This is summer: Cities

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It may seem strange to go to a city when everyone's gone to the coast, but summer's a great time to take in cultural attractions and culinary temptations

Brighton

Why come here?
Brighton is best known for its pebble beach, Palace Pier and dirty weekends, but there's more to this progressive, permissive city – like a thriving music, art and theatre scene, and more nightclubs per square mile than anywhere else in the country.

The summer event

Pride Carnival, 2 August, Madeira Drive to Preston Park (01273 775939). www.brightonpride.org
The parade through Brighton will culminate in the Pride Park Celebration, featuring a big top dance tent, cabaret tent and fun fair.



Where to stay

myhotel, 17 Jubilee Street, BN1 (01273 900 300). www.myhotels.com
Feng Shui meets Indian mysticism at this quirky new boutique hotel, which features one of Brighton's best cocktail bars and restaurant by celebrity chef Aldo Zilli.



Where to eat

Affordable – Bodega d Tapa, 111 Church Street, BN1 (01273 674116).
This tiny but authentic Spanish tapas bar has a great list of wines and sherries.

Special – The Meadow, 64 Western Road, Hove BN3 (01273 721182) www.themeadowrestaurant.co.uk

Accomplished chef Will Murgatroyd uses local meat, fish and vegetables for his highly seasonal menus.

****

Leeds

Why come here?
The re-invention of Leeds as the quintessential cosmopolitan northern city can be traced back to 1996 when Harvey Nichols opened its first store outside London in the city's historic Victoria Quarter shopping area. Now, there's more sleek and chic restaurants and bars than you can shake a cocktail swizzle stick at. But there's history and culture too, in the form of the Royal Armouries, with its collection of arms and armour, and cutting-edge theatre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.



The summer event

Leeds Festival, 22 to 24 AugustBramham Park (0871 231 0821) www.leedsfestival.com
A three-day riffathon headed up by the thunderous Metallica.

Where to stay

Residence 6, 3 Infirmary Street, City Square, LS1 (0113 285 6250) www.residencesix.com
One- and two-bedroom apartments are available by the night – a luxurious but affordable alternative to checking into a hotel at £140 per night.



Where to eat

Affordable – Battered, 5a Brewery Place, LS10 (0113 243 5761) www.batteredfish.co.uk
Enjoy Dom Pérignon 1999 with your breaded scampi at this 'gourmet' fish and chip restaurant.

Special – No 3 York Place, 3 York Place, LS1 (0113 245 9922) www.no3yorkplace.co.uk
There's polished service and outstanding modern European cooking in relaxed surroundings at this hidden gem.

****

Liverpool

Why come here?
As European Capital of Culture for 2008, there has never been a better time to visit Liverpool. But, besides the dozens of art, music, theatre and sporting events scheduled for this year, the city is undergoing a more permanent transformation. The Liverpool ONE shopping centre, up-market restaurants, such as Panoramic, and the Malmaison boutique hotel are giving the city a welcome facelift.

The summer event

Liverpool Shakespeare Festival, 31 July to 7 September, Liverpool Cathedral and St James Gardens, 6 Cathedral Close, St James Mount, L1 (0151 727 1703) www.theliverpoolshakespearefestival.co.uk
Open-air productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Winter's Tale.

Where to stay

Hard Days Night Hotel, Central Buildings, North John Street, L2 (0151 236 1964) www.harddaysnighthotel.com
The Lennon suite at this Beatles-themed hotel comes complete with white baby grand piano. Doubles from £120 per night.

Where to eat

Affordable – The Monro, 92-94 Duke Street, L1 (0151 707 9933) www.themonro.com
Liverpool's only gastropub features an eclectic menu including seared tuna, sesame and bean sprout salad with sweet soy and chilli dressing.

Special – The London Carriage Works, 40 Hope Street, L1 (0151 705 2222) www.hopestreethotel.co.uk
Fine dining at this multi-award winning restaurant might take the form of loin of organic pork with Cox apples and fava bean purée.

****

Bath

Why come here?
Bath is Britain's best preserved city. The Royal Crescent, Circus and Great Poultney Street are stunning examples of Georgian architecture, while the Spa offers a fascinating insight into Roman times. It's also something of a favourite with foodies, who come to shop at The Fine Cheese Company, learn to bake bread at The Bertinet Kitchen cookery school or eat at Demuths, one of the country's finest vegetarian restaurants.

The summer event

The Sir Peter Hall Company summer residency at the Theatre Royal, Sawclose, BA1 (01225 448844) www.theatreroyal.org.uk
A season of five productions includes Alison Steadman starring in a revival of Alan Bennett's 1980 play Enjoy.



Where to stay

Queensberry Hotel, Russell Street, BA1 (01225 447928)www.thequeensberry.co.uk
Minimalist but luxurious boutique hotel created from four 18th-century townhouses. Doubles from £115 per night.



Where to eat

Affordable – Gascoyne Place, 1 Sawclose, BA1 (01225 445854) www.gascoyneplace.com
An up-market city centre dining pub with caring service and cracking modern European grub.

Special – Bath Priory, The Bath Priory Hotel and Restaurant, Weston Road, BA1 (01225 331922) www.thebathpriory.co.uk
A country house hotel in the city where the health-conscious haute cuisine not only looks good but tastes great too.

