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What’s new for visitors to Leicester and Leicestershire in 2023?

Top attractions for families, crafters, history buffs, rockers and more.

Spectacle of Light at Belvoir Castle
Spectacle of Light at Belvoir Castle

Both Leicester and the wider county have a huge range of attractions for visitors and residents to enjoy throughout 2023. There are much-anticipated openings, events and experiences, with more new attractions to come for visitors in 2024.

Our friends at Visit Leicester has compiled a list of the various new openings and anniversaries coming up this year and beyond. From Belvoir Castle’s Spectacle of Light and the new Adventure Playground, to a new exhibition at the King Richard III Visitor Centre, and commemorative anniversaries at Twycross Zoo, Century Theatre and the Great Central Railway.

Tickets are now available for Belvoir Castle's brand new Spectacle of Light (pictured above), a magical after-dark experience which guides visitors along an illuminated trail through the majestic woodland and around the glorious gardens. Discover a fantasy of light, colour and sound from January 27 to February 19. Entry time slots run from 5.30pm onwards, with a typical walk taking approximately 60 - 75 minutes, but visitors are welcome to stay longer.

Visitors can also book tickets for Belvoir Castle’s brand new Adventure Playground, which draws inspiration from the castle’s thrilling history and family stories passed down from generation to generation. Covering four acres, the playground features a giant timber castle, and impressive wooden replica of the HMS Resolution – the ship captained by one of Belvoir’s ancestors Lord Robert – which are all perfect for children and teenagers of all ages to explore.

Opening January 2023, the King Richard III Visitor Centre will launch a brand new augmented reality experience detailing the evolution of the now infamous Greyfriars courtyard – the original burial site of King Richard III. Views will alternate between 1485 Leicester and the modern day, including when the building was first used as a school during the Victorian age, and a realistic look back at the 2012/13 archaeological dig.

The visitor centre will continue to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the re-discovery of King Richard III’s remains with a series of events, starting with Discover DNA on February 18-26, then the Feast & Festivities event on Sunday, April 2, followed by the Medieval Animal Hunt from April 1-16. Finally, the Visitor Centre will celebrate everything around King Richard III’s coronation in May 2023 as Charles Rex III is formally crowned King.

Come January 20, independent cinema and arts centre, the Phoenix, will open the doors to its new extension, an exciting multi-million pound development which will see the addition of two further cinema screens, a larger and more prominent gallery, a roof terrace and a superb café bar. The expansion is part of an ongoing mission to make inspiring film and art available to all.

The new extension at Phoenix. Credit to Marchini Curran Associates.
The new extension at Phoenix. Credit to Marchini Curran Associates.

In 2023, Loughborough’s Great Central Railway will celebrate its 50th year of operation as a Heritage Railway! Visitors will be able to enjoy special celebrations planned for 2023 alongside the attraction’s famous galas and events. These include the Winter Steam Gala from January 27-29. Children will love the Paw Patrol event from February 21-23, which promises to be lots of fun for the family.

Leicester Cathedral is undergoing restoration at present as part of the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project, which is scheduled to end in autumn 2023. Visitors can join Leicester Cathedral’s Site Excavation Tours to discover the archaeological and historical interest around the excavation site of this massive redevelopment project.

Download Festival, the UK’s premier rock festival, will get underway with a four-night special edition, June 8-11, in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Rock fans can look forward to an extravaganza of 60 acts including headliners, Bring Me The Horizon, Slipknot and Metallica. There are brand new VIP options for 2023, including Rock Retreat Camping at Melbourne Hall, Derby, along with an option to upgrade your festival experience with access to the Download Lounge. With a capacity of 111,000, Download is the biggest event that happens in Leicestershire all year and second only to Glastonbury in the UK.

Yet another ‘birthday’ celebration will take place next year at Twycross Zoo, when the attraction will mark its 60th anniversary in May with events throughout the year. Plans will be announced shortly and you can sign up to be the first to know details about upcoming 60th Anniversary activities and events on the Twycross website.

The Century Theatre in Coalville, Leicestershire, Britain’s oldest surviving travelling theatre, will mark its 70th anniversary in 2023 with a weekend of film events that celebrate the theatre’s 1952/53 opening season. Initially set up as a touring theatre in Hinckley, the now purpose-built site hosts a range of high quality shows and arts activities.

For more information on new openings, events and experiences that will take place in Leicester and Leicestershire in 2023, go to the Visit Leicester website.

You can also find more information on places that offer meat-free dining in Leicester and Leicestershire here.

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