As your train rumbles tiredly into the station, it’s quite possible you’ll hear the guard announce over the Tannoy: “Now approaching Leicester. Nothing to see here. We’ll be moving on again rather quickly.”
However, it has been a long-standing accusation that there really isn’t much of a reason to visit Leicester. An accusation that, in our completely unbiased eyes, is downright unjust. And we’re going to prove it to you.
If you’ve already booked your ticket for MarketEd.Live 2023, good on you. We thank you, and we salute you, because you now have EVERY reason in the world to visit this fair city in the heart of the East Midlands.
But if you’re still mulling it over, arguing with yersen (that’s a little bit of Lestah dialect thrown in there, free of charge) – “Do I really want to go to Leicester? Yes, of course I do, it’s MarketEd.Live, there’s no way I’m missing that.
Yes, but it’s Leicester. Leicester for God’s sake. Leicester! Really? I mean, really?” – allow us to try to settle that argument once and for all. Consider it a pre-event Brucie bonus.
So, in no particular order, because we love them all equally, here’s what to do in Leicester…
The National Space Centre
Space and stuff. But so much more. The National Space Centre is, ahem, an out-of-this-world experience. If you want to boldly go where you’ve never been before, take one giant leap for your kind, this is the place.
With it’s iconic 42ft Rocket Tower, the largest planetarium in the UK, six galleries and more spacey stuff than you can shake an inanimate carbon rod at, such as rockets, satellites, space suits and meteorites, a visit here will leave you over the moon.
For details about prices, opening times, how to get there etc, see their website here.
Despite the Indian political leader having never visited Leicester, the Gandhi statue is nevertheless one of the most well-known landmarks in the city. And most controversial. Representative of the Gujarati community within the city, the Gandhi statue can be found in Belgrave Road, not far from the city centre.
Daniel Lambert Gallery
Daniel who? None other than one of Leicester’s most-cherished sons, is who. Daniel Lambert was renowned for his huge size – the heaviest authenticated person in history at that time – his strength, and for fighting a bear on the city streets. He died in 1809 at the age of 39, having weighed more than 50 stone, but was still an accomplished goalkeeper during his life.
Visit the gallery at Newarke Houses Museum where you can see the big man’s giant chair. Just don’t sit in it.
Picturesque. Leafy. Historical. Walk in the footsteps of Roman soldiers as you amble from the city centre up to De Montfort Hall, almost a mile away. There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants to pop into along New Walk, as well as the odd dinosaur to see. Which takes us nicely on to…
Leicester Museum & Art Gallery
On your stroll up New Walk, make a stop at the museum, where galleries include the aforementioned dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, Victorian art, Picasso ceramics and much more. It’s free to get in, but we can’t guarantee you’ll bump into David Attenborough, one of Leicester’s most famous of sons.
More museum info can be found here.
King Richard III Visitor Centre
You were wondering when we were going to get around to him, weren’t you? Everybody must have heard the incredible story about King Richard III by now, unless you’ve been living under a car park for 500 years.
Learn all there is to learn about the hunchback king, where he died, how he died, how he came to be buried under a car park and, ultimately, how he was found again.
Genuinely, it’s a fascinating story. Plus, at Leicester Cathedral, you can see the final resting place of the last king of England killed in battle. Plan your visit here.
King Power Stadium
Home to the mighty Leicester City. Or, rather, once mighty. The Foxes famously won the Premier League in 2015-16 as rank 5,000-1 outsiders. It’s a sporting story that captured the world and, although they haven’t hit those dizzying heights since, they did win their first FA Cup as recently as 2021.
With notable former players such as Gary Lineker, Gordon Banks, Riyad Mahrez, Kasper Schmeichel, Neil Lennon and Peter Shilton, to name but a few, a trip to the KP is a must for any footy fan. For info on tours and the like, have a butcher’s here.
If you’re planning on arriving in Leicester super-early, you can catch the Foxes in action at the King Power on Saturday 2 September when they play Hull at 3pm. After that, they’re not back at home until 23 September.
Other sporting venues
If that’s got you feeling all sporty, it would be rude of us not to mention that other sports are available.
You could visit the Welford Road Stadium, home to Leicester Tigers, if rugby is your thing; or head to Grace Road, where Leicestershire County Cricket Club will be playing Gloucestershire between September 3-7; or stop at the Morningside Arena, home to the Leicester Riders basketball team, as well as a leading venue for world-class snooker and darts.
Sporting Success statue
One last sporting attraction before you have your half-time oranges. The Sporting Success statue in the city centre commemorates the outstanding success of Leicester City, Leicester Tigers and Leicestershire CCC when, between 1996-97, they lifted the Coca-Cola Cup, Pilkington Cup and County Championship respectively. Leicester was the sporting capital of the country. And this is the perfect spot for a sporty selfie.
I’m hungry now. Where do I eat?
