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Leisure and Entertainment

Crowds watching The Beatles perform at DeMontfort Hall 1963

Evidence of how people spent their leisure time over the centuries can be found throughout Leicester dating back to AD150. The oldest site known as a social gathering place is the Jewry Wall Roman baths, the remaining wall of which is considered one of the largest pieces of Roman masonry still standing in Britain.

The mile-long Georgian promenade now known as New Walk completed constructed in 1883 to link the fashionable Pocklinton’s Walk area to the racecourse situated in Victoria Park. Started in 1806 the Leicester Races were the highlight of the social calendar in Victoria Park until 1883 when the racecourse moved to its current location in Oadby.

Today’s Leicester has a range of places to visit and festivals to attend for leisure and entertainment activities from the award winning Curve theatre to Leicester’s largest live entertainment venue De Montfort Hall as well as independent retail shops at the Lanes and Highcross Leicester shopping centre.

Leicester Coffee and Cocoa Company Coffee Houses

Thomas Cook, a lifelong supporter of the Temperance Movement, was a founder member of the Leicester Coffee and Cocoa Company Ltd.

The Marquis Wellington

This inn, originally called The Bishops Blaize, was built in 1801 near the London Road toll gate.

University of Leicester Engineering Building

Completed in 1963, the Engineering Building is often said to be the first ‘Post-Modern’ building in Britain.

Jewry Wall Roman Baths

Today, the only visible reminder of Leicester’s Roman past is the Jewry Wall. At 23m long, 8m high and 2.5m thick, it is one of the largest pieces of Roman masonry still standing in Britain.

Grand Hotel and General Newsroom

Everything about the Grand Hotel was designed as a statement in luxury and opulence; from its European Renaissance style exterior and “wedding cake” top to public rooms full of marble fireplaces, onyx pillars and elegant chandeliers.

Leicester Museum & Art Gallery

In 1848 a school building was bought by the Leicester Corporation with the idea of converting it to a public museum, one of the first council-run museums to be established in the country. It opened in 1849.

Guild Hall Colton Street

The Guild Hall was opened in 1909 by the Leicester Guild of the Crippled to provide a social centre for people with physical disabilities. As well as being “beautiful and commodious”, this Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau style building was very practical, being an early example of a structure that had been purposely designed to be fully accessible.

Municipal Library

Designed by Edward Burgess, the new library could accommodate 40,000 books and up to 100 readers in the ground floor Reading Room. A separate Ladies´ Room was provided on the first floor and a Juvenile Lending Library in the basement.

Sue Townsend Theatre

The former Phoenix Theatre helped to develop the career of award-winning Leicester author and playwright Sue Townsend.

The Globe

The Globe is one of the oldest pubs in Leicester and may have been serving beer as early as 1720. Its ales were brewed using spring water drawn from a well beneath the building.

The Little Theatre

Many actors have appeared here over the years including the playwright John (Joe) Orton in Shakespeare´s Richard III (1948). Undoubtedly the most famous is Richard Attenborough (1923-2014) who made his acting debut at The Little Theatre playing Lucius in Shakespeare´s Julius Caesar in 1937

City Rooms

This elegant Georgian building, completed in 1800, was originally intended to be Leicester´s first hotel, which is how Hotel Street got its name.

Campbell Street and London Road Railway Stations

The Midland Counties Railway Act (1836) led to the building in 1840 of Leicester’s first mainline railway station, Leicester Campbell Street, on land behind London Road.

De Montfort Hall

Named after the sixth Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort, De Montfort Hall was the first purpose-built concert hall in Leicester. It was designed by local architect Mr Shirley Harrison and opened in July 1913.

Athena - The Odeon Cinema

The Odeon was built during the “Golden Age of Hollywood” when actors like Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and Greta Garbo were popular with cinema audiences. In the 1930s there were over 25 cinemas in Leicester and probably this one, built in 1938 by the Odeon organisation, was the grandest.

