I am a writer and teacher, out and about in the world but with Nottingham never far from my heart.
Published December 28th 2014
Let the beach come to you next summer
Summer seems like a distant memory now that winter is closing its frosty grip around Nottingham. The slate-grey concrete slabs of Old Market Square now reflect the drab expanse up above and the omnipresent film of murky water covering London Road makes the highway almost indistinguishable from the river which flows beneath it at Trent Bridge.
But don't despair. What better time to reminisce about summers gone? Or – better yet – look forward to summers yet to come? Each summer, a patch of the city centre – at least 55 miles from the seaside in any given direction – is transformed into a beach resort. And 2015 will be no exception!
The Nottingham Riviera
Despite its geographical location, Nottingham is in fact no stranger to beaches. A mock-up of a traditional English seaside town appeared in the city centre three times in the 1990s, but it was not until 2009 that the practice became a regular fixture in the city's calendar.
Since then, The Nottingham Riviera, as it has become known, has attracted thousands of visitors to the city centre each year. Open from mid July till early September, the event's organisers use 250 thousand tonnes of sand and spend a quarter of a million pounds each year recreating a beach resort in the centre of the Midlands city.
What to Expect
It's Nottingham but not as you know it. The famous skyline, shops, restaurants and places of interest are all there, but right in the centre – like a jewel in the crown of Old Market Square – is the Nottingham Riviera, with its beach, pool and scores of stalls and attractions.
Just like you'd expect at a beach resort, there are rides and amusements for all – including seaside stalwarts like the Pirate Ship and dodgem cars – as well as places to eat, drink and pick up a few souvenirs. There is even a fully licensed bar for those aged 18 and over!
'Mark' the Shark
One of the signatures of The Nottingham Riviera is its huge – and, thankfully, not real – shark. As it stands, the shark is rather poetically named Mark, although judging by the event's website this might not be the case for long!
The event also plays host to a range of activities. 2014 saw Latin dance classes taking place every Wednesday in the bar area, exhibitions provided by the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery and live screenings of sporting events.
A full program of live entertainment also featured in 2014, ranging from jazz performances and world music to magic shows and even historical plays. The itinerary has yet to be released for 2015, but it's sure to provide the icing on what is already a truly sumptuous cake.
Old Market Square in winter. It's still got potential
In the meantime, we will have to make do with the chill and drizzle of a Midlands winter for a little while longer. But, next time you walk down the hill from the Royal Centre to Old Market Square and are greeted with the familiar clock face of the Council House gazing down upon you, give yourself time for a daydream about how much difference a bit of sun, fun and a whole lot of sand can make!