Forget what you thought you knew about Leicester…
Leicester, fusing the old with the new
Described in the Lonely Planet Guide as being ‘filled with a sense of excitement’ Leicester is everything you would expect from a truly multicultural melting pot - vibrant, thriving and ultra cosmopolitan. From the heart of the newly regenerated city centre with its new state-of-the-art theatre and superb new £350m Highcross Leicester retail experience, to award-winning family attractions like the out-of-this world National Space Centre and ancient Roman ruins at the Jewry Wall Museum, Leicester is a fusion of new, old, fun and bold.
Cultural hubs and new venues
The city is nearing the end of an epic multi-million pound style renaissance. The iconic new Curve theatre opened in November last year in the heart of the Leicester’s Cultural Quarter - offering a magnificent new home for theatre and performing arts. The dynamic Highcross Leicester retail and leisure experience is also new to the city - offering over 120 shops, three department stores including a new flagship John Lewis, more than 20 new cafés and restaurants and Leicester’s very first city centre multiplex cinema. Sealing Leicester’s reputation as a centre for culture and arts, November this year also saw the opening of the long-awaited Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre – a film and digital entertainment hub offering independent arts cinema and an immersive digital gallery.
Steeped in history
As well as its state-of-the-art and iconic new buildings, Leicester is also a city that is exquisitely rich in history. The city is home to some of the most historic buildings in the Midlands, ranging from the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, home to Egyptian mummies and a fine collection of German Expressionist art, through to the ancient Roman ruins at the Jewry Wall Museum, one of the largest pieces of Roman architecture in Britain. There’s also the stunning Castle Park and Gardens where visitors can explore the area’s dramatic buildings, churches and gateways to old Leicester.
Out of this world
For exploration of a different kind, there’s the tremendously popular National Space Centre. With real rockets, interactive challenges and the most advanced space theatre in the world, visitors are guaranteed to be taken where they have never been before. Opposite the attraction is Abbey Pumping Station – Leicester's museum of science and technology, located in a late 19th century sewage pumping station.
On the spice trail
One of the city’s best assets is its unique ethnic mix, widely reflected in the choice of eateries available, from some of the best Indian curry houses to award-winning restaurants, tucked away in the historical Leicester Lanes and the famous Belgrave Road, also known as the ‘Golden Mile’. The Belgrave area also offers one of the best Indian shopping experiences this side of the Punjab - including large saree houses, traditional spice stores and glistening jewellery shops.
One thing no visitor to the city should miss is the award winning Leicester Market. Steeped in over 700 years of history, it is Europe’s largest covered market and is always a hive of activity. Marvel at the unusual mixture of vegetables from around the world, and seek out the excellent fish market in the Market Centre for a mouth-watering array of quality fresh food.
Abbey Park is Leicester’s premier park and lies approximately one mile north of the City centre. The River Soar divides the stunning 57-acre open space into two distinct areas: to the east of the river lies the highly decorative Victorian part of the park with its evergreen shrubberies, trees, lakes and formally planted flower displays and to the west of the river lies the fascinating Abbey Grounds. Within this area are the remains of the twelfth century Leicester Abbey and the ruins of Cavendish House, a seventeenth century mansion.
Situated on London Road within easy walking distance for the city centre via the historic New Walk, this 69-acre fine parkland has a variety of attractions for visitors. There are two war memorials in the park, the most notable of which is the Memorial Arch that commemorates the First World War and was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Peace Walk provides a laid out approach to the Memorial and features vibrant flower displays. The second memorial commemorates the American 82nd Airborne Division which was based in Leicester prior to the D Day landings in 1944. The park continues to provide a focus for community and cultural festivities; including Leicester’s popular Caribbean Carnival. The Park is also officially designated as a park or garden of special historic interest (grade II).
Belgrave Hall Museum and Gardens
Belgrave Hall provides an oasis of peace and quiet in a busy city. The Hall was built between 1709 and 1713. Today, Belgrave Hall is a thriving museum where visitors can discover the contrasting lifestyles of an upper middle class family and domestic servants in the Victorian and Georgian Room settings and beautiful walled botanic gardens. During 1999 the Hall became famous for its ghostly goings-on and over the years there have been a number of unexplained paranormal events.
Over the years, Leicester City has played host to lots of filming including television programmes: Songs of Praise, Gok Wan, Panorama, Ghosthunters International, The Choir and The Big Question. Feature films in the city have included Back in Business at the National Space Centre, Kalakkal, a Bollywood Feature and, most recently, Oranges and Sunshine. Leicester is a very film friendly city and in the past has entertained high profile location managers, who toured the city on an open top bus! Leicester Shire Promotions was also the first company to sign up to EM Media's East Midlands Film Friendly Initiative in July.