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From the imposing castle sitting high above the city to the striking Georgian architecture along the riverside, Lancaster's rich history is at almost every turn. And though it's a small city, it punches well above its weight, with two universities - one in the UK Top 10 - and a cultural scene to rival many. Add to that some of the North's most stunning scenery, and it's easy to see why it might be time for a long weekend in Lancaster.

Up until recently, Lancaster Castle was a fully functioning prison, but since 2011, it has been open to the public, revealing over a thousand years of history. Through tours and special events, visitors can learn of the often-dark tales associated with the fortification, including the transportation of convicted prisoners to the West Indies, American colonies and Australia, and the infamous Lancashire Witch trials of 1612.

What trip to the city would be complete without knowing what it would've been like to be locked up in an 18th century cell? For a less bone-chilling experience, you could try some retail therapy and head to the shops in Penny Street, St Nicholas Arcades and Marketgate. There's also the outdoor Charter Market every Wednesday and Saturday.

When it comes to live entertainment, you're spoilt for choice, with the Lancaster Grand Theatre, The Dukes, Yorkshire House and Nuffield Theatre offering a dazzling array of plays, gigs, comedy and dance. Plus there's a varied programme of festivals throughout the year, from jazz and literature to Chinese New Year and beer.

And if all that seems a bit energetic, don't forget to take a breather in the delightful green spaces of Williamson Park.

Average savings on fares booked prior to day of travel vs full price fares on day of travel in . Subject to availability. Excludes coach.

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