Leicester Pride 2015

Saturday 5th September 2015

It is with great pride

that hundreds of people took to the streets today to celebrate Leicester’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. And what a marvellous event it was.

Leicester Pride parade 2015
Leicester Pride parade 2015

The parade started at Orton Square and made its way to Victoria Park.

The rainbow flag, Leicester Pride 2015.
The rainbow flag, Leicester Pride 2015.

As with all Pride parades there was the huge rainbow flag, the international symbol of gay pride, carried by a team of people, happy to show the world what being out and proud is all about.

Festival goers at Pride 2015. Photo: Trevor Sewell.
Festival goers at Pride 2015.
Photo: Trevor Sewell.

The crowd gathered at Victoria Park to enjoy a day of live music from the main stage and from the DJ tent for a show that lasted from 12 noon to 8pm.

The DJ Tent, Leicester Pride 2015.
The DJ Tent, Leicester Pride 2015.

On the main stage Councillor Rory Palmer, the deputy Mayor of Leicester, welcomed everyone on behalf of the city’s authorities.

Leicester Pride 2015. Photo: Trevor Sewell.
Leicester Pride 2015.
Photo: Trevor Sewell.

The stage brought a host of singers and dancers and entertainers.

Leicester Pride 2015. Photo: Trevor Sewell.
Leicester Pride 2015.
Photo: Trevor Sewell.

Artists from Leicester and around the UK came on stage to entertain the crowd.

Leicester Pride 2015. Photo: Trevor Sewell.
Leicester Pride 2015.
Photo: Trevor Sewell.

Two artists in particular were of international standing.  Sam Bailey, from Leicestershire and a winner of the TV series X Factor, was one of the star attractions of the day.

Leicester Pride 2015. Photo: Trevor Sewell.
Leicester Pride 2015.
Photo: Trevor Sewell.

Sam sang many of the songs for which she is known and remembered.

Leicester Pride 2015.
Leicester Pride 2015.

Another artist who is famous throughout the world is Lisa Lashes.

Leicester Pride 2015. Photo: Trevor Sewell.
Leicester Pride 2015.
Photo: Trevor Sewell.

During her appearance pyrotecnic artists put on some dazzling displays.

Leicester Pride 2015. Photo: Trevor Sewell.
Leicester Pride 2015.
Photo: Trevor Sewell.

The stage provided a whole day of entertainment free of charge for everybody who wanted to be there.

Leicester Pride 2015. Photo: Trevor Sewell.
Leicester Pride 2015.
Photo: Trevor Sewell.

The weather was kind giving festival-goers sunny periods and dry conditions throughout the day.

Artists on the programme included:

Lisa Lashes (DJ) , Robbie Lewis, (DJ), Gareth Hazard (DJ), Alex Dewinter (DJ), Bimbo Jones (DJ), Andy Smith (DJ), Rob Lambeth (DJ), Sparki Trowell (DJ). Stephen Bailey, Miss Marty, Miss Penny, Diva Fever, Brenda Edwards, Chris Shaulders, Lee Bennett, Lea Martin.

In an article about A History of Pride and Why We Need It, in the programme, is said

Influenced by the Stonewall Rebellion in the USA that started on 28th June 1969, The first UK Pride rally was hel in London in 1972 with 1,000 people marching from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park, only five years after relations between two males had been decriminalised. The people who marched in this rally would have been subject to barrage of abuse and misconceptions somewhat similar to that seen only last year at a Gay Pride festival in Russia.

Nothing like this happened in Leicester in 2015. It was a day that many will remember with happiness and joy.

See also:

Our report on Leicester Pride 2014



Sunday 9th August 2015

The History of Music in Leicester

The second in a series of articles. These articles lay the foundations for a book bearing the same title. In this respect the articles sketch and outline a more substantial work into which much more detail will be deposited. This article has cantered through the content and has omitted a great detail of detail. My aim in publishing this article (and those that will follow) is to stimulate interest in the subject of Leicester’s musical history. The problem for me, in writing these articles, is not what to leave out – but what to put in.

Music and Technology

Imagine, if you will, that you are suddenly transported into a world where electrical gadgets do not exist. Perhaps this is our world, of today, and an alien power had beamed around the globe, rays that have disabled every small electrical appliance. We have no computers, laptops, smart phones, pads, tablets, radios, televisions… everything that we used to listen to music had been disabled. Now you are living living a world where, the only way you can listen to music is to hear it played live, in front of you, by musicians playing wooden instruments or other kinds of devices that can make sounds but without the use of any electrical power.

