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Looking back on the best of 2023

From mud-soaked celebrations of live music to game-changing new openings, here are some key highlights that made 2023 one to remember in the Steel City…

Frank & Joy – A Love Story
A Pete McKee hometown show is often an event to remember, and true to form, ‘Frank & Joy – A Love Story’ was a warm, nostalgic affair that packed a weighty emotional punch, too. Centred around the eponymous couple featured in the artist’s much-loved mural ‘The Snog’, the Sheffield artist’s latest exhibition saw the creation of a fictional pub, ‘The Buffer’s Arms’, decorated with a fresh collection of paintings charting Frank and Joy’s courtship. Paying tribute to the pubs and people that keep the Steel City turning, it was another testament to McKee’s ability to weave heartwarming narratives through his art, capturing the essence of Sheffield’s spirit with every stroke and creating a lasting impact on all who came along to see it brought to life.

Pete McKee

Pete McKee

Giving it some welly at Tramlines!
The weather threatened to rain on everyone’s parade at the 15th edition of Sheffield’s biggest bash. And rain it duly did, and then some. However, even though the infamous Hillsborough Park Mudbath of 2023 will be remembered with a shudder for years to come, we still managed to have a good ol’ Tramlines knees-up singing through the storm to Paul Heaton, cutting shapes in the mud to Sugababes and joyously bouncing in puddles with The Courteeners in S6. Amidst the elements, the fringe events flourished this year, as numerous venues generously curated their own lineups, allowing Sheffielders to enjoy the festival vibes for free. Heroes, the lot of yer.

Tramlines 2023

Paul Heaton headlining the main stage at Tramlines 2023

DocFest hits 30
Sheffield DocFest celebrated its 30th edition the way it knows best: six days of film screenings, live podcasts, intriguing Q+As, alternate reality installations, special anniversary exhibitions and memorable evening social soirees. Highlights from the 122-strong film programme included the World Premiere of Paul Sng’s Tsh, Iranian filmmaker Rakhshan Banietemad as Guest of Honour and insightful talks from the likes of Munya Chawawa, David Olusoga, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Laura Whitemore and David Harewood.

Doc Fest

Doc Fest 2023

Homecomings Galore!
Three of the city’s biggest musical exports played sellout gigs in the space of three months, beginning with rock legends Def Leppard performing to 30,000 at Bramall Lane in a show that reportedly could be heard all the way out to Manor Top. The following month, Sheffield’s prodigal sons Arctic Monkeys played to 70,000 across two balmy nights at Hillsborough Park while touring their seventh studio album, The Car. Completing a Holy Trinity of homecomings was the incomparable Jarvis Cocker, who led Pulp back onto a Sheffield stage for the first time in over a decade.

Pulp

Front man of Pulp, Jarvis Cocker leading the band on stage for their first Sheffield show in a decade

Exposed Awards 2023
Our annual awards ceremony took over Peddler Warehouse in May, transforming the venue into our swanky do celebrating the best that Sheffield has to offer. Each year we’re humbled by the turnout on the night, not to mention the thousands who vote to decide the winners beforehand, and the place was packed out with Sheffielders representing a range of industries: music, fashion, hospitality, culture, events and more. There were some very special guests present too! The team behind the Olivier Award-winning musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge received the Sarah Nulty Special Recognition Award and cast member Rachel Wooding wowed the crowd with a live performance of ‘After The Rain’.

Exposed awards

Celebrations from this year’s Exposed Awards

Fagans Lives On
It was the end of an era when long-standing custodians Tom and Barbara called last orders on their 37 years in charge of Fagans. Thankfully, the legacy of one of the city’s best-loved traditional boozers was allowed to continue through a group of Sheffielders – including Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys fame – who have kept the drinks flowing, the trad sessions swinging and the warm soul of the iconic boozer very much intact.

Fagans

Fagan’s pub, now with a new lease of life

Theatre Deli Takes Centre-Stage
Following eviction from their Eyre Street venue in January 2022, it was great to see Theatre Deli open the doors to their new home on Arley Street in July. From comedy, dance and improv, to live music, immersive mystery games and poetry, there’s been the usual heady mix of live performance taking place, which will undoubtedly continue with their 2024 programme.

Theatre Deli

Crowds gathering at the opening night of Theatre Deli (credit: Lawson Howling Photography)

Migrations Matters Speaks Up
Now in its 12th year, it feels like the message underpinning Migration Matters Festival becomes more prescient year on year. Taking place in June, the only UK festival of its kind proudly stood up and hailed Sheffield as a place of cultural sanctuary amidst national anti-migrant rhetoric. A wide-ranging events programme covered everything from inspiring workshops and talks, to theatre, film and and music performances from global artists such as Kenyan afro pop band Sauti Sol.

