Sheffield in the summer is alive with fun and entertainment! I recently spent a day in the city and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
For those who cannot get to the seaside, the seaside comes to the city! Taking over the Peace Gardens next to the Town Hall, Sheffield By the Seaside is on over the summer till the 30th August with lots of fun and candy floss to be had! In operation from 10am – 6pm, all the seaside spectaculars are there including a Punch and Judy show, a magician, numerous rides including a traditional Helter Skelter, stalls and of course a huge sandpit.
Water fun can be had by paddling in the Peace Garden fountains. And all this is set against the magnificent backdrop of Sheffield Town Hall. Unfortunately at time of writing, this event is nearly over, but bear it in mind for next summer when I’m sure it will be back again.
The architecture of Sheffield’s Town Hall is beautiful and deserves a circuit of the building to take in all the chimneys and towers.
And to be found in the shadow of the Town Hall were my first elephant spots of the day…
Elephants in Sheffield? – You may well ask!
A whole herd of elephants has descended on Sheffield in the largest public art event the city has seen. This exciting art trail has come to fruition thanks to The Children’s Hospital Charity and the generosity of local businesses, groups, schools and individuals across the city. All funds raised help support the patients and families that depend on Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
There are 58 large elephants dotted around the main city centre, with a few at outlying tourist attractions such as Meadowhall Shopping Centre and various parks.
In addition to Sheffield’s Herd is the “Little Herd”: some 72 small elephant calves placed in groups at various indoor venues across the city. They have been designed by local school children and teachers and showcase everything Sheffield stands for as seen through children’s eyes.
The money raised through the “Little Herd” will go towards the Make it Better appeal transforming the walls of the new hospital wing through ‘Artfelt’, the charity’s art programme. The aim is to build a comforting and engaging environment for the young patients through art, giving them a chance to recover in a hospital designed with them in mind.
You could spend hours searching out all the elephants and I dedicated a few to this activity myself being a sucker for art, crafts and culture. And in my search, I marvelled at the array of modern architecture in the city to compliment the old. One such building intrigued me…
Nearby the Town Hall and Peace Garden is the Winter Garden, one of the largest temperate glass houses to be built in the UK and a unique attraction for a city centre. It has created a fabulous green space for Sheffield city centre with more than 2500 plants from all over the world creating a stunning display.
The glass house is 70 metres long and 22 metres high, and is currently home to one of the groups of small elephant calves making up the Little Herd of Sheffield.
There are 14 calves hiding in the Winter Garden, some managing this better than others. My favourite has to be Bradley, designed by Bradfield School and based on the link between them and Sheffield’s industry.
Bradley’s feet are the foundations of the city with the industry supporting it. Smoke rises up from the chimneys to create the city’s trees and rural heritage. Behind this are cogs which represent the school ‘stem’ education emphasis. The colours are greys and silvers reflecting Sheffield’s number one export: steel!
Details such as these about each elephant can be found on the phone app which you can use to log each elephant you find by scanning the QR code on its plinth. The app then does the rest. As you find more and more elephants, special offers are unlocked that give you money off in shops and restaurants, or promotions such as ‘get a free cocktail or starter.’ There are also opportunities to enter prize draws, usually requiring you to tweet a selfie with the elephant as a means of entering the draw.
Children will have great fun running around finding them, hiding behind them playing hide and seek with parents and even clambering on top of them, though this is discouraged. Children will be children though!
The Winter Garden is open Monday to Saturday 8am – 8pm and Sunday till 6pm. Many would recognise the venue from the BBC coverage of World Championship Snooker in the Crucible nearby. Interviews with players and discussion about play are carried out in the Winter Garden.
There are many retail units inside the Winter Garden. Of particular note is Sheffield Makes, a tiny craft gallery dedicated to works by local artists and crafters. I loved the photography of Kate Cooper who collages sections of images taken at different times to achieve different colours, patterns and textures to make up the whole image.
You can buy your Herd of Sheffield trail guides here too.
Also inside the Winter Garden is access to the popular Millennium Galleries, a must on any Sheffield itinerary. I spent a fair bit of time exploring the many small galleries here and was impressed with the variety of exhibitions on and their pertinence to Sheffield. One of three galleries in the Museums Sheffield charity, the Millennium Galleries are currently celebrating “The Year of Making”, a major city-wide initiative to explore Sheffield’s international reputation for innovation and excellence in making.
Sheffield has always been a city of makers and we are surrounded by things that are made in the city of Sheffield. Before I saw the Millennium Galleries exhibition “Made in Sheffield”, only the stainless steel industry sprung to mind as made in the city.
However, there’s much more to Sheffield than its steel industry and this exhibition celebrates the diversity of makers and manufacturers in the area and the wide range of products created, featuring works by over 100 leading companies, from global aeronautical engineering to home ware, fashion and handmade tools.
Another gallery shows off Museums Sheffield’s metalwork collection illustrating the story of Sheffield’s innovative metalworking heritage. This exhibition presents some of the highlights of its 13,000 strong collection of metal objects dating from prehistoric times to present day and details how Sheffield became famous for its stainless steel cutlery.
The Ruskin Gallery exhibits a series of objects from John Ruskin’s collection. Ruskin’s name is synonymous with Sheffield. He believed Sheffield workers were the best metalworkers in the world and so founded a museum for them in 1875 which he filled with objects of beauty found on his travels to provide inspiration for them during hard times. Containing paintings, drawings, manuscripts, minerals and architectural casts, the collection explores the connection between nature and art to encourage inventiveness amongst craftspeople.
The last gallery I visited displayed a contemporary ceramics exhibition called “Shaped from the Earth” with works from local ceramicists inspired by the city’s architecture, landscape and rich cultural vibrancy. A wide range of techniques are demonstrated including hand-coiled vessels, wheel thrown tableware and organic sculptural forms and most of the works are for sale.
After soaking up all the information I could possibly take in at the Millennium Galleries it was time for tea! Recommended in the area is the Pan Asian buffet at nearby Cosmo and Italian at Piccolino, however these places were full to overflowing with well over an hours waiting time for a table, so I settled on the Pizza Express next to the Winter Garden, whose dough balls and Padana pizza I find difficult to beat! Check out “Holi” the elephant outside Pizza Express. He was one of my favourites!
For an evening out, take in a show at one of Sheffield theatres. The city has the largest theatre complex outside of London – the Crucible, the Lyceum and the Crucible Studio have a real mix of in-house shows and touring productions. Also on the other side of the road facing these venues, there is a massive Odeon and the O2 Academy – Sheffield’s premier live music venue, so take your pick for evening entertainment. There’s so much on offer!
As I was only in Sheffield for the day, I did not venture far from this central area. There is so much more to see in the city, but as far as this summer is concerned Sheffield By The Seaside and The Herd of Sheffield have fun cornered, the Millennium Galleries have art, culture and local heritage covered and the Town Hall and Winter Gardens have juxtaposing architectures nailed! What more do you need in a city day out?!
Note: the Herd of Sheffield roams the city till the 5th October 2016, while the Little Herd can be spotted at indoor locations until the 30th September 2016.
What are your recommendations for my next trip back to Sheffield?