You are now in a world that existed before the invention of electricity. The only way you can hear music is the way that our ancestors heard it. It is always live and it is always played on instruments that are powered by the hand or the lungs of those using them. Since the creation of the very first musical sounds, that is how people heard music.

In Leicester, the introduction and mass ownership of electrical goods defined and shaped musical tastes. The gramophone, the radio, the television, the Walkman, the transistor radio and eventually the Internet changed the way people listened to music and changed access to music. Music lovers were increasingly given access to the music of other countries, cultures and eras. The depended on the introduction of either batteries or the availability of public electricity supplies. The first homes in Leicester started to be lit by electricity in 1894. The electric light bulb was invented around 1880. Electricity supplies began from around 1894 in Leicester.

What I want to do, in this article, is plot the time line of the way that electrical technology has changed the way that the people of Leicester have found and listened to music. Peoples’ access to music was revolutionised by the mass availability of the radio and the record player. Later the widespread adoption of television sets further increased access to music in the everyday lives of ordinary people. In Leicester the broadcast media, the growth of record stores and later on the emergence of the Internet, gave people more access to music than was the case when their only choice was live music venues.

Radios, record players and the television

Prior to the emergence of radio and record players, music was performed live and listening to it would have been a relatively rare event for the majority of people. This was changed by the advent of the mass ownership of the record player or phonograph

an early phonograph
an early phonograph

The record player was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. Also known as the Phonograph or gramophone, the record player began with a rotating cylinder, being replaced by flat discs in the 1890s. It was not until the 1980s that the traditional large record was replaced by the compact disk

Phonograph cylinders
Phonograph cylinders

To begin with, the phonograph was the preserve of the rich and did not achieve mass ownership until the 1930s, when factories began to mass produce players at a price that was affordable by the average household. This happened in tandem with the mass production of cheap records.

The rise of record players gave people access to music on demand and meant that people could listen to songs far more frequently than was previously the case, when going to a live performance was the only way that people could hear music.

It was not until the mid to late 1980s that the record player would be widely replaced by the Compact Disk player.  The CD became commercially available from 1982 although its mass availability in the UK would have followed a few years later. A recordable CD – the CD-ROM – came out in 1983/5. It was not until the early 2000s that the CD player began to display the widely used audio cassette player. The first commercial CD was released in 1982 but it was not until 1988 that CD sales began to overtake those of the vinyl record. In the 1980s (and probably into the 1990s) unsigned local bands would have recorded their music on to cassette tapes, unless they were wealthy enough to produce their own vinyl records. In the 2000s, bands started to produce music CDs for their fans when players became cheap enough for the majority of fans to own one.

The early 1960s saw the introduction of the music cassette, a compact tape-player which began to reach a mass market when Sony introduced its Walkman in 1979.

Sony Walkman
Sony Walkman

During the late Victoria period and early twentieth century, musical instruments became more widely available. The guitar became a popular instrument that was easy to learn and which could be purchased either new or from shops that sold them second-hand. It was in late Victorian times that pianos became affordable and many homes began to have them. Prior to that it was only the better off in society who could afford to purchase and play musical instruments. This created a sense of being able to participate in music rather than being just a passive consumer of it.

It was the mass ownership of radio receivers that really transformed access to music as well as musical tastes. In the late 40s and early 50s,when I was a child, I remember the radio being more or less constantly switched on. Our family home also had a record player which was played frequently. My childhood was filled with music. We listened to the Home Service, the forerunner of what we now know as Radio 4. Whilst all members of my immediate family owned music instruments and could play them, my main access to music was through the radio. When I became a teenager, I had my own radio and could choose which programmes I wanted to listen to; so, in this regard, my experience is typical of my generation.

An early radio set
An early radio set

The first radio transmitter was erected in London in 1922. The BBC’s Broadcasting House opened in May 1932. Radio Leicester was launched on 8 November 1967. During the years of the second world war, the television service was suspended and everyone listened to the radio (mainly the Home Service.) Programmes such as ITMA attracted 16 million listeners. The Forces Programme was launched in 1940 initially for the troops in France.

I remember Family Favourites, which started in 1945, and, having parents from a naval background, this was required listening in our home. The programme had a huge influence on my childhood and my familiarity with popular music. Other programmes, such as Listen with Mother – boosted the importance of radio broadcasting in our home and I think that was the case for a very large number of other people born in the post-war period.

