Leicester unveils bigger, brighter Diwali festival

LEICESTER’S famous Diwali celebrations are set to be bigger and brighter than ever thanks to the introduction of a new two-week Diwali Leicester festival.

Fire sculptures, digital sparklers, and a 100-foot illuminated Ferris wheel are among the exciting new features of the festival, which begins with the switch-on of the city’s Diwali lights on Sunday November 1.

Other new activities include an Indian Summer Diwali Parade through the city centre, live Rangoli at the Clock Tower with international Rangoli artist Janak Chauhan, and a Diwali Mela Bazaar on Humberstone Gate West.

Leicester’s Curve Theatre and Phoenix Cinema will be hosting Diwali-themed events during the fortnight, and there will also be Indian cookery demonstrations on Leicester Market, an art exhibition at the Peepul Centre, and Indian dance at half-time at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium.

Cllr Piara Singh-Clair, asst city mayor for culture, leisure and sport said: “Diwali is always a fantastic time in Leicester, but this year it will be bigger and brighter than ever as we introduce our two-week long Diwali Leicester Festival.

“As well as the traditional activities and wonderful food and shopping on the Golden Mile, this year we will also have activities in the city centre, in our libraries and museums, and even at the football stadium.

“For anyone who’s never experienced Diwali before I hope that you will join us in Leicester to take part in our celebrations and enjoy the festival of light.”

Already said to be one of the biggest Diwali events outside India, Leicester’s celebrations regularly attract more than 35,000 people to the city for the switch-on of its lights, and for its Diwali Day event.

Diwali is a religious event celebrated mainly by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. In Leicester, it brings together people of all faiths to enjoy the colours, lights and music that are a key part of the celebrations.

The annual lights switch-on celebration will take place on Belgrave Road, starting at 5.30pm on Sunday November 1, with a colourful stage programme building up to the switch-on at 7.30pm. Spectacular fireworks will follow on Cossington Street Recreation Ground from 8pm.

Cossington Street will also host an atmospheric fire garden on switch-on day, where fire sculptures and installations will light-up the park from 5.30pm to 9.30pm.

Diwali Day on Wednesday November 11 will be marked with more entertainment on Belgrave Road starting at 6pm, followed by fireworks on Cossington Street.

The giant Ferris wheel will be located off the Belgrave Road by the Bramah Samaj Hall, from Friday October 16 to Sunday November 15. It will move to Leicester’s Jubilee Square in time for the switch-on of the Christmas lights on Sunday November 22.

Leicester’s Diwali lights stretch along the city’s Golden Mile (Belgrave Road and Melton Road), and are made up of 1,000 metres of garland and more than 6,000 lamps.

For more information and to see the full festival programme, go to www.visitleicester.info/diwali