Thousands turn out for return of Leicester Diwali lights switch-on

By Luke Williamson

Leicester’s Diwali celebrations kicked off with the annual lights switch-on this weekend on Belgrave Road.

Thousands gathered on the Golden Mile for the first time in two years on Sunday [OCT24] after last year’s celebrations took place virtually due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

This year’s switch-on differed from previous years with giant screens at the Belgrave Circle as well as on the junction of Wand Street and at the Cossington Street Recreation Ground showing a pre-recorded video showcasing some Leicester “classical and Bollywood” performers.

The Wheel of Light also returned, alongside other funfair games, food stalls and other stalls selling a variety of items.

The Wheel of Light illuminates the night’s sky. PICTURE. Luke Williamson

The people attending were very happy to be back out and amongst after last year’s muted festivities.

Bali Singh, from Leicester, said: “Diwali is a time for everyone to come together and celebrate together.

“We all just want to be out here all together and having fun, that is what it is about.

“It is much better now after last year’s lockdown that we can celebrate together here,” he added.

The usual firework display did not take place, with a Fire Garden on Cossington Street Recreation Ground replacing them.

The multiple screens aimed to reduce the crowd levels and close contact with people as fears over the rising Covid-19 cases grow.

Large scale events in other cities such as Nottingham and Manchester have been cancelled but the Diwali celebrations as well as the Abbey Park Bonfire Night display will all still go ahead.

The Belgrave Road Neighbourhood Centre bright in the lights at the Diwali Light’s Switch-on. PICTURE. Luke Williamson

The most recent seven-day average number of cases in Leicester per 100,000 was 342.9 compared to Nottingham’s average of 264 and Manchester’s 317.1.

Councillor Piara Singh Clair, Deputy city mayor for culture, told the council’s website: “We were determined to do all we could to bring the Diwali celebrations back to the streets of Leicester this year while making public safety our priority.

“The three giant screens mean that people won’t need to congregate in the same space at the same time.

“We hope we can encourage people to join the celebrations at different times throughout the evening,” he added.

Leicester’s celebrations are thought to be the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India, and they return on Diwali Day itself with more festivities on Thursday, November 4.

You can read more about the city’s plans for the Diwali celebrations by visiting the website, https://www.visitleicester.info/whats-on/diwali-day-p723901.

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