A YEAR-LONG national celebration marking the centenary of the first British women getting the vote culminates in a spectacular finale in Leicester next month – and you’ll be able to reserve your place at the free event from Monday (4 February).
The story of the suffragette Alice Hawkins – the shoe factory machinist who led the women’s suffrage movement in Leicester in the early 1900s – will be brought to life on Sunday 3 March in a stunning event that will use large-scale projection to create an unforgettable experience for spectators in the city’s new market square.
Video mapped imagery projected onto the rear of the Corn Exchange will transform the building, with light, sound and archive footage being used to help tell Alice’s story like never before.
Organisers say it’s the first time that an event of this kind has been seen in Leicester – and it promises to be an experience that no one, of any age, will want to miss.
Geoff Rowe of the Leicester-based Big Difference Company – which is co-producing the event – said: “It’s going to be absolutely brilliant!
“We’re proud to have worked on huge Leicester events in the past and have brought together an amazing team to produce this latest event. Anyone who joins us on Sunday 3rd March will remember this event for the rest of their lives so I would urge you to save the date in your diary and reserve your place now.”
Called ‘Always and always facing toward the Light’ – the motto of the Leicester suffragette movement – the free event is supported by funding from the Government’s Centenary Cities fund.
It will be repeated three times on the evening of Sunday 3 March – at 6.30pm, 7.45pm and 9pm – with each performance lasting 30 minutes.
Admission to each show will be by wristband, which will be available – free of charge – from Visit Leicester on Gallowtree Gate from Monday (4 February). Anyone unable to pick up their wristband in person can write to Visit Leicester, enclosing a stamped self-addressed envelope with their request.
Inspired by Alice’s life, the show will also focus on the growth of the suffragette movement and the legacy of the suffragettes’ fight for equal rights, with interviews with women and girls from present-day Leicester bringing the story right up to date.
Live performance, a bespoke soundtrack and a 40-strong choir will also feature in the event, which will bring the UK’s centenary celebrations to a close, just a few days before International Women’s Day.
Deputy city mayor and heritage champion Cllr Adam Clarke said: “The UK-wide year of events commemorating the centenary of the Representation of the People Act started here in Leicester with the unveiling of the statue of Alice Hawkins.
“A year on from that ceremony, we’ll be returning to the new market square – close to the site of so many of Alice’s public speeches – to mark the end of the centenary year with this spectacular event.
“With International Women’s Day taking place on 8 March, it’s fitting that our final event in Leicester will honour not just Alice, but everyone who challenges inequality in our society.”
Shared Space & Light – the company behind the spectacular Lighting of the Torch Ceremony for the 2012 Paralympic Games, as well as amazing installations at Durham’s world-class Lumière Festival – have been brought in to create the event for Leicester, which is being produced by Leicester City Council in partnership with Big Difference Company.
Free wristbands for the event will be available from Monday (4 February) from Visit Leicester on Gallowtree Gate. Anyone unable to pick up their wristband in person can write to Visit Leicester, enclosing a stamped self-addressed envelope and a note saying how many wristbands they would like for the 6.30pm, 7.45pm or 9pm shows.
Anyone wishing to receive their wristbands by post should make sure their stamped self-addressed envelope is delivered to Visit Leicester by Friday 22 February.
Requests should be marked ‘Wristbands’ and sent to: Visit Leicester, 51 Gallowtree Gate, Leicester LE1 5AD.
Always and always facing toward the Light is part of a programme of events in Leicester supported by a grant of £189,500 from the Government’s Centenary Cities fund.
Since February 2018, when the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage was commemorated in Leicester with the unveiling of a statue of Alice Hawkins, a programme of talks has been taking Alice’s story to children at schools across the city and the county, while around 500 children took part in a centenary event in Leicester’s new market square last July.
There’s also still time to visit a free exhibition at New Walk Museum that features memorabilia from Alice’s life. Alice Hawkins and Votes for Women! continues until Sunday 24 February.