Leicester – City Guide
“Leicester has recently been widely celebrated for the discovery and subsequent burying of King Richard III – however, it has a lot more to offer than a dead king. With the biggest Diwali festival outside of India, big names constantly headlining the De Montfort Hall stage, and three universities’ worth of students thrown into the populous, there are always new hidden gems to find, and plenty of fun to be had.”
Things to do
Leicester city centre is just as diverse as its population.
- The indoor market is the largest in Europe and offers much more than food. Though it is possibly the cheapest fruit and veg you will find in Leicester (rivalled by Queens Road grocers), there are also stalls for home decoration, fish, meat, even retro video games and consoles; be warned, you will be tempted on more than one occasion to purchase an N-64, or old DVDs that you don’t need but want because of some strange emotional attachment.
- Just by the market are the Leicester Lanes. Home to a plethora of vintage shops with hidden bargains, independent cafes, niche shopping experiences, and its fair share of pubs and bars, the Lanes are a welcome, quiet shopping and drinking experience away from the usual buzz of the brimming city centre.
- Everything in the city centre is within five minutes of everything else, so if you’re looking for a simple shopping and dining experience, Highcross is the heart of Leicester. A comprehensive, indoor shopping mall is sure to quench any thirst for shopping
- The Showcase cinema is a great multi-screen cinema that offers the chance to watch new releases on an IMAX screen. It’s right by many bars and restaurants, so there’s always something to do if you find yourself looking for more once the film finishes.
- The newly opened King Richard III Visitor Centre is an incredible exhibition, and definitely one to take the parents to. Taking you from tutor tales right to the King’s discovery, it’s well worth a visit, and students get a discount too!
- But if you want to get a bit further afield, The National Space Centre is a great museum, and houses the UK’s largest planetarium. It isn’t too far away from the city, is in easy reach by public transport and students get a small discount off ticket prices.
- For an inner-city escape, Victoria Park makes for the perfect afternoon out. With 69 acres of parkland containing tennis courts, football, rugby and astro pitches as well as ping pong tables, it’s the perfect place to relax after a morning of lectures.
- Oh, and don’t forget to catch a premier league match at The King Power Stadium, home to Leicester City!
Arts & Culture
- New Walk Museum and Art Gallery has a huge range of exhibitions that run throughout the year and include an ‘Attenborough collection’, and Leicester’s internationally renowned German impressionist collection. It’s a great hub of culture and history right in the centre of the city.
- The Curve Theatre is not only an extremely impressive building on the outside, but houses a variety of spectacular plays and musicals inside. From Shakespeare to The Shawshank Redemption it has some of the best state-of-the-art technology in the country.
- Another great place for theatre and also comedy is De Montford Hall. With headline comedians such as Sarah Millican and Greg Davis it’s a great place to go to get a few laughs when you’re feeling down.
- Phoenix Square is Leicester’s centre for independent cinema and art. It hosts all types of movies from Hollywood blockbusters to low-budget films.
Music & Nightlife
While it doesn’t live up to the nightlife of Manchester, Newcastle or Leeds; Leicester still has a very respectable night scene. As a student, you can go out pretty much any day of the week, apart from Sundays, and find something for you in the city.
- Republic is one of Leicester’s biggest night clubs and won’t disappoint – I’d recommend heading over there on a Monday if you want the full experience.
- Tuesdays are Mosh days – this is a brilliant club with three floors of music ranging from Indie & Alternative to Dance, plus double vodka mixers for just £2.50.
- When Wednesday rolls in, it’s time to hit the SU for Red Leicester – the official sports and societies night (be prepared for some real cheesy music).
- The 02 Academy in Leicester also put on some great nights, including Propaganda on Saturdays. The academy also sees some huge artists hitting the stage such as Mystery Jets and Gecko.
Bars are plentiful across the city:
- I’d recommend Manhattan34 in the Cultural Quarter. It’s a beautiful bar set in the 1930s with bespoke cocktails and hosts acoustic and open-mic nights.
- The Terrace is another great cocktail bar, spread over 2 floors of a grade 2 listed building.
- 33 Cank Street is a little jazz and art-deco inspired bar which is perfect for a first date.
Best Places to Eat
- As student life dictates, breakfast time is almost non-existent, but brunch in Clarendon Park sees you frequently walking in to either Jones’ Bistro, Fingerprints or Salvador Deli. Jones’ offers delicious American style breakfasts from pancakes with bacon, egg and maple syrup, to bagel burgers with parmesan fries, to the almost unbeaten ‘666 challenge’ (6 sausages, 6 eggs, 6 rashers of bacon, 6 hash browns, 6 pieces of toast, and 6 pancakes piled high with maple syrup – winners get their food for free, plus a 666 T-shirt). Fingerprints has a simpler atmosphere, offering smaller dishes such as make-your-own bagels, paninis, sandwiches and ciabattas, as well as salads and an array of hot drinks. Handily, both Jones’ and Fingerprints offer student discount.
- For the evenings, Highcross have an abundance of chain restaurants to choose from, including Café Rouge, Frankie and Benny’s, Pizza Express, TGI Friday’s and Wagamama.
- OGGI is an Italian restaurant in the heart of a city, which tastes of the Mediterranean. And if you’re looking for something a bit fishier, head to Kayal for the first authentic Kerala seafood specialty.