****

Norwich

Why come here?
Norwich claims to be Britain's most complete medieval city with more than1,500 historic buildings, including an impressive cathedral and castle. But Norwich isn't just for history buffs. An excellent open-air market coupled with the numerous independent stores in the Lanes area make for some unique shopping opportunities. Fans of Delia Smith will want to make a pilgrimage to the famous cookery writer's restaurant at the Norwich City football ground.



The summer event

Norwich Comedy Festival, 5-9 August, Chapelfield Gardens (0870 444 1902) www.redcardcomedyclub.com
Robin Ince, Sean Meo and Bob Mills star in the city's third annual gag-fest.



Where to stay

St Giles House Hotel, 41-45 St Giles Street, NR2 (01603 275180) www.stgileshousehotel.com
No expense was spared converting this handsome Baroque building into a luxurious 24-room boutique hotel. A weekend break costs £360, including two nights' b&b, dinner for two (excluding drinks) and two one-hour beauty treatments, a welcome drink and late checkout.



Where to eat

Affordable – Mackintosh's Canteen, Unit 410, Chapelfield Plain, NR2 (01603 305280) www.mackintoshscanteen.co.uk
Designer canteen serving well made, comforting dishes, including burgers, steaks and macaroni cheese.

Special – Adlard's, 79 Upper Giles Street, NR2 (01603 633522) www.adlards.co.uk
Dine on pan-seared grey mullet with Venus clams, spring greens and new potatoes in this intimate and romantic restaurant.

****

Edinburgh

Why come here?
While many of Britain's city centres have become an collection of multiple retailers, Edinburgh has retained its character: from the brooding presence of the magnificent 12th-century castle to the cobbled alleys and lanes that branch off the historic Royal Mile. Galleries and museums include the National Gallery of Scotland with a collection that spans the Renaissance to the 19th century.

The summer event

Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 3-25 August (0131 473 2000) www.eif.co.uk
The largest arts festival in the world features more than 2,000 shows at around 250 venues across the city.



Where to stay

Glasshouse Boutique Hotel, 2 Greenside Place, EH1 (0131 525 8200) www.theetoncollection.com
A sleekly converted church close to Princes Street which boasts the city's only rooftop garden. Rooms available from £160 midweek between 11 July and 7 August.



Where to eat

Affordable – Kalpna, 2/3 St Patrick's Square, EH8 (0131 667 9890) www.kalpnarestaurant.com
Superb Gujarati vegetarian cuisine; the Thaalis are particularly good value.

Special – The Kitchin, 78 Commercial Quay, Leith, EH6 (0131 555 1755) www.thekitchin.com
The finest Scottish produce is given an inventive French twist at this buzzy Michelin-starred establishment.

****

Belfast

Why come here?
The end of the Troubles coupled with sustained investment has transformed Belfast. The city has added the Odyssey Area and the Waterfront concert hall to its list of world-class performance venues, which also include the historic Grand Opera House. The vibrant nightlife runs the gamut from traditional folk music to electronica.



The summer event

Big River Blues and Jazz Festival, 21-24 August, Cathedral Quarter (077 3341 9649)www.bigriverbluesandjazz.com
The line up includes top 1960s group The Animals playing with guitar legend, Steve Cropper.



Where to stay

The Merchant Hotel, 35-39 Waring Street, BT1 (028 9023 4888)www.themerchanthotel.com
A gloriously over the top affair with antique Baccarat chandeliers in the bar and a chauffeur-driven Bentley available for hire. 'Summer in the City' offer – until 30 August 2008, Sundays to Wednesdays, £160 per room per night includes dinner, bed and breakfast.



Where to eat

Affordable – Mourne Seafood Bar, 34-36 Bank Street, BT1 (028 9024 8544) www.mourneseafood.com
Exotic starters – including salt and chilli squid with chilli jam – supplement the range of fresh and simply prepared local seafood.

Special – Deanes, 36-40 Howard Street, BT1 (028 9033 1134)www.michaeldeane.co.uk
Fine dining in a contemporary milieu from highly acclaimed local chef, Michael Deane.

****

Cardiff

Why come here?
All sorts of people visit Cardiff: sports fans attend major international events at the Millennium Stadium. Dr Who fanatics tour the TV series' filming locations around the city and visit the Dr Who Up Close exhibition at the Red Dragon Centre in Cardiff Bay. History buffs discover the city's Roman and Norman past through its castle and National Museum. And culture vultures flock to the performance and exhibition spaces at Wales Millennium Centre.



The summer event

Admiral Cardiff Big Weekend, 1-3 August, Civic Centre (029 2087 2087) www.cardiff-festival.com
See indie band of the moment Glasvegas at the UK's largest free, outdoor music festival.



Where to stay

The Royal Hotel, 10 St Mary Street, CF10 (029 2055 0750) www.theroyalhotelcardiff.com
This stylish boutique offering city views has been recently refurbished. Lloyds TSB Welsh Proms offer between 17 and 26 July: two tickets for the Welsh Proms at St David's Hall and one night's accommodation for two sharing with breakfast, from £58 per person per night.



Where to eat

Affordable – The Armless Dragon, 97 Wyeverne Road, CF24 (029 2038 2357)www.armlessdragon.co.uk
Good-value 'contemporary Welsh cuisine', which might include skate wing with a cockle and leek sauce and Pembrokeshire new potatoes.

Special – Gilbys @ the Bay, Wales Millennium Centre, Bute Place, CF10 (029 2045 9000) www.gilbysthebya.co.uk
Modern European dishes such as smoked topside of Usk Valley beef with celeriac remoulade served up in a smart dining room in the heart of the city.

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