Good call. Now, where do we start? Because, like most major cities, Leicester is not alone in being able to offer a smorgasbord of culinary delights from all around the world. You won’t have to stray too far to find the cuisine of your choice, and the best place to start would probably be at Highcross, where there is a wide selection of fayre on offer. Being the central shopping area in the city, there are plenty of other cafes, bars and restaurants surrounding Highcross, but you could also venture up to the Golden Mile to sample one of the many Indian restaurants that make Leicester so famous.
Or you could buy your own food. And where better to start than at Europe’s largest outdoor covered market?
With a history dating back 800 years, browse the plethora of fresh fruit and vegetables on display – we’re pretty sure you won’t find any 800-year-old apples or cabbages though. Fun fact: Gary Lineker’s family used to run a stall there – have a peek to see if you can still find it. If Gary himself bags up your pears, it’s a winner!
Familiarise yourself with the market here before you visit.
The Golden Mile
Prepare to be dazzled. A trip to Belgrave Road, just outside the city centre, promises the sights, sounds and smells of everything India is famous for. Traditional Indian clothes shops, jewellers, restaurants, sweet treats and groceries are just a few of the delights that await you… and your Insta account.
The Golden Mile really comes alive during Diwali which, although it doesn’t start until 12 November, is a sight to behold as the whole road is illuminated in the Festival of Lights, making it the biggest celebration outside India. Make sure you book a return trip to Leicester to catch this awesome experience.
BBC Radio 2 Live
There hasn’t been a BBC Radio 2 Live event since 2019. Guess what? Leicester has been chosen as the first venue since then. Which just shows how culturally and musically important, and damn right cool, Leicester is. Still not convinced? Then take a look at the line-up, which includes Kylie, Tears for Fears, Busted, Rick Astley, Simply Red and Sam Ryder, to name but a few.
Taking place at Victoria Park from 16-17 September, expect some banging tunes. Previous artists to have played at BBC Radio 2 Live include the likes of Sir Elton, Sir Rod and (sharp intake of breath) Take That. For more info, see here.
St George’s Tower
Surely it’s just a tower block, right? Well, yeah. But what you may not know about St George’s Tower is that it also happens to be covered in a magnificent street art mural, inspired by the city’s diversity. It is now the tallest piece of singular street art in Europe, and the third tallest in the world. Go see for yourselves.
Theatres and venues
We’re not in the business of encouraging you away from MarketEd.Live, but if you want even more live entertainment during your downtime, you won’t be disappointed. See what’s on at:
- Curve Theatre – This state-of-the-art venue is smack bang in the heart of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter. You can’t miss it
- Leicester Guildhall – Built in 1390, it has a rich and fascinating history, having been a town hall, court, police station, prison, museum and now a venue. It’s even rumoured that a certain Mr W Shakespeare may have acted there. Oh, and it’s a bit haunted, too
- De Montfort Hall – Located at the top of New Walk (remember?), this is Leicester’s largest music and performance venue. Famous names to have graced the stage at ‘De Mont’ over the years include the Beatles and local boy Engelbert Humperdinck. Nuff said
- The Little Theatre – The home of the Leicester Drama Society and a regular venue during the Leicester Comedy Festival
- Sue Townsend Theatre – Formerly known as the Phoenix Arts Centre and now named after the Adrian Mole author, in honour of her contributions to her home town
Welford Road Cemetery
Strictly for those into this sort of thing, of which we have no doubt there are many. Opened in 1849, the cemetery is Grade II listed and is home to 10,000 headstones and 35,000 graves, including 100 notable Victorians and Edwardians. Also the final resting place of Thomas Cook, he of travel agent fame. See if you can find his grave. More info here.
Historical places of interest
Plenty to choose from if you’re a history buff. You could try Jewry Wall, one of the tallest surviving sections of Roman masonry in Britain; or Leicester Castle, which is not a castle to look at in the usual sense, but has a history dating back to 1068; or the Magazine, one of Leicester’s finest surviving medieval buildings and is actually called the Newarke Gateway. Who knew! All these attractions are closely located, so you could do all three in one go. Bosh!
The Clock Tower
Not just a place to meet, but THE place to meet, especially if you’re lost, running late, on a date, or in a big group. It is one of Leicester’s most iconic landmarks and is slap bang in the middle of the city centre. There’s no chance you can miss it but, if you do, here’s a map, because we’re thoughtful like that.
So, there you have it. Lots and lots of very, very good reasons to visit Leicester. And why it has so much more to offer than what too many people first think. More fools them, they’re the ones missing out. There is, as the cliché goes, something for everyone, and we’re sure you’ll have an amazing time exploring what this much-maligned – unjustly in our humble opinion – city has to offer. Just see for yourselves. Go on, we dare ya.
There are plenty of websites mentioned above that will direct you to places of interest but, just to help you even further, we’ve put together this little list. Is there anything we won’t do for you?
Visit Leicester – www.visitleicester.info/whats-on
Cool As Leicester – www.coolasleicester.co.uk/
What’s On In Leicester – www.whatsoninleicester.com/news/
Leicestershire Live – www.leicestermercury.co.uk/whats-on/
Leicester Museums & Galleries – www.leicestermuseums.org/