In 1959 the BBC began to broadcast Juke Box Jury and DJs like David Jacobs, Alan Freeman and Pete Murray, started to become household names. New programmes started like Pick of the Pops. Music stars were born; Elvis and Cliff Richard owed their emerging popularity to the radio, as well as to record sales in the shops. The radio introduced the top 40 chart programme and, on Sunday afternoons, a quarter of the population tuned in to listen to it.

Juke Box Jury 1959
Juke Box Jury 1959

This period also saw the rise of popular music magazines and newspapers, such as The New Musical Express, Melody Maker and Record Mirror. Paper-based national daily newspapers also printed stories about the world of music and its celebrity stars. The forerunner of The Leicester Mercury began in 1874. By the time Queen Victoria died in 1901, the Mercury was a widely read local newspaper and it had begun to include photographs. When World War Two ended in 1954, the paper reported ‘Hot off the press, the Mercury captured the mood of the nation by producing a special VE. edition, while 10,000 people attending a thanksgiving service in Town Hall Square.’ Even in those days, great moments in history saw people celebrating or doing things face to face. They might have read the news but their immediate reaction was to take to the streets in large numbers.

Even though the BBC had a legalised monopoly on broadcasting, people listened to pirate radio stations, such as Radio Luxembourg and Radio London in the 1960s. The 1970s and 80s saw a considerable growth in commercial radio stations. The English version of Radio Luxembourg began as early as 1933. Radio Caroline broadcast from a ship in the North Sea, outside of UK waters.

In the years from 1933 to 1939 the English language service of Radio Luxembourg gained a large audience in the UK and other European countries with sponsored programming aired from noon until midnight on Sundays and at various times during the rest of the week. 11% of Britons listened to it during the week, preferring Luxembourg’s light music and variety programs to the BBC. [Wikipedia]

Commercial radio made its mark on the audiences of Leicester in the 1980s.

Centre Radio was the first independent local radio station to serve Leicestershire. It was based as at the lavish Granville House, Leicester, England. Centre Radio launched on 7 September 1981 in a blaze of publicity. The station’s licence was re-advertised and won by Leicester Sound, which commenced broadcasting on 7 September 1984. Leicester Sound merged with Trent FM and Ram FM in January 2011 to form the regional station Capital FM East Midlands, based in Nottingham. [Wikipedia]

With the advent of mass ownership of television sets, people began to watch rather than to just listen to broadcast programmes. As a child, I vividly remember watching the live broadcast of the Coronation (2nd June 1953) on a small black and white TV set in my parents home.

An early TV set
An early TV set

Top of the Pops started in January 1964 and for many years of my early life, this was a ‘must watch’ programme, as much as listening to the radio on Sunday afternoons, to hear the latest chart hits. Today, festivals such as Glastonbury, can be watched on the television. On YouTube there are innumerable video films of artists performing at Glastonbudget and other open-air live music events in our local area.

The first music festivals began

Live music was by no means killed off by the broadcast media and the record industry. Music festivals began to be organised in the UK, bringing a whole new approach to live music and access to bands and singers.

1989 – believed to be the start of the Abbey Park Festival – would have been influenced by the growing national scene for music festivals, the largest of which began in the 1960s. Glastonbury began in the 1970s and the forerunner of the Reading Festival in the 1960s. It was not until 2003 that Download started on the borders of Leicestershire as a follow-up to the Monsters of Rock events held at Donnington Park between 1980 and 1996.

Free festivals were held in the UK between 1967 and 1990. Some people might remember Roger Hutchinson, who who created the iconic Stonehenge Free Festival poster of 1987.

Roger developed a passion for local history and for much of the decade was busy preserving barges and canals – seemingly light years away from tripping at Stonehenge, but I think connected . Whatever Roger was involved in, he gave it his all and he was, despite not being very well in the last three years of his life, creative and positive and keeping busy, whether it was making a film about taking his dog for a morning walk , or creating his superb drawings of his beloved Leicester for the canal group.

He died in 2010. Su Barton knew him. You can find out more about Roger Hutchinson on Facebook

Poster for the Stonehenge Free Festival
Poster for the Stonehenge Free Festival

Many people with a knowledge of music from the 1950s through to the 1980s have contributed to articles available on the Internet.