Cook’s Temperance Hall & Hotel

In 1853 Thomas Cook built an impressive Temperance Hall and adjoining Temperance Hotel on Granby Street. The Temperance Hall was demolished in 1961, but the Hotel frontage (now 121 Granby Street) has survived, the upper two storeys retaining much of their original appearance.

Thomas Cook Building

This Grade II listed building in Gallowtree Gate was commissioned by his son, John Mason Cook, and opened in 1894 next to the company’s existing offices. It was both a memorial to Cook himself, who died two years earlier, and a more suitable base for the business.

The Blue Boar Inn

On Leicester’s medieval High Street (now Highcross Street), close to where a Travelodge stands today, there was once an elaborate timber-framed building known as the Blue Boar Inn. Here, by tradition, Richard III spent a final night or two before the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Silver Street and The Lanes

The area known as ‘The Lanes’ dates back to medieval Leicester with the street pattern remaining much the same for many centuries. Roughly following the ancient Roman road that connected the west and east gates of the town the street has had various names over the years but by 1587 it was known as Silver Street.


Since opening, Curve has become a major producing theatre, creating critically acclaimed shows including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard (2017), Legally Blonde (2016) and Purva Naresh’s Pink Sari Revolution (2017).

Leicester Caribbean Carnival

Leicester’s Caribbean Carnival was first held in 1985 and has since gone on to become one of the largest Caribbean Carnivals outside of London.

Abbey Park

In 1879 the Leicester Corporation purchased Abbey Meadows from the Earl of Dysart. One stipulation for the sale of the Meadows to the corporation was that it should later become ‘a public park or recreation ground for the enjoyment of the inhabitants of Leicester’.

Victoria Park and Lutyens War Memorial

Victoria Park has formed a popular part of Leicester’s community and social landscape since its inception during the Victorian period. Originally part of the common land known as South Fields, the park was used as a racecourse from 1806 to 1883.

Western Park

There is evidence at Western Park of possibly Leicester’s earliest occupation. What is believed to be an early Bronze Age henge site and burial mounds have been discovered there along with evidence of Roman occupation as well.

Victorian Turkish Baths

Turkish baths were once very fashionable with more than 600 in Britain. There were two Victorian Turkish baths in the centre of Leicester during the late 1800’s, the one surviving at 40 Friar Lane and the other being at 9 New Street around the corner.

Turkey Café

The charming Art Nouveau style Turkey Café was designed by local architect and former mayor Arthur Wakerley.

Leicestershire County Cricket Club

The County Club was created in 1820 and reformed in 1879 to become the Leicestershire County Cricket Club.

King Power Stadium

In July 2011, the stadium was renamed King Power Stadium, after the Club’s new Thaibased owners. This started a time of transformation for the Club.

Leicester Fosse FC 1884

The Club’s first match was on 1 November 1884. In 1890, they beat Coalville in the Leicestershire County Cup Final and won their first trophy. They were nicknamed ‘The Fossils’.

Welford Road Tigers Rugby Club

The name Tigers was first used by the Leicester Daily Post in 1895. In March 1892, a ten-year lease was signed for their new site, between Aylestone Road and Welford Road and opened on 10th September 1892. It is the largest purpose-built club rugby ground in the United Kingdom.

Abbey Park Buildings

Local architect James Tait designed the park’s pavilion and lodges. The lodges at the Abbey Park Road entrance were built in 1881. The Grade II Slater Street lodge is built in the Tudor style.

Savoy Cinema

The new Art Deco style Savoy Cinema was opened on Belgrave Gate in June 1937. Part of the ABC group, it was the largest cinema in Leicester at the time.

Leicester Central Railway Station

Leicester's grand Central Railway Station opened to passengers in 1899, linking them to London on a new line extension until 1966.

Haymarket Theatre

Built as part of the wider Haymarket Shopping Centre scheme, the Haymarket Theatre was the home for professional theatre in Leicester from 1973 until it closed in 2007. Located opposite the site of the old Victorian Palace Theatre on Belgrave Gate, it has built a fine legacy of productions, directors and performers over the years.

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