main menu is relatively inexpensive but if you really want to bag a bargain, swing by between lectures for the £4.95 lunch options. Alternatively, pick three dishes from the tapas/meze dishes for less than eight quid.
Flying Horse Walk
If you’re looking for the perfect lunchtime pit stop, 200 Degrees has everything you could dream of. The dinky deli offers a vast array of comfort food including filled croissants, quiches, soups, and salads, as well as award-winning artisan coffee. So, when you go to those afternoon lectures you don’t have to worry about your stomach rumbling, or dropping off to sleep for that matter. Score.
Homemade food and super-low prices: that’s every student’s winning combo, right? Edna herself crafts a tasty assortment of lunchtime treats from classics such as the humble Tuna Melt down to more high-brow hot plates like the Pan Roasted Salmon & Chorizo with Herb Couscous. Eat Edna’s creations inside the cosy confines of her Kitchen cafe or take your food away to save a couple of quid.