Packed with sporting action and with a strong musical and theatrical history, the wealth of entertainment in Leicester makes it a leading Midlands destination.
Kasabian might have dominated the post-millennium soundtrack, but there’s more to Leicester than being the home of indie rockers.
The second largest purpose-built music venue in the city, the O2 Academy Leicester has a capacity of 1,450 spread over two rooms. Opened in 2010 and built on the Leicester University campus, it has seen the great and good of rock and pop pass through its doors, including Bastille, Catfish and the Bottlemen and, of course, local legends Kasabian. With good lighting, sound and a main stage easy to see from around the building, it’s become the main live music destination in Leicester for indie, alternative, urban and pop acts.
With a much longer history, De Montfort Hall has been hosting live music for over a century and – drum roll, please – has hosted everyone from Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, David Bowie and R.E.M; a veritable A–Z of the music industry. A multi-capacity venue hosting 2,000 standing and over 7,000 in its outdoor arena, it’s now a more diverse venue, featuring West End musicals, comedians, touring opera productions and regular live gigs.
A fiercely independent live music venue in the heart of Leicester’s cultural quarter, The Soundhouse caters for a range of bands and acts, including newcomers such as Rag’n’Bone Man, alongside the 90s and noughties indie rockers John Power (Cast), Dodgy and Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock. With a cosy pub atmosphere, one of the city’s most talked about open mic nights every Tuesday, a beer garden, pool hall and dance floor, this is a one-stop shop for live music fans.
Firebug might be small, but fans would say it’s perfectly formed. Downstairs is the venue’s main bar, while upstairs is where the magic happens. They host live bands, comedians and photography and art exhibitions. Some pretty famous names have stopped by the 100-capacity room, including bands The Dutch Uncles and Foals, as well as comedians Stewart Lee, Richard Herring and Russell Howard. Opened in 2004 and providing an impressive range of beers, a carefully curated cocktail menu and excellent home-cooked food, Firebug has become a bit of a cult favourite among students and young professionals.
Opened in 1994, The Shed underwent a facelift in 2017, bringing the legendary music venue up to date for a new generation of fans. No longer just a music venue, it’s open from midday every day serving up excellent coffees, reliably fast internet and a host of themed nights. With a focus on local art – showcased on the walls as you walk through – The Shed is one of Leicester’s many creative focal points.
Having blessed the world with acting talents including Richard Attenborough, The Hobbit actor Richard Armitage, Monty Python’s Graham Chapman and – Star Wars nerd alert – the original Boba Fett actor Jeremy Bulloch, Leicester has a rich stage and screen history. This is reflected in the city’s theatre output, with half a dozen outstanding venues putting on excellent entertainment, ranging from seasonal pantomimes to one-person shows, all-singing, all-dancing musicals and seriously well-produced drama. From thousand capacity auditoriums to 300-seat performance spaces, we have a dedicated page if you want to find out more about theatres in Leicester.
From big-name TV comics to seriously funny up-and-comers, you’ll find something to tickle your fancy across Leicester’s comedic venues.
Running several times a month, Just The Tonic Comedy Club entertains at Hansom Hall, a former Methodist preaching hall built in Victorian times. The usual format features four comics in quick rotation, with pre-comedy dinner options available alongside regular tickets, including 14-inch pizzas and fancy three-course meals. Part of a nationwide chain, the comedians are of a high standard, offering different takes on comedy, so you should find several to make you chuckle.
A multi-purpose venue, about 20 minutes’ drive from our Leicester South (Oadby) hotel, De Montfort Hall is the place to see big-name comedians in action – and with comedy merchants like Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand, we do mean big names. Shows are usually announced via the venue’s website up to a year in advance and tickets can sell out quickly, so make sure to book ahead to get your giggle on.
The last of Leicester’s comedy trio is Firebug; a city centre bar and event space that has hosted some of the comedy scene’s up-and-coming names, alongside more illustrious jokers such as Stewart Lee and Russell Howard. Thanks to its small space and cool crowd, the bar has been named one of the best in the city and is part of the Leicester Comedy Festival, hosting a week-long laughathon each February.
Mention Leicester and many will automatically think of its sporting heritage. From Leicester Tigers and their domination of English rugby to the city’s against-all-odds Premier League winning football team, the city punches well above its weight in the sporting world.
Described by experts as the greatest sporting upset in history, Leicester City Football Club won the 2015/16 Premier League; an astonishing accomplishment for a team tipped for relegation that season and not having won any top-level silverware since its inauguration in 1884. Home games are played at the King Power Stadium – a 32,500-capacity cauldron of noise that hosted Champions League games in the 2016/17 season.
A far cry from 2008 when the club was relegated to the third tier of English football, few could have foreseen the astonishing rise that followed over the next decade.
Arguably just as impressive as the city’s footballing success is the proud history of Leicester Tigers rugby team, which competed in a record nine successive Premiership finals from 2005 to 2013. One of only four teams never to be relegated from the top division, it was founded in 1880 and is the most successful English rugby club since the sport turned professional. Games are played at the 24,000-capacity Welford Road Stadium, with a current world-class playing squad including England internationals.
Opened in 1883, Leicester Racecourse was once one of the most valuable in the country. It now hosts 31 race meetings a year, including 20 flat races and 11 National Hunt, requiring the horses to navigate fences and ditches. A high-profile racecourse, there are 108 stables on-site and the racecourse now includes a 700-square-metre event space, The Kube, which hosts events and shows. Race days take place throughout the year, with several races each month.
Home to the oldest professional basketball club in Britain, Leicester Riders was founded in 1967 and won a historic treble in the 2012/13 season, taking away the BBL Cup Final, the BBL Championship Title and the BBL Playoff Final. The club currently calls Leicester Arena home – near Abbey Park, and a 15-minute drive from our North West hotel – and also has a successful women’s team who were crowned champions in 2012.
Video guide to entertainment in Leicester
There are no fewer than seven Leicester hotels to suit your needs when planning a visit - so you can choose whatever's best for you, whether you're indulging in some retail therapy or treating yourself to a night out.
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