The Creative Quarter – Nottingham’s Coolest Community

Back to top

The Creative Quarter – Nottingham’s Coolest Community

Author: Ellen Boyd


I first came to Nottingham two years ago, all the way from a small town in Northern Ireland to study Fashion Communication and Promotion at Nottingham Trent University. Having only ever visited England once aged 12, you can imagine how nervous I was to live in a bustling city like Nottingham!

Don’t get me wrong, at first, my switch to city life was amazing. All the high street fashion such as Zara I could once only access online, as well as a plethora of restaurants and bars all within walking distance was amazing! I felt like I was living in a mini-London!

However, the novelty quickly wore off. Of course, I still loved what the city had to offer, but I really missed the sort of homely, small-town vibe I was used to. I hadn’t ventured much out of the main city centre or areas close by the University building at all, but that was until I had a task to complete in my first year in which I was sent out to “find cool places” in Nottingham. I was sent on a wild goose chase down to an area I had never heard of.

The area in question was called The Creative Quarter, which encompassed three places called Lace Market, Sneinton and Hockley. Sneinton? How do I even pronounce that! (Was my first thought). Nevertheless, I typed it in to Google Maps, and off I went.

Flash forward two years and the Creative Quarter is, in my opinion, the best area of the city. As a student studying a creative subject, I feel really connected to this area, because it really helps my own creative flow. The Creative Quarter sets out with the purpose of “providing support for the creative and digital sector in Nottingham city, as well as making the area geographically defined as the CQ a great place to live, learn, work and invest.” The area is packed full of opportunities for creative people to display talents, learn and even have fun – all while advocating for the creative industries.

One area of Sneinton that I love is the Market Avenues. It is now more important than ever to support local talent and independent businesses, especially since COVID. For many of these businesses and sellers, their livelihoods took a hit in not being able to trade in person, so I have found it important to support and help local businesses get back on their feet. Luckily, here, you will find no shortage of these. From Chocolate makers, Coffee roasters, Plants and Jewellery, this is just a small example of the independent businesses you can support. The thing that struck me the most is how supportive all the traders are of each other. Each stall makes recommendations to visit another rather than competing, which creates a positive and uplifting community.

My favourite area is Hockley. Particularly “The Carousel”.  This is an amazing underrated (in my opinion!!) space for creatives to attend workshops, rent studio space and an outlet to showcase local arts, with events and exhibitions celebrating music and film being hosted on a regular nightly basis. Over the years I have attended events such as “Drink and Draw”, and a fun DJ set called “Feline Fine” that celebrated the talents of local female DJ’s.

I also love Hockley for the many festivals and street fairs that happen throughout the year, aiming to celebrate creativity in the city. Especially Hockley Hustle which happened recently in October. Hockley Hustle was in-person this year for the first time since COVID and is described as a music, arts and community festival. The mini-festival celebrated creativity by showcasing local musicians, artists and dancers. Not forgetting the delicious foods that talented chefs from around the Quarter dish up. If this isn’t simply fantastic on its own, the festival raises money for charities all around the county.

The overall feel of the Creative Quarter is very, well … creative!  There is amazing street art on every corner, as well as colourful and decorate shop fronts that catch your eye.  Even on the dullest of days, the Quarter will always shine bright. In fact, the whole area feels very DIY, but modern, trendy and youthful, with café and shop fronts that are aesthetically pleasing, such as the new coffee shop ‘Dispatch’. Decorated with eye-catching pinks and pretty pastels, the beautiful interior and vivid colour scheme make getting your everyday latte feel like a scene from a Wes Anderson film. The Quarter attracts many different people who all have different styles and cultures; I have heard Hockley described as the “Soho” of Nottingham, but I would argue it is better!

I want to make a special shout-out to my favourite café called Blend which is down in this area. I frequent here once a week as it is spacious and the joyful bright, colourful atmosphere really motivates me to get my uni work done – and even visit when I’m getting stuck into a project as the delicacies are to die for. Word of advice: try the beetroot latte!!!

Not very many cities have such a strong community like this, with so many creative independent businesses and companies that all support each other and often get together to collaborate, which is why I feel so lucky to be a creative student with Sneinton readily accessible to me. To my fellow creatives, I highly recommend a visit if you have never been – there are so many opportunities to show and celebrate your creativity no matter what your discipline is – whether you make jewellery, art or even bread, there is an abundance of possibilities to showcase your creations and be uplifted by a positive community.


Author: Ellen Boyd