My friend and one-time publisher Alan Dearling’s book Travelling Daze vividly evokes the early times of the free festivals.

Music festivals have, since their inception, rejuvenated interest in live music. By 2010, around two million people attended music festival in the UK. National events, such as Download, Reading and Leeds festivals and Glastonbury, have attracted large numbers of music fans from Leicester. These days, we can get some ideas of this from the postings they make on Facebook and Twitter. Many local festivals have attracted large numbers of people: Simon Says…, Summer Sundae, Glastonbudget, Strawberry Fields, Cosby Big Love, Foxton Locks, White Noise, all of these have proven to be popular with the people of Leicester and Leicester shire over the years. Many other large-scale public events such as Caribbean Carnival and The Belgrave Mela have provided live music alongside their other activities.

My previous article gave details of the rise of music festivals in Leicester.

Record stores in Leicester

The mass ownership of record players changed the way that people in Leicester listened to music. Previously, only wealthy people could afford to buy them. As the electrical equipment manufacturing companies began to produce ever cheaper players, more and more people owned them and also the records to play on them. This gave rise to the record retail trade in Leicester. Rockaboom opened in 1988; it joined Facebook in 2010.

Rockaboom on Facebook

An early transistor radio
An early transistor radio

Ultima Thule was established in 1989, originally in Exchange Buildings in Rutland Street, moving later on to Conduit Street. It was run by Steve and Alan Freeman.

Ten years ago Leicester was full of independent record shops and they were a recognisable feature of our City Centre. Music fans spent hours flicking through hundreds of records on a weekend looking for that special edition picture disc, admiring the album covers referencing politics, fashion – you name it. [Raegan Oates writing in The Monograph in 2013].

St. Martin’s Records, originally in St Martins Square, later moved to Horsefair Street. Martyn Pole told me that he bought nearly all his records there when when has a DJ in the early 1980s. Leicester people will remember Ainsleys, Archer Records, Back Track Records, Boogaloo Records and St Martin’s Records. HMV’s store in the High Street and Virgin Records in The Highcross centre (then called The Shires) also provided retail outlets in the city centre. After 15 years 2Funky closed in 2012. In its time it was a popular destination for record-buyers, especially those wanting the more esoteric and experimental genres of music.

This web page gives a comprehensive list of Leicester record stores

The record label – as a company that published recorded music – is less important now than it has been in the past. This is due mainly to the rise of Internet-mediated sources of music such as iTunes.

The rise of the record labels and their relationship with live music created a constantly changing scene in many parts of the country during the 1950s [Firth, 2010]

BBC Broadcasting house
BBC Broadcasting house

Music and technology

What is clear is that how people gained access to, and listened to, music was dependent on, and was reflected by, the availability of technology, as far as the electrical epoch is concerned. We can therefore divide musical history into periods characterised by the technologies that gave people the music they wanted to hear. Before the invention of, and distribution of, recorded music in the nineteenth century, all music was live. As the availability of electrically-operated music players grew, so various periods of music emerged: the era of the radio, the record player, the television, the personal devise and the growth of the Internet. These all figure in the timeline that I have used to divide my account of Leicester’s musical heritage.

Trevor Locke

An early record player
An early record player


Firth [2010] Firth, Simon, 2010, Journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 1,1

See also:

Previous Article The Music of Today

Us And Them

Sunday 3rd May

The Tetrad Collective

presented Us And Them

at Embrace Arts

Us and Them was a platform for new emerging artists and this was its third night at The Attenborough Arts Centre that presented tasters of new work by local artists.

The evening formed part of the Hand Made festival programme this weekend. See below for a link to a report on the music side of the HMF.

Tetrad is a collective led by artists, dedicated to engaging with the creative discourse of performance practices through the bringing together of local artists, thinkers and citizens.

The collective was founded by four Leicester based artists: Comedian Daniel Nicholas, Performance Artist Jack Britton and Dance Artists Lewys Holt and Katherine Hall (who performed at the UK Young Artists festival in Leicester November 2014). The collective, in partnership with Attenborough Arts Centre, are presenting a series of events throughout 2015 with the aim to foster performance and networking opportunities for emerging artists in the East Midlands.

The third Us and Them event will feature six local artists including De Montfort University student Nicky Daniels, Leicester-based dance artist Fern Chubb, Leicester-based artist Heather Forknell and Leicester based comedian and live artist Lindsey Warnes-Carroll.

