Things to see for FREE in Derby

By Visit Derby

Created July 21, 2016

Last updated March 12, 2023

Historically, the wonderful city of Derby is famous for setting in motion Britain’s Industrial revolution. It’s now a top destination for a city break with events and festivals for everyone. The good news is if you’re on a limited budget, this blog offers great ideas for things to see and do in Derby for FREE.

A hidden gem of Derby’s history, the Bridge Chapel is one of the few chapels of its age remaining in the country and has records that date back to the beginning of the 14th Century. In days gone by, travellers leaving the city would stop at the chapel and say a prayer to ensure that their journey was a safe one. The interior is notable for its quaint simplicity. Of particular interest are the east window, designed by Mary Dobson and the altar designed by Ronald Pope. 

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The Bridge Chapel

Sowter Road, Derby

Derby’s stunning Silk Mill building stands on the site of the world’s first factory and is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mill became the centre of the first-ever industrial espionage, as John Lombe travelled to Italy to steal the secrets of spinning silk. The Silk Mill is a wonderful venue which is home to several creative events for children and adults, as well as showcasing photography and art exhibitions.

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Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Silk Mill Lane, Derby

Derby’s Museum and Art Gallery is home to the largest collection of Joseph Wright paintings in the world as well as a huge collection of intriguing treasures including an Egyptian Mummy. Joseph Wright of Derby is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and innovative British artists of the 18th century and is recognised for his exquisite use of light to capture the spirit of the enlightenment; a period when art, philosophy, science and industry seemed to be part of the same story. There are always lots of fun activities taking place too.

The Museum and Art Gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, and Sunday 12pm – 4pm, closed on Bank Holidays and entry is FREE.

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The Museum and Art Gallery

The Strand, Derby

Come and experience the unique Museum of Georgian Life and Costume at Pickford’s House. Pickford’s House is a stunning townhouse and garden from 1770, designed by prominent Derby architect Joseph Pickford and used as both his family home and as a professional showcase of his architectural skills. This charming museum relives the elegant Georgian times through fine style furnishings and decorations. You will also find exhibits, including a wonderful collection of toy theatres, children’s dressing-up costumes and a new porcelain collection.

The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm. Closed Sunday’s and Bank Holidays and entry is FREE.

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Pickford's House

41 Friar Gate, Derby

Derby Cathedral towers above the city and has the second highest perpendicular church tower in England. A family of peregrine falcons has nested here for many years and several chicks have been raised. Bird watchers and visitors are kept entertained with regular aerial displays. The Cathedral is a fascinating place to visit, you’ll be amazed at how light and airy it is. Discover the awesome tomb of Bess of Hardwick - a creation designed by the powerful lady herself.

The Cathedral is open Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm and Sunday 10am – 4pm and entry is FREE (donations welcome).

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Derby Cathedral

18-19 Iron Gate, Derby

Whilst in Derby you must visit Derby Arboretum, famous for being the first public park in Britain. The park was a trend-setter in that Central Park in New York was based upon its design. Located just south of the city centre, it is a Grade II listed picturesque park with a fine collection of trees.

The park is open daily and is FREE entry.

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Derby Arboretum

Arboretum Square, Derby

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