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Stoke-on-Trent's nickname is 'the Potteries', which should give you a clue as to the industry the city was built on. Ceramics have dominated these parts of Staffordshire all the way back to the 17th century. And we don't just mean the odd pot or two - Stoke has long been recognised as the world centre of industrial-scale, high-quality pottery manufacturing. On top of all that there's a thriving cultural scene, a network of canals and waterways and heaps of great countryside nearby...

If ceramics are your thing, Stoke-on-Trent really is like all your Christmases coming at once. All the big names were founded in Stoke, including Royal Doulton, Wedgwood, Spode, and Minton. Though the industry isn't quite what it once was, there are still many companies producing here.

You can find out more about the industry and see some stunning collections at several museums and visitor centres around the city - pick up some details of the Ceramics Trail at the Tourist Information Centre on Bethesda Street. And don't forget to visit a factory shop and pick up your own little piece of Stoke's finest.

To explore the city's shops, theatres, restaurants and bars, head to the city centre, which is in Hanley, to the north of the station. Hanley is one of six separate towns that were joined to create Stoke-on-Trent in the 1920s - although it acts as the main city centre today, you'll also find small shopping areas in each of the other five town areas too, plus a number of large retail parks in between.

Finally, no trip to Stoke would be complete without popping into the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery to see the Staffordshire Hoard. Discovered in 2009, it is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found.

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