After a tumultuous year and a half, venues need your support like never before. Here are some of the best places to see live music, theatre, comedy and more in the city
De Montfort Hall @demontforthall www.demontforthall.co.uk Leicester’s grand civic concert hall sits on the shoulder of Leicester University, like Steve Ovett in the 1500m. Or maybe a more up-to-date reference. In the past it’s played host to acts ranging from Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra, to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden, to the The Clash and U2, to Amy Winehouse and Adele, to … oh, loads more. It welcomes all manner of good touring stuff, from crowd-pleasing theatre shows to top TV comedians to major gigs. Coming up: Laura Marling, Paloma Faith, Kasabian, Alan Carr.
Curve @CurveLeicester www.curveonline.co.uk Leicester’s striking ‘inside-out’ theatre, which was designed to pull back the architectural curtains of a playhouse to allow audiences to get an idea of what goes on behind the scenes. Don’t leave Leicester without visiting at least once. The Exchange bar over the road is good too. Coming up: Simon Amstell, Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell, Tokyo Rose, Derren Brown, A Chorus Line.
O2 Academy @O2AcadLeicester www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academyleicester Two gig venues (capacity 1,400 and 500) built into Leicester University’s Students’ Union as part of a multi-million refurb of the 1950s building back in 2011. The SU had another major makeover this summer. Coming up: The Libertines, Beastwang, The Skints, British Sea Power, Gary Numan.
The Y Theatre @TheYTheatre www.leicesterymca.co.uk/theatre The oldest surviving theatre in Leicester, with a programme that takes in comedy, music and more. Find it near the railway station. Coming up: Gary Delaney, Comedy of Black Origin, Iain Stirling, Sukh Ojla, Slim.
The Little Theatre @thelittleleics www.thelittletheatre.co.uk The stage where a young Richard Attenborough took the first steps of his acting career is home turf for the Leicester Drama Society. The Little Theatre – find it off Granby Street – puts on a panto each year, and also hosts gigs for the Comedy Festival. Coming up: Six Feet Away, My Mother Said I Never Should, Cinderella.
The Big Difference @BigDiff_Venue bd-tickets.co.uk Royal Blood, George Ezra, Blossoms, Wolf Alice, Russell Howard, Romesh Ranganathan, Katherine Ryan and Tom Allen … you’ve missed them all at this cafe/bar/venue on Leicester’s High Street previously known as the Cookie. It’s recently been taken over by the charity behind the Leicester Comedy Festival. Coming up: Olga Koch, Black History Month Comedy Night, Rachel Fairburn, Kae Kurd.
The Musician @MusicianVenue www.themusicianpub.co.uk A little bit hard to find if you don’t know Leicester that well: a small-but-perfectly-formed venue that punches well above its weight, bringing critically-acclaimed American roots artists – among others – to the East Midlands. Coming up: Trials of Cato, Alice Robbins, Alabaster DePlume.
Firebug @FirebugBar firebugbar.net Bar and 100-capacity venue, near to the DMU campus, in the old Gas Offices building on Horsefair Street, which has hosted gigs by Foals, Frank Turner and Frightened Rabbit and comedy shows by Stewart Lee, Russell Howard, Josie Long and more as part of the Bottle Rocket comedy night and Leicester Comedy Festival. Top tip: it does slap-up breakfasts at the weekend too, and they don’t start serving them until midday. Coming up: Echobelly, Gender Roles and Sound of the Sirens.
The Shed @getintheshed94 getintheshed.co.uk Seedbed venue that first opened its doors in the mid-1990s. Home to the Ambush alt-club night, with past guest DJs including Enter Shikari, IDLES and more. Coming up: Miss Bowie, Ohana, Oceans Apart.
2Funky Music Cafe @2funkymusiccafe 2funkycomplex.co.uk West End – no, not that one – venue, just off Braunstone Gate … so really handy for the DMU campus. Club nights and tribute acts galore, and it’s recently had a major refurb. Coming up: Sicaria Sound, Carroll Thompson, And Still I Rise, Polski Stand-Up w Leicester.
Attenborough Arts @AttenboroughAC attenborougharts.com Leicester University’s public arts venue, which offers a mix of performances, exhibitions and courses. Coming up: Chief Springs.
Upstairs at the Western @UpstairsWestern upstairsatthewestern.com Leicester’s only pub theatre – just 42 seats above one of the city’s best-loved neighbourhood boozers. Coming up: Too Pretty To Punch, Doomscroll.
The Phoenix @PhoenixLeic www.phoenix.org.uk Leicester’s independent arthouse cinema, with an ace cafe. Well worth the schlep to the other side of town.
Cinema de Lux www.showcasecinemas.co.uk Your nearest – and swishest – cinema. All the big new releases, and pretty much right on your doorstep. Fancy seats available too.