Tonight, the audience gathered in the cafe/bar area of the arts centre at the opening of the evening; members of the company illustrated the theme Lost In Translation in this way: a member of the audience was asked to say something which was then communicated from one actor to the next by means of semaphore-type messages. various other actors then passed on the message to the next station until the communication arrived at its end point where the presenter announced what he had heard from the others – not what the audience member had said, presumably, a play on Chinese whispers.)

In the main hall (The Diana Princess of Wales hall), we watched a show that featured the story of an inflatable crocodile called Terrance and a mannequin called Julia.

This was the invention of Daniel Nicholas and told the story of how these unlikely creatures met, formed a relationship and married. It was a sort of soap-opera storyline that involved extra-marital affairs and Terrance touring the country as a Ukulele player and night club entertainer. Amusing, whimsical, satirical, it was party comedy sketch, partly fringe frolics but very funny.

Daniel Nicholas’s Reverb was part of Dave’s Leicester Comedy festival this year where it as nominated ‘best Festival Debut.’

Reverb (the love story of Terrance the crocodile and Julia the mannequin) was billed as ‘a surreal anti-love story, in reverse. Mixing story telling with comedy, draft surrealism was coupled with honest autobiographic discourse’, the programme notes explained. The story explored the highs and lows or a struggling performer and the strains that an obsession of a dream can have on loved ones.

Fern Chubb and Lily Thomas presented their dance sequence Who We Are. The girls’ gymnastic ballet was a visual into which you could read what you like. The choreography suggested a playful meeting of two children with duos and solo sequences reflecting their feelings and reactions to each other. The programme notes said ‘The work is semi-improvised with a set structure and material that we ‘riff’ off in performance.’ It was a performance that was richly poetic.

The evening was a really rewarding event that added something extra to the main festival programme of Hand Made.

We listed this event on our What’s On page; here is the entry:

3rd May

A night for emerging artists

Us and Them at the Attenborough Arts Centre

New performance platform night Us and Them will have it’s third night at Attenborough Arts Centre on Sunday the 3rd May (7pm) presenting tasters of new performance work created by local emerging artists.

Us and Them is brought to you by Tetrad, a collective led by artists, dedicated to engaging with the creative discourse of performance practices through the bringing together of local artists, thinkers and citizens. The collective was founded by four Leicester based artists: Comedian Daniel Nicholas, Performance Artist Jack Britton and Dance Artists Lewys Holt and Katherine Hall (who performed at the UK Young Artists festival in Leicester November 2014). The collective, in partnership with Attenborough Arts Centre, are presenting a series of events throughout 2015 with the aim to foster performance and networking opportunities for emerging artists in the East Midlands.

See also:

Coverage of the Hand Made Festival’s musical offerings on our magazine Music in Leicester

The website for the Tetrad Collective


Saturday 30th August 2014

Leicester has Pride

Gay Pride Leicester 2014

It’s mid-day outside Curve in Orton Square. The drumming of a marching band is echoing around the buildings, whistles are being blown and the air is filled the happy noises of people. The parade of the 2014 Leicester Gay Pride sets off towards Humberstone Gate. At the front of the procession there is a long rainbow flag, being held by twenty or so bearers. In the parade there are balloons, banners, more multi-coloured flags are being waved. Some banners proclaim the groups gathered beneath them; some people are holding placards but it’s not so much a protest, more of a carnival. A band of excited and happy people celebrating their being together.

What is so rewarding, if not joyous, about this event is that is happening and that it is happening here in Leicester. It is an event which celebrates the freedom that this country gives to people to gather together and to celebrate their lives. In a world where so many countries are ruled by tyrants and dictators, gay people are banned from showing their pride, attacked, murdered, imprisoned and denied their rights. But this is Leicester and Gay Pride has been a mark of this city for several years. It is a city that takes pride in its diversity, is happy that its peoples have freedom, that they can live in peace and parade once a year through its streets to show the world that they exist, they are proud of their community and can share that pride with the thousands of people who line the streets to applaud and join with them in their celebration.

The parade snakes its way through the warm sunshine of an August afternoon, arriving in Victoria Park for the main event of the day. Around the park there are stalls, tents offering food, drink and merchandise, a fun fair, rides for the children, and the main stage that offers music and entertainment from mid-day though to 8 pm.

