Leicester: The Centre of Everything
There’s an undeniable buzz about Leicester right now – a swagger, a something-in-the-air self-confidence born of a winning streak that’s seen a city deeply proud of its place at the heart of English history bang at the centre of attention again.
The dreamers and do-ers, creators and achievers that enrich and energise music, TV, sport, cooking, crafts – the very culture – all seemingly hail from here, each a living expression of the vibrancy and diversity Leicester absolutely refuses to keep quiet about.
Rock band Kasabian and pop star Sam Bailey both topped the album charts in 2014, city singer Sam building on her X Factor victory and singles success, while Sergio Pizzorno and the band celebrated their city with a homecoming gig in Leicester’s Victoria Park watched by 60,000, a night everyone’s still buzzing about. Creativity is one of DMU’s signature qualities and is in Leicester’s lifeblood.
Songbird Sam has spiritual sisters in city successes Sally Barker, a DMU graduate, and Molly Smitten-Downes, who took their talent to the business end of hit BBC One talent contest The Voice and the Eurovision Song Contest, winning over millions. Making an on-screen impact in other fields were our Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn and our Great British Sewing Bee champ Heather Jacks – creative minds who know the finer details matter.
Beyond the collective kitchen and couch, in sport Leicester rules: snooker star Mark Selby (‘The Jester from Leicester’, no less) claimed the World Championship, Leicester Riders retained basketball’s BBL Cup and DMU football partners Leicester City swept all before them to win promotion to the Premier League – a massive feat of sweat and skill that means the biggest names in football will now be heading to our city to try to outwit the wily Foxes. DMU’s partners in rugby and cricket, Leicester Tigers and Leicester County Cricket Club, inevitably vie for top honours when the game’s afoot, too. You’ll see stars in Leicester every weekend.
Beyond the sporting field and the snap and crackle of city life – yet not too far away – the sweeping landscape, open spaces and vast, shifting skies of Leicestershire also offer restoration, recreation and inspiration (‘All the ministers of hope/ Are tempted to this sunny slope’, as Wordsworth put it when he dropped by). Woodlands, the National Forest, meadows, wetlands and heath, and nature reserves holding wildlife and geological treasures all offer a soothing counterpoint to the giddy vigour of the city.
Mood-changing, time-shifting country parks characterise the Shire. Bradgate Park, a favourite haunt for many, sprawls richly across 850 acres and holds the ruins of Bradmore House – one of the oldest brick-built country houses in England and birthplace and childhood home of Lady Jane Grey, once a Queen of England.
There’s always a story to tell here as history, royal and otherwise, weaves through the fabric of the city and county like a power cable, connecting past and present, ancient and modern, in a still-live saga. Taking a name from the city’s rich trading past, the £350 million Leicester Highcross has utterly transformed shopping and the city experience. Leicester’s box-fresh, £4m Jubilee Square, its name inspired by our most recent Royal visitor (Her Majesty chose to begin her Golden Jubilee at DMU), will further reshape the city, as have the new £2.5 million Leicester Cathedral Gardens – space to live in and dream on past, present and future in, before taking the next step forward.
Because history is never finished in Leicester – it doesn’t lie down and stay quiet here. The city captured the attention of the world, with the extraordinary stories and scenes surrounding the discovery of King Richard III’s remains beneath a council car park – and impressed all with the dignity, honour and excitement of the ceremonies leading to the King’s re-interment in Leicester Cathedral, a few minutes’ walk from campus. It’s just one of the reasons the Lonely Planet guide has listed the city among the must-see world travel experiences for 2015.
Confident and colourful, alive with possibilities, full of quirks and corners and bars, cafés and cuisine from around the world – plus the appetite for life to do them justice – we’re one of England’s 10 largest cities and the region’s largest economy. We’re big enough to offer something new every day, small enough to quickly feel like home.
And the story goes on. Come and be part of it.