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18 things to do in South Yorkshire

Emma Johansson, from Sweden, is studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Media at Sheffield Hallam University. Here, she takes us on a tour of her favourite things to see and do in the region...

‘With stunning views of the Peak District, a vibrant music scene and a passion for culture and sport, Sheffield and the wider area of South Yorkshire have a lot to offer students. In the industrial heartland of England, you can always find something to keep you entertained.

'Let me take you on a journey of some of the highlights of South Yorkshire:

1. Located within one of Rotherham's many former steelworks is Magna Science Adventure Centre. Learn about various aspects of the local steel heritage, as well as the natural elements used in steel-making, with numerous interactive hands-on exhibitions for both young and old.

2. Enjoy a play at the award-winning Sheffield Theatres. With three theatres next door to each other (the Crucible, the Lyceum and the Studio), you are always spoilt for choice – there are many Sheffield Theatres productions as well as touring West End shows.

The Crucible Theatre, in Sheffield's city centre (Photo ©Diana Jarvis)

3. Visit one of the region's most prominent centres for art, craft and design. The Millennium Gallery in Sheffield offers some of the metalwork that has made the city famous, as well as contemporary art and design. You can even buy your very own designer souvenir in the gift shop, where there are lots of unique pieces by local designers.

4. Go and explore the beautiful Peak District. This was the UK’s first National Park, and it’s one of the most popular parks in the world. Walk, cycle, hike, rock climb or just enjoy the view, there is something for everyone.

A well-earned rest for two hikers in the Peak District (Photo ©VisitBritain/Daniel Bosworth)

5. Join a sports team! South Yorkshire takes a lot of pride in sport, and many sports champions such as Jessica Ennis trained for their Olympic victories right here. South Yorkshire Sport and the English Institute of Sport offer a lot of activities throughout the region, so why not give it a go?

6. Enjoy a good concert at one of the many music venues across the region. South Yorkshire has got a lot to offer when it comes to music – you can see famous international bands at big concert venues, or discover local bands at small gigs at the pub or your students’ union.

7. Get even closer to the music at South Yorkshire's only inner-city music festival, Tramlines! With a varied line-up playing on stages across Sheffield, this event is hard to miss.

Concert venues and open-air stages come alive across the city each summer (Photo ©University of Sheffield)

8. Take a day out to enjoy some artGraves Gallery has been home to Sheffield's visual art collection since 1934 and there are lots of exhibitions, both traditional and contemporary. And did I mention it's free?

9. Have a picnic in one of South Yorkshire’s many award-winning parks. Sheffield alone has over 50 parks, and they come in every shape and size imaginable! Don’t miss the beautiful Botanical Gardens, with 19 acres of land, a glass pavilion dating back to 1836, and plants from all over the world.

A smaller park in the city centre, Sheffield's Peace Garden is a perfect lunch spot (Photo ©VisitEngland Images)

10. Football is a big thing in the UK, and South Yorkshire has many teams to offer, such as Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley FC, Rotherham United and Doncaster Rovers. Watching a football game at your local stadium is an essential experience.

11. Go shopping at Meadowhall, one of England's largest shopping centres. With over 1.5 million visitors per year and 280 shops, I guarantee it will fulfil all your shopping needs!

12. Transport yourself to an exotic forest in Sheffield's Winter Garden. Marvel at the stunning architecture, get to know over 2,500 plants, or just sit down for a cup of coffee.

Sheffield's Winter Garden – the largest urban glasshouse in Europe! (Photo ©VisitEngland Images)

13. Dig into some tasty food! The annual Sheffield Food Festival is a feast of delicious dishes and cooking classes, or visit one of South Yorkshire’s many farmers’ markets and international food markets – a budget-friendly way to fill your tummy with food from around the world.

14. Get caught up in another world at the Off the Shelf Festival of Words. This literature festival offers a great variety of readings, workshops, poetry and competitions, attracting some of the best-known names in literature and media.

15. Kelham Island Museum sits on a man-made island in one of South Yorkshire's oldest industrial districts. The museum showcases the story of Sheffield from early industrialisation to modern times, and even includes a brewing gallery with a traditional bar!

16. Go on a safari adventure in the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, just outside Doncaster. With walkthrough areas in different animal habitats, you can get up close and personal with animals from around the world.

A pair of friendly giraffes, just two of the animals you could see in South Yorkshire (Photo ©VisitEngland Images)

17. For more wildlife, check out the Tropical Butterfly House, just a short drive from Sheffield. As the name suggests there are plenty of butterflies, but you’ll also see lemurs, meerkats, snakes, owls, and much more.

18. Step back in time to the 18th century, at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet. Explore the lives of the people who ran the steelworks, learning about traditional crafts and skills which are displayed throughout the year.

'Most importantly – relax and enjoy your time here! You can find more great ideas for things to do in South Yorkshire at Welcome to Yorkshire and Welcome to Sheffield.'

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