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Preparations underway for city’s Riverside Festival

Last year's Riverside Festival near Bede Park

A WEEKEND of free, family-themed fun and activities will take place along Leicester’s River Soar as the city’s summer events programme gets underway.

The annual Riverside Festival takes place on June 3 and 4 across four areas of the city’s West End – Bede Park, Castle Gardens, Western Boulevard, and the Mile Straight of the River Soar – featuring fun on and off the water.

Bede Park will feature family activities including a funfair, an array of stalls and street food and a fully-licensed bar. The best in local live musical talent will also take centre stage, with performances at Bede Park and the nearby Piazza.

A new addition for 2023 - the Riverside Sports Zone – will offer visitors a range of pop-up activities from Leicester City in the Community, Leicester City Hockey Club and Beat The Streets among others. A 26ft climbing wall will also be onsite to challenge those with a head for heights.

The onstage line-up this year includes:


  • HQ Showcase
  • Eava FM Showcase
  • Stevie Jones and The Wildfires
  • Amber Saqladi
  • Blues Irregulars
  • Jersey Budd


  • 2 Funky Arts Showcase
  • The Deceivers
  • Sing for Water Showcase
  • Sorrell
  • The Heartland Roots

An arts and crafts market, including a chance for local artists to display and sell their works, will take place along Western Boulevard. Danny’s Extreme Mountain Bike Show, Cyclone Works and free secure bike parking will be on hand for those choosing to travel on two wheels.

Colourful vessels of all shapes and sizes will take to the River Soar itself, including live demos, boat trips and the fully-accessible boat Sunbeam II. 

Castle Gardens will offer a bar and street food, as well as a programme of fun activities.

Visitors can get crafty with yarn bombing and enjoy a fabulous outdoor theatre space to watch The Ugly Bugs puppet show.

There will be a BrightSparks Arts in Health showcase, with live comedy, music, visual arts and dance.

Arts organisation Opal22 is encouraging diverse families of Leicester to wear their finest cultural garments and will be offering families a free portrait and a digital print as part of the Casta event series.

Visitors will also be able to explore two new walking trails showcasing artwork and items from the city’s heritage.

The first We Are Leicester trail, called Up Your Street, focuses on the theme of unity and celebrates the city’s rich diversity. Five artists have collaborated with five local communities to create a piece of art together, with a second produced by the artists themselves.

Artists and communities involved include Adam Kalifa and the Highfields community; Anton Levy Amoo and Rowletts Hill, Rebecca Harvey Hobbs and Eyres Monsell, Traci Howard and Braunstone Gate and Ali Carpenter.

Visitors can follow the trail and look for hidden clues in each with an opportunity to win an art prize by visiting them all.

The second trail, entitled Heritage Hotspots, showcases an archive of images giving a glimpse of the city’s past. The Leicester Museums and Galleries volunteering team will be displaying local highlights from Leicester City Council’s photographic archive, giving a unique opportunity to explore some of the rarely-seen images of the city and riverside from the past 70 years.

A 1950s fire engine, from the Leicester Museums Technology Association, will also be featured.

Leicester deputy city mayor for climate, economy and culture, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “The Riverside Festival has steadily grown over the years to become a firm favourite with families from all over the city.

“Hopefully the sunshine will return in time for this weekend, but there will be something for everyone to enjoy regardless of the weather.”

More information on the Riverside Festival is available from the Visit Leicester website here.