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Victorian theme to Open Streets festival

Published on Friday, October 25, 2019

Image shows a poster advertsing Greyfriars Open Streets Oct 2019

THERE’S a Victorian theme to this month’s Open Streets festival in the city centre.

Open Streets is a monthly celebration of the historic Greyfriars area of Leicester, when streets are closed to traffic and opened up for people to enjoy. This month’s event takes place from 1-4pm on Sunday 27 October.

Themed walks, talks and bike rides, on-street entertainment, music and food will be all on offer. Children can have a go on balance bikes, create word art or make a model Victorian house – and all the activities are free.

Watch blacksmith artists at work and have a go at forging hot metal yourself to make a keyring to take home. Or follow the beat as Leicester-based samba band Sambando brings its Brazilian rhythms to the new Market Square. There’s also the chance to watch street artists creating graffiti with a Victorian theme.

At 1pm, you can join a cycle ride taking in the sights of Victorian Leicester – or take a guided walk at 3.15pm. At 3pm, Leicester Cathedral will host a special service featuring Victorian choral music, while at 2.30pm at the King Richard III visitor centre, there’s a talk about famous Victorian Joseph Carey Merrick – known as the Elephant Man - by researcher and author Jo Vigor-Mungovin.

Guided tours of the area will offer insight into the history of Greyfriars and its recent renewal through the Townscape Heritage Initiative.

Booking is not required for any of the activities.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “This is the last of the year’s regular Open Streets events. They’ve been a great way of helping us to think differently about how we use our streets and public spaces.

“Through the regeneration of the Greyfriars area we have been able to explore our city’s rich history as well as bringing activities out onto the streets, encouraging visitors to the area.

“We have to reduce vehicle emissions to help tackle the climate emergency and improve air quality, and events like this show us that this is not only possible, it’s preferable, with the streets opened up for people to enjoy.”

Open Streets is one of a number of actions being carried out by the city council to help reduce vehicle emissions and tackle the climate crisis.

Experts now predict that unless drastic action is taken, we are less than 12 years away from global heating becoming irreversible, with catastrophic results. In response, Leicester City Council declared a climate emergency in February 2019.

Local initiatives such as creating more cycle lanes in the city, improving bus services and promoting take-up of electric vehicles are already under way.

The council also plans to consult on charging employers with parking spaces and investing this income in schemes to further reduce transport emissions.

With Government support, the city council could be on track to be carbon neutral before 2030.

Open Streets is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and is linked to the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative – more than £10m of street scene improvements funded by the city council, property owners and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.