Sheffield is a great place to be a student. The Steel City boasts a great nightlife, a friendly atmosphere – there’s a reason it’s nicknamed “the world’s biggest village” – and a thriving independent scene.
With that in mind, whether you’re a fresh-faced first-year who’s just arrived or, like me, an ancient third-year, here are some of the city’s hidden gems that all students should know about.
Crookes Street Market
The popular street market in Crookes, one of Sheffield’s most student-y areas, has just celebrated its first birthday. Located just off the high street, the market showcases both local businesses and the diversity of Crookes’ community, selling food, books, t-shirts and more. At this month’s market I picked up two vintage books, by Leo Tolstoy and Robert Louis Stevenson, for a combined £3. Can’t argue with that.
Hipsters’ paradise, queues now stretch around the block for this trendy weekend food market which attracted around 1,000 people for its first event in 2014 and has been steadily growing ever since. Formerly housed near Arundel Gate, Peddler can now be found every other month on Fridays and Saturdays in an old warehouse in the nouveau-cool Kelham Island area.
It boasts an impressive range of independent food traders. Entrance is free but take plenty of money if you plan on sampling something from each stall!
Crookes Valley Park
Now, a lot of students know Weston Park, but neighbouring Crookes Valley Park seems to slip under the radar somewhat, particularly among first-years. There’s no reason for it to – Crookes Valley is a gorgeous green space with a picturesque lake and a bank perfect for barbecues.
Popular with runners and fishermen, the park is also ideal for students – it’s just down the hill from the Goodwin sports pitches and has its own pub, the Dam House (formerly owned by ex-England and Sheffield Wednesday footballer Carlton Palmer).
Rare and Racy
Few shops can lay claim to being part of a city’s fabric, but Rare and Racey is a bona fide Sheffield institution. The music and book shop has stood on Devonshire Street for nearly 50 years and its eclectic mix of rare CDs, books and magazines attracts everyone from students to pensioners.
Sadly, new flats being built on Devonshire Street mean Rare and Racey will soon be demolished, despite a 21,000-strong petition and celebrities including Jarvis Cocker, the Arctic Monkeys and snooker champion Steve Davis voicing their opposition. Jarvis called it “a global treasure”, while Davis said without it, “a little bit of the character of Sheffield will die.”
Make the most of it while it’s still here, then.
Some of you probably walk past another of Sheffield’s most-loved music institutions on the way to uni every day, but it’s surprising how many students don’t know it’s there.
Broomhill’s Record Collector is home to thousands of CDs from all genres and generations, and even has a separate vinyl shop next door. The shop’s background music is usually drowned out by the sound of hordes of music fans flipping through stacks of CDs, and queues stretch halfway to Endcliffe each year for Record Store Day, which sees special releases made available.
A lovingly-produced politics, music and culture magazine made in Sheffield, Now Then has been quietly growing in size and quality since its beginnings in 2008, recently celebrating its 100th issue. Most impressively, it’s free to read and can be picked up from hundreds of places across the city.
Named for a Sheffield idiom, the magazine has also featured high-profile interviewees including Michael Palin, Jeremy Corbyn, Jarvis Cocker, Benjamin Zephaniah and Stewart Lee.