Southampton is a coastal city with a rich maritime history, on the south coast of England, with population over 235600 people and is just over one hour from London. Southampton is a major commercial port, which also hosts the annual Boat Show, Europe’s leading on water event attracting visitors from all over the world. Since the Pilgrim Fathers stepped onboard the Mayflower for their voyage to the new world in 1620, the port has seen many of the world's greatest and largest liners regularly gracing its shores. The maiden voyage of the Titanic is one of the most memorable. A memorial to the engineers of the Titanic may be found in Andrews Park on Above Bar Street and the Maritime museum in Wool Hall includes a Titanic exhibition.
Described as 'one of the prettiest and healthiest towns in England’, Southampton continues to boast some of the largest open spaces in the country. The 326 acre common dates back to medieval times. We are also surrounded by areas of natural beauty including the New Forest and the Isle of Wight, and connected to the rest of the UK and Europe through superb road, rail, air and sea links.
Southampton also has two major Universities, Southampton Solent University and University of Southampton that has an international reputation.
Since its shipbuilding days in the Middle Ages Southampton has seen a long maritime history. Once the 'gateway to the world', the port has been a stop off for those on their travels to exotic locations. For some it was often their first glimpse of English soil.
Since the Pilgrim Fathers stepped onboard the Mayflower for their voyage to the new world in 1620, the port has seen many of the world's greatest and largest liners regularly gracing its shores.
Southampton is also home to Europe's biggest on-water boat show which takes place every September. The show attracts visitors from around the globe.
As well as a strong maritime heritage, Southampton has seen a history of aviation marvels. The Spitfire, designed for use by the RAF in World War II, was developed and manufactured in Woolston. The single-seat fighter plane was designed by Reginald Mitchell (one of the University's buildings is named after him).
Sir Robert MacLean, director of the company behind the plane, named it after his daughter, Ann. He used to call her 'a little spitfire.' The Hall of Aviation celebrates Southampton's contribution to aviation and is an appropriate memorial to the achievements of Spitfire designer Reginald Mitchell.
To find out more about what's on in Southampton, please visit the Southampton City Tourism website.
Art & Culture
Art & Galleries
These days everywhere in Britain seems to be a city of culture but few places can genuinely match Southampton's cultural offerings: Outstanding art galleries, two magnificent theatres, countless concerts, festivals and events. Whether you want to see new films or classic ballets, hear traditional jazz or the latest garage, admire paintings or photographs, you'll find it in Southampton.
The magnificent City Art Gallery has over 3,500 works of art covering six centuries of European culture from the Italian Renaissance to French Impressionism. Its core collection of 20th Century British art is internationally renowned. Already voted Fine Art Museum of the Year in 1994, the City Art Gallery was described in 2003 as 'one of the best place outside London to see British modern art and studio ceramics' (The Independent 3 July 2003).
In addition we recommend you visit John Hansard Gallery and Bargate Monument Gallery
Southampton has a particularly large selection of museums that document its past achievements. A few of the most popular ones are listed below.
Museum of Archaeology, Maritime Museum, Medieval Merchants House, Tudor House Museum and Garden, Solent Sky (Hall of Aviation).
Southampton’s theatres offer a wide range of productions from Shakespeare to modern masters at a variety of locations around the city.
The Mayflower theatre in the city centre of Southampton with a capacity of 2,300. The theatre opened on the 22nd December 1928 as The Empire Theatre, part of the Moss Empire theatre group. It is the largest theatre in the south of England. The theatre's proximity to Southampton Central railway station made its location ideal. As part of the Rank Organisation the theatre was included on many tours of Rock & Roll groups including Bill Haley & His Comets in 1957 and The Beatles in 1963.
In 1983 Southampton City Council bought the building for £650,000 and a refurbishment of £3 million. The theatre opened as The Mayflower on the 24th February 1987 with a production of Peter Pan starring Bonnie Langford, with the official opening gala televised in May of the same year. This changed with the introduction of major pantomimes. These attracted huge audiences, peaking with 1994's Dick Whittington starring Lesley Joseph and John Nettles which attracted 126,256 theatregoers.