The atmosphere is friendly, peaceful, happy and in party mood. It is a gathering of people of all ages. This is a family-friendly celebration. Parents are there with their kiddies, young people are their with their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. As a crowd there might well be a higher concentration of young people but its like any other crowd of local citizens. There are people from all ethnic backgrounds, the same mix of people and faces that we have seen so often in the public events of this summer.

Dotted around the park are gazebos and stalls offering information about all kinds of things: sports, health, careers, trade unions, t-shirts for sale, jewellery, flags, garlands… pretty much what you would expect to find any open-air event. On stage performers, entertainers, singers, and dancers offers a non-stop programme of free music and dancing.

The theme of this year’s event: One love, one community. LGBT Freedom.

The Pride Flag in 2013
The Pride Flag in 2013

At this year’s gay pride, stars and celebrities. Kieron Richardson, the actor bes known for playing the part of Ste Hay in the TV soap Holyoaks.

Kieron Richardson
Kieron Richardson

The 28 year old star supported the campaign to kick homophobia out of sport. Today he was on stage comparing the acts and posing for selfies with members of the audience. The gay TV celebrity is said to have been inspired to come out by X-factor winner Joe McElderry.

In 2012 we met Kieron’s Hollyoaks co-star PJ Brennan; not able to be here today because he is in New York although he had planned to be here.

PJ Brennan in 2012
PJ Brennan in 2012

In the dance tent, there was a non-stop programme of sounds. The packed tent was filled with mainly young people who where dancing – or what passes for dancing in the twenty-first century. Now, these teenagers know of disco only from television programmes.

Lisa Lashes with film crew
Lisa Lashes with film crew

Headlining the main stage was international DJ Lisa Lashes. One of Leicester’s most internationally renown music artists, Lisa told me that she will be Canada next week, spinning some disks in Edmonton, Calgary  and Vancouver.

Lisa Lashes on stage
Lisa Lashes on stage

It was good to see the star musician at pride this year, here with promoter Jazz,

Lisa Lashes and Jazz
Lisa Lashes and Paul Mitchell

Singers were on the programme, some of them local artists and some who had come down from Manchester, like the three members of Wolf Vocal Band, whose performance of a number of classic songs went down well with the audience.

Wolf Vocal Group back stage
Wolf Vocal Group back stage
Tokyo Taboo
Tokyo Taboo

Tokyo Taboo, a duo of singers from Manchester were there with a set of songs that had the crowd singing and clapping along with the music.

Wolf Vocal Group on stage
Wolf Vocal Group on stage

Three pole dancers displayed their agility. Singer Ryan Joseph was back for another year. DJ Robbie Lewis was on the stage in the run up to Lisa Lashes.

Robbie Lewis on the decks
Robbie Lewis on the decks

Singers were also part of the crowd, including the great jazz singer Carol Leeming and Leicester’s own song-writer John Anthony (he performed at Pride in 2006), plus a few faces that you would recognise from those TV talent shows. Poets, writers, musicians and artists mingled with the throng on Victoria Park.

Miss Penny

No pride event would be complete without its drag queens and their vivacious humour lifted the laughter as they performed on stage: Ms Marty, Miss Penny, May Mac, Tammi Twinkle and the intriguing artist known as Drag With No Name.

Mrs P

Pride is not all sweetness and light; take away the balloons, the flags and the party frocks and you find that the LGBT community is still struggling with its demons. A newspaper handed to me by one of the activists told of the homophobic bullying that is still rife in our schools. Other articles told about homelessness in the young LGBT community being higher than for the community generally. Leicester’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans centre In Wellington Street tackles a range of issues day in day out, providing advice, social support, counselling, a library and a cafe.

As with most cities, Leicester has its complement of pubs, clubs and bars: The Rainbow and Dove, The Dover Castle, Helsinki, Sloanes, Bossa and a smattering of businesses such as hair dressing salons and coffee houses that are gay-friendly. The pink pound plays its part in Leicester’s economy just as it does in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Brighton and across the UK. Hotels and restaurants were keen to offer their services to those coming into the city for the day or the weekend.

Lisa Lashes at Sloanes
Lisa Lashes at Sloanes

Pride is a community event and so here today on the park the same NHS, Police Force, Fire Brigade, Fostering & Adoption, that were there for Caribbean Carnival or The Belgrave Mela. Who makes all this happen? A team of volunteers works throughout the year to put on this one day event and make it the outstanding success that it was.

