We spent the weekend as guests of Visit Leicester, trying out a whole host of things that Leicester has to offer residents and visitors over Christmas. We had a great stay and can highly recommend Leicester as a place for Christmas shopping and festive fun!
During our trip, we visited the Christmas Market, the ice rink and the Christmas Wheel of Light in Jubilee Square, had dinner at Peter Pizzeria, and saw Scrooge the Musical at Curve. We stayed overnight at the Ramada Encore on Charles Street which is very handy for Curve and for the shopping district.
Jubilee Square Ice Rink
Jubilee Square Ice Rink is in Leicester from the 9th December to the 8th January 2018. It is outside, but under cover, which means it’s not so susceptible to the British weather.
Sessions are hourly – you book at the BBC Box Office building just opposite. You can just turn up and hope there is a slot available, but if you want to book in advance to secure your space, you can.
You need to turn up a few minutes before your session time to get booted up, and put your things in a locker (available and free of charge but limited) or find somewhere/someone to stash your things.
You can hire a penguin or seal for your small child at an extra cost (I think it’s about £3 extra).
The time comes and you’re off! You get 45 minutes on the ice, which is plenty of time. My teen could have gone round all day. My legs were dropping off after 30 minutes. I’m getting way too old!
The rink was busy on our visit but we could get some speed up. The surface was a little rough when we visited but it is actually proper ice, which isn’t always the case with pop-up rinks. The music was Disney tunes, festive songs, and the odd zig-a-zig-ahh. Cheesy but appropriate for the mainly-family audience.
This was a brilliant activity to do in Leicester and we highly recommend a trip to get you in the festive spirit or as a way of burning off some energy after your Christmas binge.
You can see our stylish and professional-level ice-skating (maybe) on our video
For more information about Jubilee Square Ice Rink – please see Visit Leicester
Christmas Wheel of Light
The Christmas Wheel of Light is right next door to the ice rink. Again, you can get your tickets from the BBC building right opposite. You don’t need to book a time slot for this – just turn up, get your tickets, and join the queue. In our instance, there wasn’t a queue at all and we got straight on.
Your trip is a few turns around lasting about ten minutes. You get some great views over Leicester city centre. We didn’t really know what we were looking for, though we did recognise the tower from the National Space Centre. If you’re a Leicester expert, then this is a fantastic way of landmark spotting.
There are sides on the gondolas so you’re protected from the weather. It was windy on the day of our visit but it didn’t feel windy, even when we were right at the top of the wheel. I would wrap up warm still – it is December! There is also a wheelchair-accessible gondola available.
For more information about the Christmas Wheel of Light – see Visit Leicester
Again, it will be in Jubilee Square until the 8th January. Charges apply.
Leicester Christmas Market and Christmas Shopping
Leicester city centre has gotten very festive! Not only have the regular shops and market gone all Christmassy, but there is also a Christmas market and streets lined with Christmas lights.
There is an official Leicester Festive Trail which you can follow to make the most of your Christmas experience – more information at https://www.visitleicester.info/explore/featured-articles/leicesters-festive-trail
The trail follows the main shopping streets and incorporates the Narnia tableau and traditional nativity scene in Town Hall Square, and the giant Christmas tree next to the Clock Tower. There is also a festive fairground next to the Haymarket centre.
The Christmas market is behind the regular market. The indoor and covered market is the one thing I remember from childhood visits to Leicester. I remember us going to Gary Lineker’s dad’s fruit and veg stall and just looking. I don’t think we ever bought anything but as football mad children, this was an exciting thing to do. I also remember all the Asian fashion stalls. Coming from East Yorkshire I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone wearing a sari, let alone shops and stalls selling oriental fabrics and such to make them. To us children, Leicester was an interesting place.
Anyway, I digress. The Christmas market isn’t as big as the regular market, but we enjoyed having a look around the stalls. We may or may not have helped Santa by buying a couple of things. The bath bomb stall was probably our favourite.
You can see the market on our video.
Leicester is pretty good for Christmas shopping. There are all the regular shops you would expect and more. I remember visiting the Haymarket centre as a child, though it looks like it’s changed a little in 25 years. There is a Primark and a H&M. We visited The Works, and also Shoezone (I still can’t find any new boots I like but then I am very fussy with shoes), and had a good look at the Christmas displays in the windows.
We also bumped into some snowballs in St Martin’s Square
We had a lovely afternoon around Leicester city centre and it made us feel even more festive and ready for Christmas. Thanks so much to Visit Leicester for arranging our trip.
We have more to follow – in the evening, we went to Peter Pizzeria for a pre-show dinner before we headed up to Curve to watch the acclaimed Scrooge the Musical. We stayed at Ramada Encore overnight too, which was very nice and handy for the theatre.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Disclosure – we were guests of Visit Leicester for the duration of our trip.