Music and festivals

From breakbeats to six string, Leicester’s music scene is vibrant with live acts, DJs and open-mic sessions for all to enjoy.

Kasabian are Leicester's favourite musical sons, whilst newcomers Easy Life recently topped the album charts with their EP Junk Food. Meanwhile R&B singer Mahalia has been performing to sold-out venues around the UK, and was nominated in the Best Female Solo Artist category at the Brit Awards 2020.

Leicester has a long tradition of music - indie bands such as Diesel Park West and Cornershop originated here. Frank Benbini from Fun Lovin' Criminals, John Deacon from Queen, Jon Lord from Deep Purple and half the original line-up of Dire Straits were all born here, and Sam Bailey has been a popular local figure since winning The X-Factor in 2013.

You can catch up-and-coming bands alongside chart stars in the O2 Academy in the Students' Union. Other intimate venues around Leicester include The Donkey near campus, The Musician, The Shed and The Cookie.

As well as live music, you can catch the latest music producer or DJ bringing beats to Leicester on nights such as WePresent which is held in the city centre, or for more of a hip hop flavour head to 2Funky Music Café.

Insider Tip: Keep your eye out for ‘Last Friday’ at LCB depot for a bit of street food, Northern Soul, Hip Hop and Jazz.

To find out more, head to Visit Leicester.

And if it’s festival fun you’re after, you’ve come to the right place...

Highlights from the 2019 Leicester Caribbean Carnival

Every February the stand-up comedy world descends on Leicester for the Leicester Comedy Festival. Established in 1994, this is the UK's longest-running comedy festival and is considered one of the top comedy festivals in the world. Big names and rising stars perform at more than 60 venues across the city (including the University's own Attenborough Arts Centre).

In March, Leicester will go digital with Light Up Leicester – an amazing street festival of installations interacting with people through sound or sensors, reacting to light, temperature or humidity levels, or responding to data.

In June, Riverside Festival brings live music and fun to the waterside, on the edge of Leicester city centre.  Enjoy the street market with arts, crafts, tasty street food plus the Ride Leicester cycling area. River Soar & Mile Straight hosts the colourful narrow boat rally, boat trips, canoes, boat rides, demonstrations and the opportunity to view and buy work from local artists at Art on The River.

Leicester also has the second biggest Caribbean Carnival in the UK. On the first Saturday of August, a huge procession of vibrant costumes, amazing floats and Caribbean sound-systems makes and shakes its loud, colourful way through the city up to Victoria Park for music, food, dancing and fun.

Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light, is a very big deal for people from all the city's communities. In fact, Leicester is reputed to have the largest Diwali celebrations outside India! Thousands of lights transform the 'Golden Mile', with enormous crowds attending the switch-on. Take the opportunity to sample some fabulous bhajis, samosas or Indian sweets.

To find out more about what see and do head to Visit Leicester.