See also:

Leicesster Pride 2015

Leicester Gay Pride Website

Our page about What’s On in Leicester



13th August 2014

Night of Festivals this weekend

Seventy local community participants are gearing up to join the exciting line up of music,  theatre,  carnival interventions, storytelling, moving image and visual artists that makes up the diverse and colourful Night of Festivals which, following a successful year touring across the UK, is set to land in Leicester this weekend (16th & 17th Aug) to open the City Festival.

The  ArtReach produced event comprises two days of intensive FREE arts activities on Humberstone Gate, Leicester, with extraordinary carnival characters and musicians parading the High St, Granby Street and Humberstone Gate areas throughout both days.

The talented teams from the internationally renowned Mandinga Arts and Paraiso Samba (Europe’s only original Rio samba company) will be joined by local performers who are busy rehearsing routines with carnival costumes inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations and by George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Leicester audiences will meet the huge “Giant Skeleton”, the dancing troupe of “sexy cows”, the delightful cats, mice and LED lit frogs, the golden birds and the scarily voracious pack of dog puppets. Carnival troupes are accompanied by an itinerant band of musicians cycling in a decorated rikshaw!

The weekend is brimming with free activities for all the family. As well as carnival there is a full programme of magical live storytelling from around the globe, with stories in the Festival Yurt every hour from 11am to 5pm each day. The Festival Performance Dome hosts children’s theatre, world music, a capella vocals and exciting opportunities to participate in South African Gumboot Dance workshops and an amazing Drum Circle led by talented South Asian percussionist Sandeep Raval.

Don’t miss also the Haitian voodoo statue and the quirky little moving image gallery, the Nanoplex, hosted in a standard touring caravan!

ArtReach Director, and Night of Festivals Producer, David Hill, said “the team can’t wait to wow Leicester. The Festival offers something for all ages, it’s fun, colourful, noisy….and also a little bit challenging. We aim to celebrate the values of freedom through exciting artistic innovation. Come and find out more.”

The Night of Festivals fun kicks off from 11:00am – 10pm on Saturday 16th and 11:00am – 5:00pm on Sunday 17th August.
To find out more about Night of Festivals, visit the website http://www.nightoffestivals.co.uk where you can view or download the full weekend programme, or visit Twitter: _ArtReach or Facebook: /ArtReachEvents


Saturday 2nd August 2014

Rain failed to dampen spirits

Leicester’s annual Caribbean Carnival parade carried on regardless, despite the rain and crowds gathered along the roadside to watch the dancers and floats.

Lead Dancer, Caribbean Carnival, 2014
Lead Dancer, Caribbean Carnival, 2014

I can see why Radio Leicester was playing Don’t rain on my parade during its coverage of the start of the event, with Tony Wadsworth in the studio and Julie Mayer on Victoria Park. Interviewing carnival chairman Tony Sugar Christopher, Julie commented tat a few spots of rain were starting to come down, as the floats and dancers assembled for the start of the procession. The Bishop of Leicester, The Right Reverend Tim Stevens was there ready to give the procession his blessing, before its scheduled start at 1 pm. Sheltering under a tree, The Mayor, Peter Soulsby, commented on the importance of the event to the life of the city.

Dancers 1

Something must have delayed the start because the front of the procession did not reach the train station in London Road until 2 pm. By the time the few drops of rain had turned into a steady deluge. The last time the Carnival got this wet was in 2009, when we reported:

Heavy rain on Saturday 1st August drenched the dancers and floats of the Caribbean Carnival but failed to deter the crowds from turning out to see the floats and the parade. Armed with umbrellas, people lined the streets to see the procession go past and gathered at Victoria Park for the live shows and stalls. [Arts in Leicestershire Magazine]

Since then, most of the annual August events have benefited from fine weather. The parade made its way into he city centre, eventually arriving back at Victoria Park where there was a show tat included music stages and a variety of stalls and food outlets.

Dancers 7

For the first time this year, an admission fee was charged, on Victoria Park, to help cover some of the costs of putting on the show, which has always been a key part of the day’s events, along with the parade. As Tony Christopher explained in his radio interview, fund needed to meet the cost of the day have been hard to come by and even commercial sponsorships have been difficult to find this year.

Dancers 6

By 3.30pm the rain has stopped and the run had come out but by that time the tail end of the Parade would have been arriving back at Victoria Park after its circular route around the city centre. I spotted over 13 vehicle floats, as the parade went passed, each one with dancers and many with PA systems playing music.

