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Riverside Festival celebrates 25 years of bringing free fun to Leicester

The Riverside festival in Leicester

LEICESTER’S Riverside Festival is returning to the city to celebrate its 25th anniversary – and this year it’s bigger than ever!

The free festival, which takes place on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 June, will include activities on and off the water, at locations including Bede Park, Western Boulevard, Castle Gardens and - new for this year - the De Montfort University (DMU) campus.

For those wanting to get close to the action, colourful boats from across the region will be offering trips on the river. Have a splash about in a kayak with Paddle Plus or take a narrowboat trip with Sileby Mill Boatyard. Local disability charity Mosaic will be there with Sunbeam II, their fully accessible boat.

On the Sunday, exciting dragon boat racing will take place, hosted by local charity PROSTaid. If you fancy joining in the racing, no experience is required, just a boat full of enthusiasm and 10 individuals willing to give it their all!

On land, there will be activities for the whole family to enjoy, including a new outdoor cinema on the big screen at DMU. It will be showing content from Leicester-based creative companies, historic archives and the original 1992 animated series of the Beatrix Potter collection.

A full programme of music will be on offer, with a main stage on the piazza, chilled Ibiza classics in the tipi on Bede Park and the chance for visitors to have a go at DJing on the DMU campus. Other attractions and activities will include a funfair, crazy golf, an extreme mountain bike show and pop-up dance performances.

Children can choose from activities including arts and crafts, a ‘creative constructors’ workshop and outdoor theatre from a Bee-rilliant Adventure, while visitors of all ages can take a trip on the Riverside Land Train, linking up some of the heritage sites that will be open over the weekend.

Global street food, craft ales and cocktails will be on offer from a range of bars and traders, plus there’s the chance to view and buy the work of local artists and makers, as Art on the River returns.

Cllr Vi Dempster, assistant city mayor for leisure and culture, said: “The Riverside festival is one of Leicester’s largest free festivals, and attracts up to 40,000 visitors to the city. This year, it’s bigger than ever, and we’re delighted to welcome De Montfort University as a partner in this hugely popular event.

“Like all our festivals, the aim of the Riverside Festival is to bring people together to celebrate all that’s good about our city – from our river and green spaces to the modern university campus and our wonderful heritage. It’s also a chance to showcase the diverse range of music, dance and arts that makes Leicester so special.

“The Riverside Festival will offer something for everyone and we look forward to welcoming tens of thousands of people to enjoy the weekend and celebrate our 25th anniversary with us.”  

Sarah Thomson, director of engagement at De Montfort University, said: “DMU is thrilled to be in partnership with the city council to bring to the communities of Leicester this fabulous event. It has traditionally taken place close by and this year we are delighted to be able to bring visitors on to our campus to enjoy the festival. The partnership between DMU and Riverside is something we hope to grow, and we look forward to supporting the festival this year.”

To find out more, visit

To get involved in the dragon boat racing and start a team, contact