On the edge of the National Forest lies Leicester, Britain’s tenth largest city. As one of the oldest towns in the UK, there is never a loss as to what to do and see. For example, there’s the Roman baths, industrial artefacts, as well as the newly discovered burial place of Richard III. Paired with a teeming cultural life, Leicester has fantastic array of things to do and see – here are some of our top picks.
A natural number one attraction in Leicester is the King Richard III Visitor Centre, built right next to where the remains of the 15th century king were discovered in 2012. Opened in 2014, the Visitor Centre aims to document King Richard III’s turbulent life and death, as the last king of England to die in battle. The Visitor Centre was built into a former school and Victorian revival building, and blends the old with the new, in its interactive exhibitions and state of the art equipment.
Right across the street from the Visitor Centre lies Leicester Cathedral, another must on the list if you’re interested in King Richard III’s faith. The church, first established around the year 1089, became the king’s final resting place, as he was reinterred here in March 2015. The cathedral in itself is also a beautiful sight with stained glass windows, spectacular interiors, and now the new royal tomb.
The National Space Centre in Leicester is the largest of its kind in the UK, and therefore the leading attraction for astronomy and space science in the country. The Space Centre is a great destination on a rainy day and offers hours of education, as well as entertaining fun with their numerous galleries, a rocket tower, interactive experiences and the UK’s largest planetarium. If you’re in want of an otherworldly experience, the National Space Centre in Leicester is one of the best options Britain can offer.
The New Walk Museum & Art Gallery was the original museum in Leicester, built in 1849, and displays a little bit of everything you can think of. From cultural and natural history to fine art, this museum has exhibitions on dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, and German expressionism, as well as a Victorian gallery. Admissions are free, and with its variety of artefacts and displays, the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery is sure to be worth your time.
The Newark Houses Museum & Gardens is home to the museum of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment, and therefore aims to document the history of Leicester at war throughout the ages. The museum can boast an authentic First World War trench, and artefacts connected to the Regiment’s military history, dating as far back as the Tudors. The museum also recounts the history of Leicester and surrounding areas, and is the frequent host of different events pertaining to the city and its past.
As the largest outdoor covered market in Europe, Leicester Market, with more than 270 different stalls, is surely worth a visit. The market is mainly a place for the sale of fruit and vegetables but you can also find books, jewellery, clothes and flowers. The market is said to be more than 800 years old and has existed in its current spot for more than 700 years. Leicester Market is open six days a week and is sure to offer anything you could want right in the heart of the city centre.
A listed timer building dating as far back as the 1390s, the Guildhall in Leicester has served as a city hall, meeting place and courtroom. The Guildhall was the original home of Britain’s third oldest library, and has been the site of many historical debates and events, especially during the English Civil War in the 17th century. The building is today both a museum and a performance venue, and it was in this place that the press conference announcing the find of Richard III’s remains was held in 2012.
Phoenix Cinema and Art Centre is a centre for independent art and cinema in Leicester. The cinema shows a wide selection of film, from Hollywood blockbusters to small-budget independent projects, and the Phoenix gallery represents both local and international artists. Creating an immersive and wholesome experience, the centre also has its own Café Bar where food and drinks are served, allowing you to stay for as long as you like in this cultural hub.
Belgrave Hall is an 18th century building in the northern part of Leicester that today serves as a museum. The museum documents daily life in the home throughout history, and displays various domestic objects and artefacts in its authentic interior. Belgrave Hall also has a small walled garden – a serene refuge from the hustle and bustle of the modern day city. Belgrave Hall is perhaps most famous for the two ghosts spotted on the building’s surveillance cameras, making it a place of interest to ghost hunters and paranormal experts ever since.
Leicester is a city of great historical significance and can boast numerous listed buildings and well-preserved historic sights. It is, however, important to remember that Leicester is also a city of great contemporary cultural importance today. Pay a visit to one of the many music venues in the city and experience all kinds of acts, from small up-and-coming student collaborations to great bands and international artists, perform. The music scene in the city is active, vibrant, and it should not be hard to find something to suit your tastes.