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Riverside Festival will take to Leicester’s waterways

Bede Park during the Riverside Festival

LEICESTER’s biggest free family festival is set to bring alive the city’s waterways and parks once again next month with a fun-packed programme of activities for all ages.

The annual Riverside Festival returns on June 3 and 4, spread over four areas – 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, the Book Bus, an array of stalls and street food and a fully-licensed bar.

New for 2023 is the Riverside Sports Zone. Visitors can take part in pop-up activities from Leicester Riders, Leicester City in the Community and Leicester City Hockey Club among others. Those with a more adventurous streak can try their skills on a 26ft climbing wall.

The acoustic stage returns to Bede Park, with a packed line-up of fantastic local musical talent.

The Main Stage on the Piazza will host a weekend of eclectic sounds from some of Leicester’s most talented musicians, headlined on Saturday by Jersey Budd and on Sunday by The Heartland Roots Band.

The full line-up 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

Western Boulevard will be transformed for the weekend into the hugely-popular arts and crafts market. Art on the River is back, with local artists displaying their unique pieces of work.

Cyclists will be able to make use of a free, secure bike park, along with some Cyclone Works and Danny’s Extreme Mountain Bike Show.

The River Soar will come alive with colourful kayaks, live demos and boat trips, including the fully-accessible boat Sunbeam II. 

Castle Gardens also hosts a fully-licensed 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.

There will also be two new trails, showcasing artwork and items from the city’s heritage, to get visitors moving around the sites.

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 City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Riverside Festival is in many ways the start of the city’s summer programme of events, transforming the areas of Bede Park, the Mile Straight, Castle Gardens and Western Boulevard with a weekend of colourful, family-friendly activities.

“Best of all, it is free to attend, and as a result has proved to be a very popular annual event bringing together the best of the city’s arts, crafts, music and activities for all ages.”

Full details are available at the Visit Leicester website here