As something of a commuter town, Northampton is often spoken of in terms of its access to London, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge among other cities, but Northampton has plenty of activities and attractions in its own right. This large historical town is also host to many historical sites and beautiful parks. Northampton town centre is recognised as a safe and vibrant location for nighttime entertainment.
Shopping in Northampton
There is an array of shopping centres and shops in Northampton to meet every shopping need. On most days, the market square hosts an open air market with various stalls and regular farmers' markets. Abington Street is now a pedestrianised shopping area, and the nearby Grosvenor Centre is home to over 60 restaurants and shops. Don't forget to pick up some locally produced footwear in the shoemaking capital of England.
Weston Favell Shopping Centre is on the outskirts of Northampton, and has over 60 high street and indie shops and restaurants, and it has one of the largest Tesco Extra stores in the UK. Further afield, shoppers can also visit Newlands Centre in Kettering or Swansgate in Wellingborough.
Eating out in Northampton
Northampton presents a surprising range of cuisine from restaurants, cafés and pubs. Although the town is littered with culinary delights throughout, the town centre has the highest concentration of food options. There are plenty of eating options at the abovementioned shopping centres, and the entertainment venues at Lings Forum and Sixfields also have food establishments.
Nightlife and entertainment in Northampton
As a popular university town, there are plenty of pubs, bars and late night clubs throughout Northampton's town centre. There is also some entertainment around the Sixfields Football Stadium, including tenpin bowling, go karting, wall climbing, cinema and live theatre. Lings Forum, near the Weston Favell Shopping Centre, also has a cinema along with a gym, racket courts, swimming pools, a sports hall and a dance studio. The Motorpoint Arena is one of the top entertainment venues in the Midlands, with 10,000 seats it hosts live music events, comedy, shows and sporting events
Outdoor activities in Northampton
Northampton is surrounded and interspersed with too many parks to mention, making for plenty of space to walk, run, cycle, picnic and play sports. Racecourse and Abington Park are two large and centrally located parks; the latter contains the ruins of medieval Abington. Delapré Park contains woods, lakes and the Delapré Abbey.
For those into water sports, the Nene Whitewater Centre has a 300-metre white water course, and Billing Aquadrome is a holiday park with a swimming pool, aqua park, soft play area, fishing lakes and more. For those more into pasture pool than swimming pools, there are golf courses in Collingtree Park, Delapré, Kingsthorpe and Brampton.
See and do in Northampton
Set within 500 acres of beautiful parkland, Wollaton Hall is one of the country's finest Grade One listed Elizabethan houses. There is a museum and there are tours of the interior of the house, and a packed event program, but most people go to enjoy the park, and experience the stunning architecture.
Northampton Museum and Art Gallery
The Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is a celebration of the town's history, shoes and art, and has been operating since 1865. With more than 15,000 shoes, the shoe collection is one of the largest in the world, with items including sandals from Ancient Egypt and Queen Victoria's wedding shoes.
Museum of Leathercraft
Located in the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, the Museum of Leathercraft is the largest collection of leathercraft in England, with over 8,000 items from across the world and throughout history. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the museum is free, though visitors will have to plan ahead and make an appointment.
Abington Park Museum
The Abington Park Museum is located in the old Tudor Abington manor house, and acts as a record of the area's evolution from a medieval estate to the wooded Northampton suburb it is today.
Recently renovated and opened to visitors, Delapré Abbey traces its history back 900 years, when a Cluniac order of nuns founded the Abbey of St Mary de la Pré. In 1460, the Abbey meadow was the site of the Battle of Northampton during the Wars of the Roses. Nowadays, the Abbey hosts guided tours and education visits as well as various events, theatre productions, exhibitions and special displays.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Dating back to 1100, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the oldest standing building in Northampton. The central structure, the Round, was built by Simon de Senlis, a returning Crusader who wanted to create an homage to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The building, recognised as both a National Treasure and a Building of International Significance, is of architectural interest, and visitors can trace the development and expansion of the church through the ages.
What's on in Northampton
Northampton Town Festival (July)
The Northampton Town Festival is an annual celebration of summer held at the immense Racecourse park. Everything imaginable is at the festival, including stalls, bars and displays, fireworks, hot air balloons and live music, stunt performances and fair games.
Autumn Food Festival (October)
Every October, the Abington Park Museum hosts a food festival with free entry. Visitors can take in the sights and smells and – for a price – taste of Northampton's culinary talents.
Christmas events in Northampton are held throughout the month of December, from light trails and carolling to Christmas markets and tree festivals.
Northampton Town & County Art Society Annual Exhibition (December – January)
For over 100 years, the Northampton Town & County Art Society has had an annual showcase of the area's top art. Casual viewers and art enthusiasts alike can make their way to Northampton Museum & Art Gallery to have a look at the year's best.
►For more of an overview, read about Moving to Northampton
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