Well-connected, cosmopolitan and affordable, what’s not to love about Leicester. Made up of a series of neighbourhoods, each with its own unique style and character, the city is a popular choice for those looking to make it their home.
Leicester city centre offers a winning combination of an excellent retail experience, a myriad of places to eat, drink and relax and lots of green spaces to enjoy, which is why it was Britain’s first European Sustainable City. The Lanes and St Martin’s Square have independent shops, restaurants and vibrant pubs, with some dating back to the 1700s. Leicester Market, which has traded for more than 700 years, now includes the award-winning food hall with 270 bustling stalls. For high street and brand names, there are two shopping centres: Highcross Leicester and Haymarket Shopping Centre.
Multi-cultural and cosmopolitan, the West End boasts an array of bars, shops and restaurants from all corners of the globe. From Turkish cafes, Indian curry houses and Polish delicatessens, this vibrant area is perfect for people watching. For nightlife, head to Braunstone Gate for cocktails and a party atmosphere and if you just want to have a wander, the imposing Victorian and Edwardian architecture is pretty impressive.
St George’s Cultural Quarter
This former textile and shoe hub is now a thriving area for the arts. A community of artists and creatives, the centre of the area is the Curve theatre, one of the country’s leading venues. There is also the Phoenix, an independent cinema and digital art centre.
Steeped in medieval history, the cobbled streets of the Old Town is full of the city’s historic and cultural gems, including the final resting place of the Last Plantagenet King at Leicester Cathedral. With a fantastic choice of coffee shops, tea houses, bars and restaurants, there’s plenty of places to refresh after perusing the assortment of independent stores.
The Golden Mile
Just a ten-minute walk from the city centre but a world away from a UK city, The Golden Mile looks and feels like an authentic Indian bazaar. Taking its name from the traditional Indian jewellery shops that line the street, the stretch of road is a spectacular melting pot of diverse cultures.
Independent and unique stores can be found throughout the winding cobbled streets of The Lanes. From jewellery stores, including the official jeweler to Leicester City Football Club, through to luxury clothes and handmade homeware, this is a great spot to while away the afternoon.
Enjoy the river and canal-side scenery in the historic village of Aylestone. There’s plenty to see and do including a visit to Aylestone Hall and Gardens, a Grade II historic building and St Andrew’s church dating back 800 years. Walkers and cyclists can follow the scenic route along the Great Central Way, winding through a nature reserve alongside the River Soar and the Grand Union Canal.
Leicester is well connected by train, road and air. East Midlands Trains and Cross Country offers services from Leicester station to Nottingham, Sheffield, Birmingham and other towns and cities and direct trains run regularly to London St Pancras with a journey time of just over an hour. For car users, the M1 is just next to Leicester and offers a direct link to Sheffield and Leeds to the north and London to the south. Travelling further afield, East Midlands airport is just a 30-minute drive away from the city with many links to international destinations.
There are 212 schools and colleges within five miles of Leicester, offering plenty of choice for families. To compare school and college performance, check out the Government website to find out what has earned Ofsted’s highest Outstanding rating. There are also two well-regarded universities; De Montfort and the University of Leicester.
For sports lovers, you are spoilt for choice with Leicester City Football Club, Leicestershire County Cricket Club, Leicester Tigers Rugby Club, Leicester Lions Speedway and Leicester Racecourse. For fun days out, Leicester’s National Space Centre boasts six galleries and the UK’s largest domed planetarium. For outside space, Abbey Park is a mile north of the city and home to Leicester Abbey. The River Soar flows through the park where you will find a miniature railway, café and boating lake. Interested in flora and fauna, then the Leicester botanic garden is a must-visit. It features the Attenborough Arboretum and lots of different plants across acres of gardens and glasshouses.
Independent shops and cafes can be found throughout the city, especially at the Stoneygate Shops and Queens Road, and there’s a plethora of shops and stalls to suit every taste and budget. Leister City Market is full of handmade and unique gifts alongside a food hall with delights from around the world. There are also two large shopping malls; the Highcross Shopping Centre, which also has a hub of quality chain restaurants and a 12-screen cinema and the Haymarket Shopping Centre.
Famous faces from Leicester
· Sir David Attenborough – Broadcaster
· Sir Richard Attenborough – Actor and filmmaker
· Thomas Cook – Travel entrepreneur
· Gary Lineker – Footballer
· Joe Orton – Playwright
· Joseph Merrick – ‘Elephant Man’
· Gok Wan – TV presenter
· Sue Townsend – Author
· Engelbert Humperdinck - Singer
· Martin Johnson – England rugby union captain
· Alice Hawkins – Suffragette
· Lady Jane Grey – Queen of England
· John Deacon - Queen bassist