Video: What YOU can do in Leicester this Christmas

By Thomas Carter and Luke Williamson

With the holiday season upon us, Christmas spirit has well and truly landed in Leicester.

Leicestershire Press reporters Thomas and Luke take you on a tour of the city to see all of the festive celebrations on offer.

First up on the tour was the Jubilee Square Ice Rink, which opens this evening (THU,DEC2). Tickets can be purchased at the rink for a 45-minute skating session.

From there, it was on to the Christmas Wheel of Light attraction (next door to the ice rink), where riders of all ages can take in the sights of Leicester.

After being cancelled last year due to Covid-19, Santa Claus will be returning to Leicester at his grotto in Green Dragon Square on Saturday (DEC4).

The lights of Highcross shopping centre, nativity scenes at Town Hall Square and the Clock Tower Christmas tree also feature on the tour.

For more details on festivities in Leicester this year, go to https://www.visitleicester.info/

Heard a whistle and a bang? Foreign student describes first experience of Guy Fawkes Night

In her final year before graduating, De Montfort University International Relations and Journalism student Morgana Ribeiro enjoyed a chance to experience the Bonfire Night and Firework display in Abbey Park, Leicester.  

Shortly after arriving in Leicester, I started exploring the green spaces around. It wasn’t long before I found Abbey Park and made it my go-to place. I have been to Abbey Park countless times since. 

But never had I imagined I would see it ‘catch fire’, so to speak. 

On Saturday (NOV 6) the biggest bonfire in Leicester was lit on one of Abbey Park’s beautiful lawns as a long firework display coloured the sky. It was Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night. 

Before the dreadful restrictions COVID called for, every November would be welcomed by fireworks and celebrations – a nice contrast with the almost somber end of October. First, Diwali and then Guy Fawkes Night.  

Very succinctly, Guy Fawkes Night is a commemoration of the failure of the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ in1605 – an attempted treason to the Protestant crown. Some say the fireworks launched on this day represent the explosives that were never used on that day in 1605. 

In 2020 the global pandemic did not allow the celebration to take place, but it sure made a thunderous return this year. 

Visions of the funfair. Photo by Hikari Funayama.

I had received tickets for the event, courtesy of the International Student Support team at DMU, and agreed to attend almost oblivious to what it was. My i-buddy and I had no idea what awaited us. As we walked in, we watched performers dancing with fire, which was beautiful, and then we started to explore the funfair. There you could find your typical funfair games and my i-buddy, having never had a go, was eager to try and knock down some cans. So, we did – or tried.  

As we walked back to the food stands, we saw it. We saw the fire burning. It was so bizarre. I mean, these were actual flames burning high and, mind you, surrounded by trees. But it was hypnotising. After getting a bag of chestnuts and a gigantic hot dog for my i-buddy we took a seat under a tree close to the fire. “It might keep us a little warmer,” we thought. 

Then, cued by the hosts, everyone started a countdown excited. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we’d get to zero.  

All the lights went out and the firework display started. It lasted for about 20 minutes, and it was brilliant. Being under the fireworks is a whole other experience.  

By the end, it felt like the whole sky was sparkling in gold, red and green, which nearly made me sleigh right into the Christmas spirit. 

We made our way out in the end as the lights went back on. The smell of fire and smoke from the beautifully loud show was now all that was left. It was a great experience overall and it allowed me to get to know the city a little better, which, really, is what this is all about. 

A sneak peak of the firework display. Video taken by Hikari Funayama.

Leicester Cathedral welcomes all to immersive ‘sound and light installation’

by Abigail Beresford

Leicester Cathedral is welcoming visitors this week to an immersive light and sound show, in co-ordination with Journeys Festival International, to allow attendees to connect with the world around them.

‘Where There is Light’ is an interactive experience, where visitors can walk amongst colourful and bright illuminations, whilst listening to the tranquil soundtrack of everyday people, discussing ways in which we can connect with our wider community, in the hope of improving cohesion.

ArtReach, BID Leicester and Leicester Cathedral have worked in conjunction with one another to bring the installation to Leicester.

“Where There is Light offers a beautiful moment, a break in people’s day-to-day lives, a space to look outside of themselves, to come together, and share a sense of connection and hope,” said Lynn Simmonds, General Manager of ArtReach.

“With the pandemic continuing to impact our daily lives, we hope to start to rebuild, reconnect, and transform how communities connect in a time of isolation and loneliness.”

The event is proving to be a popular hub for parents to entertain their children over the October half-term period.

“The kids have enjoyed trying something new and different, rather than being at home sat in front of their iPads all day,” told Logan McNamara, 34, father of two, visiting from Derbyshire.

“I think the concept is a great idea,” he added. “Introducing children to a world where we are all connected with one another is an essential. A life of isolation is all they know because of the pandemic, so encouraging them to get involved with the community around them is a big deal!”

“I’ve loved that my children have enjoyed coming here! It has allowed them to learn more about the world around them, whilst relating it back to our religious background,” said Julia Wright, 40, from Leicestershire.

Leicester is the first destination for the event, running until October 24, before further progressing to Portsmouth and Manchester.

Tickets are offered on a ‘pay what you can’ arrangement, where attendees can choose to make a charitable donation, or attend for free.

To book your ticket, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/where-there-is-light-tickets-169977821239

Spill the Equali-Tea – a limited podcast series on social justice issues

Second year Broadcast Journalism students have produced a limited podcast series exploring a range of social justice issues in society as part of their radio journalism module. Each episode is 10 minutes long and is fronted by individual students. Topics include the gender pay gap in media industries, gender inequality in football, financial struggle due to Covid-19, and inequality in the stock market.

Listen via here or search for Spill the Equali-tea on Spotify/Apple podcasts

Debates to be held over Simon De Montfort’s name in relation to DMU

By Kira Gibson

De Montfort University is holding an online debate regarding the historical context of Simon De Montfort in relation to the university. 

Students have campaigned to get the name of the university changed after it was highlighted that Simon De Montfort, the university’s namesake, had expelled the small Jewish community from Leicester in 1231. 

The campaign was started by De Montfort University Students’ Union (DSU) towards the end of 2020. 

The first event to discuss this will be on March 24 at 2-3pm for students and staff who identify as Jewish. 

The second will take place a day later on March 25 between 5pm and 6.30pm, with DMU stating that this discussion will be the first of many. 

The DMU website says: “The debate panel will consist of a representative of DSU alongside three historians who specialise in heritage, British Jewry and Leicester, in order to provide a range of perspectives and opinions. Each panel member will be given 10 minutes to present their views, followed by questions from staff and students.”

The debate will consist of three topics: the historical context of Simon De Montfort, whether historical context matters in the pursuit for social justice and what the appropriate path is for tackling historical wrongs. 

To book your place onto these events, please email eventsoffice@dmu.ac.uk and you will receive a link to join this event 24 hours prior, so be sure to keep an eye on your email as to not miss out on these debates.