Sample the best of Leicester on a city break

Leicester

Extend your visit to Leicester and sample this East Midlands city’s market shopping, outdoor pursuits and top notch curry.

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Leicester is a vibrant, buzzing city with fantastic restaurants, bars, cultural attractions and a rich history and heritage. Best known for its association with King Richard III, you’ll find a wealth of distractions from the rugby, should you so wish! After the sport is over, you can head out into Leicestershire to enjoy steam railways, luxury hotels and even take to the waters on a barge.

Don’t miss 

To celebrate Leicester's hosting of world cup matches there will be an exciting cultural programme from the 2nd to 11th October. The 10 day programme will include live music, carnival parades, storytelling, dance, film, art installations. Leicester is holding its city marathon on 25 October, which starts and finishes in Victoria Park. October also marks Black History Month nationwide, and Leicester’s diverse population will be celebrated in a variety of venues during that period. Leicester is well known for its ethnic and cultural mix, and another big celebration worth putting in the diary is its annual Diwali celebration, which is one of the biggest outside of India. This year  the light switch on takes place on 1 November with Diwali Day on 11 November, which will be celebrated with fireworks and entertainment.

Explore the city

If you're interested in learning more about Leicester’s heritage and its connections with King Richard III, there are loads of guided walking tours to choose from that will take you around this historic city and uncover its fascinating past.

Great for families

Kids will enjoy exploring the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, and they’ll also love the National Space Centre, where they can go in to outer space at the UK’s only visitor attraction dedicated to space. Home to exciting exhibits, the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium and the 42ft rocket tower, the National Space Centre will entertain (and educate!) all the family.

There are magnificent green spaces in and around Leicester, where kids can run wild – Victoria Park in the city, and Bradgate Park, northwest of it, are two to make a beeline for. Victoria Park will be home to the fan festival during the Rugby World Cup 2015, and Bradgate Park is home to roaming deer. 

Go shopping

Visit the Leicester Lanes to browse independent boutiques selling hand-made jewellery and art and much more. Leading off The Lanes is the 800-year old Leicester Market, which is Europe’s largest outdoor covered market. Here you will find an abundance of fresh fruit, and vegetables and can browse stalls selling clothing, jewellery, plants and more. Visit the Food Hall for fresh fish, meats and local cheeses.

All lovers of fashion should head to Highcross Shopping Centre: home to Apple, Reiss, John Lewis, Next and more; there’s also a great choice of restaurants, cafes and places to grab a quick snack to refuel. The Haymarket shopping centre has over 60 shops and food outlets, with the requisite Primark to satisfy fashionistas on a budget!

For a diverse range of independent shops, bars, delis and restaurants, make for Queens Road, a short bus journey out of the city centre. Nearby in Stoneygate, there are high-end boutiques and cosy coffee shops on Allandale Road and Francis Street.

Outside of the city centre, the county of Leicestershire is home to the market towns of Market Harborough, Ashby de la Zouch and Melton Mowbray. The market towns have regular farmers markets, street markets and quaint antique and independent shops to browse.

Explore the area

Real ale fans should visit Belvoir Alehouse, just half an hour’s drive outside Leicester, for an authentic taste of Leicestershire. The brewery produces real ales such as Peacocks Glory, Beaver, Gordon Bennett and Whipling. You can take a brewery tour and find out how cask ales are produced with some tasty samples along the way.

If you want to step back in time to the days when steam ruled the railways, take a trip on the Great Central Railway, the UK’s only double track steam railway where you can see two steam trains pass each other. You can dine in style on-board a steam train or visit during one of the special events that take place throughout the year. Head to Loughborough, which is 35 minutes away by train.

Foxton Locks is a feat of Victorian engineering in the heart of Leicestershire’s countryside, and home to the longest staircase of locks in Britain, with ten in one short stretch. The Grade II lock system sits on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal and is over 200 years old. The BoilerHouse is an exciting new attraction at Foxton Locks where you can discover the ‘Lifts, Lives and Locks’, with state of the art visual experiences, hands-on activities and many fascinating exhibits. Make a night of it by staying at nearby Foxton Locks Lodges, an idyllic retreat with luxurious log cabins you can stay in. 

Get active

It’s a short drive from Leicester to The National Forest, an area of 200 square miles of woodland where you can test yourself on assault courses, enjoy a cycle or take in the scenery with a walk. If you want an adrenaline rush, take a visit to Avalanche Adventure, just outside of Market Harborough, where you can try your hand at clay pigeon shooting, 4x4 off-roading, quad biking and much more. To experience Land Rover’s legendary all-terrain expertise in safe, thrilling and true-to-life driving adventures you can visit Land Rover Experience East of England.

Upcoming Events

Enjoy local music, dance and sports celebrating the very best of Leicester at the ten-day City Festival. Watch Leicester’s finest musicians and composers perform classical greats at the International Music Festival, and get into the Rugby World Cup party spirit at the Night of Festivals.

Did you know?

Leicester holds one of the biggest annual celebrations of Diwali outside of India.

Where to stay

Budget: Ibis Hotel Leicester 
Moderate: Mercure Leicester, The Grand Hotel
Luxury: Hotel Maiyango 
Accessible: Ramada Encore Leicester 

Where to eat

Budget: Mrs Bridges Tea Rooms
Moderate: Mem Saab 
Luxury: The White Peacock
Accessible: Zizzi’s

Getting there and around

Air: The nearest major airport is East Midlands Airport, a 30-minute drive from the city centre. Regular buses take you to the city centre. Taxis are available at Arrivals. 
Rail: Leicester Station is just over an hour from London St Pancras International Station. You can also get the train from East Midlands Parkway into Leicester Station.
Road: Leicester is on junction 21 of the M1.

For more local tourist information:

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RRichard III statue outside Leicester cathedral
KKing Richard III Throne Room
HHighcross Shopping Centre © HOLLIS
NNational Space Centre © HOLLIS
FFoxton Locks
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