The city of Lancaster has a long and diverse history, having gained its first charter in 1193. The historic castle that is situated in the heart of the city centre dates back to the 12th century, and is one of the best preserved castles in the country – it's open to the public and is a fascinating place to visit. Further development throughout the 18th and 19th centuries made Lancaster a major business centre and, since the foundation of Lancaster University in 1964, the city now has a strong educational focus too. More recently, Lancaster was ranked as one of the top ten most vibrant cities in the UK, thanks to its established arts scene and dynamic student population.
Many examples of impressive Georgian architecture remain across the city, and now play home to a busy commercial and cultural centre. The city has a thriving shopping scene, with many independent shops and boutiques nestled alongside stores from most major retailers. The bustling Charter Market can be found in the heart of the city's historic centre every Wednesday and Saturday, and the Assembly Rooms boast an eclectic mix of stalls selling vintage, period and retro clothing, comic books, art and memorabilia.
By day, a strong 'coffee culture' vibe runs throughout the city, with the Atkinson's roaster wafting its aroma onto China Street and Castle Hill, and many cafés and bars dotted around the centre. The city's past comes to life through its quirky nooks and crannies, and there are five museums where you can explore the history of the city, from its stories of witches to its rich industrial and cultural heritage. Up the hill from the city centre lies Williamson Park, with its Butterfly House and the Ashton Memorial, the renowned folly that is visible from across the city and beyond.
Lancaster's nightlife buzzes with live music at the many traditional pubs and wine bars within the city, situated along the banks of the canal, through the streets and even underneath the city in the castle's former wine cellars. The Students' Union own and run The Sugarhouse nightclub in the city centre that is open exclusively to students and offers free return buses to campus.
The city's theatres and arts venues (including the Dukes on Moor Lane and the Grand Theatre on St. Leonard's Gate) provide an all-year-round calendar of cultural shows, films and performances – for the latest listings, download the Lancaster Arts City app. Venues regularly play host to major comedy and theatrical tours too.
Lancaster's diverse mix of city, coast & countryside adds a whole new dimension to the student experience – whilst those studying at Lancaster have all the benefits of a campus 'village' at their disposal, there's so much more to explore and discover within the city and the local area.
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