Click on the links below to see what's on offer:
Films and Festivals
If film is what you are after, then the thirteen-screen Odeon at Leisureworld or the multi-screen Cineworld Cinema at Ocean Village will satisfy with a wide choice of new films. There is also the stunning art house cinema, The Harbour Lights Picture House overlooking the Ocean Village Marina, which shows independent and European films. Relax at the café bar before your show or go on a Sunday and hear live jazz.
Southampton Jazz Club meets regularly on Tuesdays at the University of Southampton.
Southampton’s entertainment venues and night life rival those of any European capital. Whether it’s a meal, a film or a concert we can guarantee you a large variety of exciting choices.
Pubs & Clubs
Southampton has a particularly vast selection of pubs and clubs. Most pubs and bars are open from 11am and close between 11pm and 2am. You can take advantage of the locally brewed beers and enjoy typical English pub food at a cheaper price than in most restaurants.
If the British are famous for anything it's our sense of humour. People from the South of England are renowned for their quick witted and down to earth approach to life. Originating in the local working men's clubs, the Southern sense of humour has proven to be one of our most successful exports to date.
In recent years Southampton's dining out opportunities have multiplied on a large scale. With Southampton's growing cosmopolitan population, food from all over the world is readily available. Whether it's traditional English food, fusion cooking, Thai, Mexican, Turkish, Indian, French or Italian, you will easily find what you're looking for.
Oxford Street is a great location in the city centre with a buzz of bars and
restaurants, why not visit their dedicated website www.oxfordstreetsouthampton.com to find out more.
Southampton has always been the place to buy the best with its superb mix of high quality shopping centres. The College is about ten minutes from the city centre.
IKEA, WestQuay, Bargate and Mall Marlands, traditional shops and boutiques together with designer retail spaces has elevated the city into the UK's top 20 retail destinations. A visionary plan to transform the urban centre is now under way and is set to continue Southampton's reign as the 'Emporium of the South' in the 21st century.
Southampton provides a wide range of sporting opportunities from Climbing to Football.
Southampton Municipal Golf Course offers two superb, well-established courses, challenging for the experienced golfer and at the same time suitable for the beginner.
Why not try your skills at skiing, snowboarding or snowblading at the Southampton Alpine Centre based at the Southampton Sports Centre at Bassett.
If you would like a swim, there are 3 swimming pools across the city. These are
- The Quays Swimming and Diving Complex
- Bitterne Leisure Centre
- Oaklands Swimming Pool
If sitting back and watching professional sport is more to your taste then you will enjoy the superb modern facilities at the Rose Bowl, state-of-the-art cricket ground and home of Hampshire County Cricket Club. Constructed in 2000, the ground has since witnessed numerous high-profile international cricket matches. With a £45 million development plan underway, The Rose Bowl is set to be one of the greatest cricket and entertainment sites in the world.
Southampton Football Club play football in their strip of red and white at the superb, 32,000 seater at St Mary's Stadium. Southampton's football team was founded in 1885 by members of the St Mary's Church of England Young Men's Association. Early practices took place on the Common until £10,000 stadium, The Dellwas was built in 1898.
The club changed its name to Southampton Football Club and went on win the FA Cup in 1976. After 103 years at The Dell, the club moved to the new stadium in 2001. St Mary's as is one of the only stadium in Europe that meets UEFA's Four Star Criteria. With a capacity of over 30 000, the stadium has had a huge impact on the city of Southampton.
Considerable investment over the last 10 years has seen the clubs training facilities improve immensely. They are now thought to be among the best in the country. Southampton was unfortunately relegated from the Premier League on May 15 2005. The club currently plays in the Championship.
Bowls has a long established tradition in Southampton. The game is thought to have been first played regularly on the Southampton Old Bowling Green in 1299. Established during the reign of Richard I, the world's oldest bowling green is still in use today.