Migration Matters

Migration Matters Festival from June 2023

Get Together Takes over Kelham
It was a pleasure to celebrate the return of Get Together to Sheffield on a sun-soaked Saturday afternoon in May, this time with an new home to enjoy. After two hugely successful years at the students’ union, the festival spread its wings to Kelham Island for an all-dayer boasting some of the best up-and-coming bands from around the country, as well as a headline set from noughties indie darlings Friendly Fires and parties through to the wee hours.

Get Together

Get Together 2023

Pearl at Park Hill Arrives
The regeneration of Park Hill continues apace, with September arrival Pearl at Park Hill bringing first-rate cocktails, craft beers and natural wines to the table at Europe’s largest listed building. Since opening their ‘perfect local’, co-owners Jack Wakelin and Tom Aronica have been received plenty of deserved credit for their stunning drinks selection, small plate accompaniments (the oysters are superb) and laid-back weekend DJ sets. The beer garden also boasts one of the finest urban views that you’re likely to find amongst these seven hills.

Pearl at Park Hill

Jack Wakelin and Tom Aronica, the duo behind Pearl at Park Hill

Orchard Square Gets a Spruce-up
The city centre retail hub revealed a suave new look earlier this year, marking 35 years since its original opening. To complement the refurb, a number of new occupants have opened up shop at Orchard Square, injecting a needed vibrancy to the open-air space. The Old Shoe now offers one of the finest craft beer, cider and natural wines selections in the region, Proove Pizza have brought their authentic Neapolitan pizza to the square, and Gameshow All-Stars now gives you the chance to try out your favourite TV challenges in a social setting.

orachard square

The newly revamped Orchard Square

Sound as a Pound
As small teaser of what’s to come from the Heart of the City development, a brand-new public space and playground, Pound’s Park, was opened on 3 April, offering families and children some welcome leisure space in a previously unwelcoming part of the city centre. More of the same in 2024, please!

Pounds Park

Pound’s Park, a glimpse into what’s to come from the Heart of the City development

Off the Shelf Open a New Chapter
One of the most well-known and loved literary festivals in the UK returned for its 32nd edition in October, bringing together the best of local, regional and international literary talent. Renowned figures such as Chris Packham, Jaqueline Wilson and Grace Dent graced the lineup, standing shoulder to shoulder with local authors who delved into memoirs capturing life in Sheffield. Notable among them were Catherine Taylor and Pulp drummer Nick Banks, both of whom we had the pleasure of interviewing about their captivating books.

Nick Banks

Pulp drummer Nick Banks, who Exposed spoke to about his new book ‘From Punk to Pulp’ featured in Off the Shelf,

Exposed Goes The Full Monty!
Twenty-five years after the iconic Sheffield-based cult classic The Full Monty hit the screens, the cast returned to their roots for the premiere of a fresh Disney+ series that revisits the lives of the beloved original characters. Prior to attending a glamorous red carpet event, featuring an exclusive showing at the Showroom and an evening launch party at the Leadmill, Exposed had the delightful opportunity to interview the main cast for our July cover. Hot stuff, indeed!

Full Monty

Robert Carlyle as Gaz for the Full Monty revival

John Makes a Mill!
The collective heart of Sheffield was warmed when we heard the news that John Burkhill (AKA the Man with the Pram) ahead reached the magic £1m milestone in his fundraising efforts for Macmillan Cancer Support. John reached the incredible landmark after pounding the streets of South Yorkshire for over 15 years, and his efforts were rightly recognised with a Pride of Britain award.

John Burkhill

John Burkhill

Raising a Glass at Sheffield Beer Week
Sheffield Beer Week celebrated its ninth edition from March 6-12, promoting a ‘Going Back to Our Beer Roots’ theme and showcasing the best beer brewed in the Sheffield City Region. The ever-popular Indie Beer Feast was a huge success at Trafalgar Warehouse and beer-lovers in the city had plenty to get enjoy through the week, from tap takeover and brewery collabs to pop-up tastings and insightful talks with brewers.

Beer Week

some of the offerings from Sheffield Beer week 2023

Sensoria
Our homegrown festival of music, film and digital art was on top form this year, providing a series of unique experiences ranging from immersive events in unique spaces to impressive showcases of cutting-edge music technology. Highlights included an intriguing exhibition on brutalism taking place inside the famous Moore Street substation, a live AV performance from post-rock spectacle Nordic Giants and electronic sets celebrating the history of videogame soundtracks.

Sensoria

Sensoria – the homegrown of festival of music, film and digital art

Here’s to an even more stellar 2024!




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