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The city has witnessed the departure of the Mayflower for the New World, the building of the first submarine, the fateful maiden voyage of the Titanic and the creation of the spitfire fighter plane. To celebrate its nautical tradition, the city hosts some of the world’s most prestigious maritime events, drawing hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe to witness the vast array of colourful crafts on Southampton water. Today, it is recognised as the country’s main destination and departure point for the world’s great cruise liners with a constant stream of vast, luxurious floating palaces dashing through the city’s skyline at all times of day and night.
Whether you want to visit one of the best UK art galleries outside London or fancy catching a blockbusting musical, Southampton is place to come to. The city is home to some of the region’s best concert halls and venues, boasting three outstanding art galleries and two magnificent theatres.
Southampton’s world trade links through its harbour are reflected in the wide choice of international cuisine on offer in its restaurants: Oriental, Indian, Mediterranean, American, Mexican or new and traditional British are all represented. Deep within the old town, Oxford Street has developed a reputation as the new home of cosmopolitan chic with its collection of eateries, bars and cafés. Bedford Place also offers an equally enticing dining experience to Oxford Street. It is home to a number of restaurants, cafés and bars.
There are a range of cafés in Southampton to suit anyone's taste and budget. You will find the highest concentration of eateries and coffee shops around Southampton harbour, Oxford Street and Bedford Place.
Like most major towns and cities, Southampton has a burgeoning bar scene. New, fashionable and trendy bars keep popping up on a regular basis, while the more traditional and quintessential British drinking houses – the pubs – remain ever popular. Southampton’s vast array of clubs cater to every kind of musical taste, making it a major draw for students of the city’s two Universities. The compact city centre means you’re never that far from a new, pounding dance floor.
The compact city centre has a variety of department stores, wide pedestrian streets and markets. Markets can be found every Friday and Saturday around the Bargate Monument. Traditional high street shopping is found on the traffic-free Above Bar Street, and specialty shops are available in East Street, High Street, Queensway, Oxford Street, London Road and Bedford Place.
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