I believe in my heart of hearts that anyone passing through Luton should stop and give the town a full chance. I have written a few articles about my love for Luton before. From why it’s not the third worst town in the UK, to why it should be considered for city status in the future.
But, in the inevitable backlash that I get from writing about the town I love to call home, I often get asked “what is there to go and do in Luton?”. Whilst on the surface there seems to be only a handful of notable things to do, there are a considerable number of things to see, do, taste and most of all embrace in and around my hometown.
While you might not think of Luton as the place to go to add items to your bucket list, there are some amazing sights to see. So here are twenty things people should go and do in Luton – before they die.
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1. Visit Kenilworth Road – home of Luton Town FC
There’s nowhere better to be on a Saturday afternoon than cheering on the Hatters at Kenilworth Road. One of the most unique football grounds in the country, it’s soon to be demolished as the club moves on to Power Court. Mind you, if you are reading this in the future, the football team could be in the Premier League.
2. Visit The Arndale Center (aka The Mall)
Once Europe’s biggest shopping centre, locals will refuse to call it ‘The Mall’. As it celebrates its fiftieth birthday this year, it’s incredible walking through just how much has changed – but how much of the legacy remains. Make sure you find the pink flamingos!
3. See the Luton International Carnival
Europe’s biggest one-day International Carnival (take that Notting Hill!), the sights, sounds and smells of the day encapsulates the diversity and multi-culturalism of the town. With the parade and plenty of live music throughout the day, it’s a must-see at the end of May each year.
4. Go bowling at The Galaxy
There’s nothing better to do on a Saturday than to go bowling in The Galaxy Centre, where you can find yourself lost in fun and frolics for hours on end. Whether catching the latest blockbusters at Cineworld, or checking out Cookies and Cream, there is something for everyone.
5. Walk up Warden Hills
One of two picturesque viewpoints overlooking the town, it’s quietly situated up the A6, just behind Cardinal Newman High School. Also home to South Beds Golf Club, you can also catch a round of golf to admire the views.
6. See “The Lace Lady” of Wardown House
Arguably Luton’s biggest mystery, ‘The Lace Lady’ of Wardown House can spook visitors of Wardown Museum. Some say she is cursed, others say she’s just part of the furniture. I’ll let you be the judge.
7. Eat at Chicken George
Award. win chicken. Do I need to say any more? Better than any KFC, better than any greasy fried chicken shop, there is no better place to be to taste the delicious, succulent goodness that is Chicken George . It can be found in Hitchin Road.
8. Visit Stockwood Park Discovery Center
A fun day out exploring the nature and wildlife of the town, it’s a hidden gem amongst the vastness of Stockwood Park. It’s worth checking out with all the family.
9. Get an Ice Cream at Wardown Park
A little treat when walking around the park, the kiosk is a great pitstop whether having a calm walk around the park, feeding the ducks or playing in the playground, it’s a one-stop-shop for good value food and drink on a nice summer afternoon.
10. Go plane spotting at London Luton Airport
When you have an international airport on your doorstep, you can’t help but see the planes come to land or take off from one of the UK’s busiest airports. Plane spotting is a fun activity to do on a weekend and will help the hours fly away. Here’s where you can find a good location to plane spot.
11. Grab Pizza at Domino’s first UK store
Domino’s Pizza first opened its doors in the UK in Luton with its very first store in New Bedford Road in 1985, and still remains open to this day. It’s madness to think that, before they conquered the UK with stores up and down the land, they called Luton home first. Worth grabbing a slice just for that.
12. Attend the St Patrick’s Day Parade
There is a large Irish Community in Bedfordshire and the annual St Patrick’s Day parade is one of the biggest in the country. The Luton Irish Forum is based in Hitchin Road. It’s a great day tp celebrate the Irish in the town.
13. Attend the Luton Mela
Whilst the Carnival dominates the Luton cultural calendar in the May Bank Holiday weekend, the Mela dominates the August Bank Holiday. music. food. culture. It’s a fantastic event at Wardown Park to celebrate South Asian culture and cuisine.
14. Have Afternoon Tea at Luton Hoo
This country house and estate is another gem in the town’s crown. While the Estate itself is home to a spa, golf course and restaurants, the thing you need to do is take Afternoon Tea within the house. The five-star service and surroundings is quite literally fit for royalty.
15. Go for a swim at Inspire Sports Village
Built for the London Olympic Games ten years ago, the Inspire Sports Village is Luton’s home swimming pool after the Bath Road baths were repurposed into a primary school. It played host to the ITV show “Splash” in 2013 and 2014.
16. Try different cuisines around the town
Across the town, it’s virtually possible to try different food from every corner of the world. From Portuguese to Brazilian, Indian to Chinese and everything in between, there are pockets across the town where there are good outlets for food and culture that are worth giving a try.
17. Find the Bob Marley mural
The last thing you would expect as you come down to the Sundon Park roundabout is to see an illuminated mural of Bob Marley. But on the side of Marsh House is an ode to the Wailers singer which incorporates not only the free spirit of the arts in the town, but the Afro-Caribbean community in the town too. It’s a really cool find.
18. Walk up Stockingstone Road
The other picturesque view across the town is found on the road leading up to Round Green from the town center – Stockingstone Hill. Whether it’s a crisp winter’s day or you’re heading there to see the night sky across the town, it’s a good walk to overlook the vastness of the town’s size.
19. Have a meal at The White House
Last but not least, you wouldn’t be experiencing Luton if you didn’t stop off at The White House. Yes, it’s just your standard Wetherspoons but it’s a pub restaurant that sits at the heart of St George’s Square, and has to be done at least once.