Exploring Lancaster

Williamson Memorial Park
& Highest Point Festival

Home to 54 acres of beautiful parklands, Williamson Memorial Park is one of the most famous Lancaster attractions. The park was originally created out of the quarries, from which came the stone that built many of Lancaster’s buildings. The site features enchanting walks and breathtaking views of nearby landmarks, including Morecambe Bay, the Fylde Coast and parts of the Lake District. The park also features the Ashton Memorial, a famous Edwardian folly that was a gift to the city from Lord Ashton, and served as a memorial to his second wife, along with the beautiful tropical butterfly house, which includes minibeasts, bird enclosures and a small mammal’s section. In the summer, the site hosts the Highest Point Festival, which has hosted some of the country’s most popular musical acts, including Bastille, Rudimental, Becky Hill and many more.

Lancaster Castle

Looming over the city lies a historic castle home to dark tales of torture, crime and witchcraft. Dating back to Roman times over 1,000 years ago, the castle is owned by King Charles himself, who is the Duke of Lancaster. Until 2011, the castle served as an official HMP Prison, and over its time has seen the sentencing of some of the country’s most notable criminals, as the site’s most famous case was the trials of the Pendle Witches. Over 200 executions took place at the castle, with charges ranging from murder to smaller crimes like stealing cattle. Today, visitors can explore the castle’s dramatic tales along with the site’s fascinating, well-preserved architecture, along with regular events and re-enactments.

Lancaster Grand Theatre

Having functioned in some form continuously since 1782, the Lancaster Grand Theatre is the third oldest theatre in Great Britain. A Grade II Listed building, the theatre still features much of the stone from its heyday and its redesign in 1897 by famed theatre architect Frank Matcham, when it was simply known as “The Theatre.” After a large rebuild following a major fire in 1908, the building was purchased in 1951 by the Lancaster Footlights, a performing troupe who first performed at the theatre in the 1920s and wanted to preserve the historical site. Today, the theatre hosts some of the country’s most popular shows, musical acts, comedians and plenty more.

The Dukes Theatre

Residing in an historic building first built in in 1796, The Dukes Theatre & Cinema has been a cornerstone of Lancaster culture since first opening its doors in 1971. The theatre has a long history of incredible productions and performances from world famous performers, including Dame Harriet Walter, Oscar winner Gloria Grahame, and Sir Ian McKellen. In 2016, Andy Serkis, star of the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Marvel franchises, became an Honorary Patron of the theatre, having performed at the theatre’s first ever “Play in the Park” in 1987. Producing five shows a year including an outdoor Promenade performance and a Christmas family show, the venue also hosts many leading theatre touring productions, and serves as an independent cinema with a varied and extensive programme.

City Museum

Celebrating the city’s unique history, the Lancaster City Museum is a perfect opportunity to delve into the area’s fascinating background. The museum is housed in Lancaster’s former town hall, an elegant Georgian building built between 1781-3 to the designs of Major Thomas Jarrett and Thomas Harrison. Founded in 1923, the museum is home to a varied collection of stories, artifacts and dioramas that guide visitors through the city’s social, industrial and archaeological history, along with tales of the people who have made Lancaster what it is today. There is also a fantastic art collection, a programme of regularly changing exhibitions, and the building is home to the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum, a fascinating look at the military heritage of the city’s own regiment from 1680 onwards.

Maritime Museum

Lancaster’s history was built on the foundations of the city’s maritime industry, and the Maritime Museum tells this incredible story. Occupying two historic buildings on St. George’s Quay, the city’s main 18th Century harbour, the museum was first opened in 1985 in the former Custom House designed by Richard Gillow. The museum also incorporates the upper floors of the neighbouring warehouse, where goods from all over the world were stored. Discover the history of the Port of Lancaster amongst these atmospheric and fascinating buildings, alongside stories from local fishing industry and tales life on the sea. Experience the treacherous crossing of the sands, sit in a packed boat on the Lancaster Canal, and hear about the history of Morecambe Bay.

Judges' Lodgings Museum

Nestled below Lancaster Castle, the Judge’s Lodgings date back nearly 400 years under the roof of the city’s oldest town house. The current house that stands today was built around 1625 by the Keeper of the Castle Thomas Castle. The house is most famous for being the location where the Pendle Witches where imprisoned during the infamous Lancashire Witch Trials. From 1826, the house became a lodging for the travelling Red Judges of the Assize Courts, who presided over trials at Lancaster Castle. In 1975, Lancashire City Council took over the house and turned it into museum, where visitors can explore the restored Judges Rooms and their Regency and Victorian styles, along with the finest collection of Gillow furniture found in the country.

Kingfisher Canal Cruises

Operating year round, Kingfisher Cruises offer visitors the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Lancaster Canal. Running daily cruises during the peak season (May to October), visitors can hop on a cruise from various locations, with the two centre cruises running from Barton Grange and Lancaster during the summer period. The company also offer special cruises for occasions like Christmas, alongside special entertainment cruises for something a little different. These include comedy cruises, murder mystery evenings, and fish, chip and quiz nights.