Dancers 5

This was the 29th Carnival and in previous years that we have covered the event, we have reported on its significance for the city of Leicester. It took about 22 minutes for the whole parade to go passed and this year there was no shortage of spectacular costumes and well decorated floats. Groups of girls danced well choreographed routines, as well as mixed groups of male and female dancers.

Dancers 4

Caribbean Carnival has for many years been a multicultural event, whilst still celebrating the colour and vitality of the culture of the Caribbean. Not all cities in the UK are fortunate to have one of these annual fiestas. Carnivals are held each year in Acton, Birmingham, Brixton, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Huddersfield, Leeds, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Notting Hill, Northampton, Nottingham, Reading, Stoke on Trent and other places in England. They take place from May through to August in this country and also in other countries, including of course the Caribbean islands.

Dancers 3

Whatever the weather, the people of Leicester still turn out in large numbers to watch the parade and to attend the Victoria Park show.

Dancers 2

In August 2010 we reported

Now in its 25th year, the Caribbean Carnival was, as always, a great crowd puller. The people of Leicester turned out in their thousands to enjoy this wonderful celebration of culture, music and dance… This was a bumper year for the amazing costumes, huge, brightly coloured structures that must have taken many hours to make. The procession’s theme this year was “Celebrating our Caribbean Heritage” and Float 20 was particularly good. The exotic colours, styles and designs were richly redolent of the Caribbean and conjured up all the the vibrancy and magic of the islands.
The dancing groups included many children, some quite young but all of them keeping in time with the rhythm and clearly enjoying being part of this exciting event. People from all over the UK had come to Leicester to join the parade and a great many of them had spent a great many hours making costumes and learning dance routines. Some of the costumes were so massive, they needed wheeled frames to support them. In fact, it is possible to join costume-making workshops, to learn how these intricate structures are put together and decorated. Costume design is definitely an art-form and many of those seen today demonstrate considerable creativity and imagination. Several floats had banners on them acknowledging the funding sources, such as The Lottery or commercial sponsors. Creating these costumes costs a lot of money and the whole event cost a lot to put on. Carnival organisers have been appealing for donations as they have made a loss this year, given that public finance has been in such short supply.
Carnival is a great asset to Leicester, bringing thousands of people here from all over the country and offering one of the top tourist attractions of the year.
Carnival attracts people of all ages and some of the floats had been organised by youth groups and clubs. This year the weather was kind to carnival with only one brief shower of rain; otherwise the sky was mainly dry.
On Victoria park, there was a plentiful supply of stalls offering tasty Caribbean cuisine and quite a few stalls with cultural crafts and, of course, the main stage where the crowd could enjoy a variety of musical acts and dancers. [Arts in Leicestershire Magazine]

In 2011 we reported

Caribbean Carnival is a key date in Leicester’s events calendar. Each year the whole city looks forward to seeing this colourful and vibrant event. In previous years, the famous procession has wound its way through the centre of the city but this year it was confined to the perimeter of Victoria Park
The cuts had eaten into the festival’s finances. Nothing new about that. Festival organisers have faced big financial pressures in previous years. This year they had to decide between what they could do, with the money available, or no event at all.
Despite the smaller scale, the procession was no less wonderful than it ever has been. The costumes were amazing works of art, the sound system were out in force, albeit static this time and the the crowds still turned out to watch the colourful spectacle, so loved by the people of Leicester. The theme of this year’s parade was ‘myths, folklore and culture’. There were plenty of sound systems around to bring music to the dancers and there was the usual wide selection of food stalls offering Caribbean Cuisine. The weather was kind this year; a brief shower of rain shortly before the start soon gave way to a warm afternoon, cloudy with sunny spells but very comfortable for those who had settled in to enjoy the atmosphere and entertainment on the park. Carnival is the perfect place to be for lovers of Calypso, Reggae, Soca, and Gospel. There was plenty of it, either from the various sound systems, from live bands and on the main stage. Despite its move away from the City Centre to being confined to Victoria Park, about 20,000 turned out to enjoy the fun, according to the BBC.

The show on Victoria Park, this year,  included performances organised by Cyrlene Braithwait, from City Link Up, who told us:

What a day yesterday! The City Link Up Caribbean Carnival Showcase was AMAZING! Every single one of you artists SMASHED IT and gave the Leicester people a show they all thoroughly enjoyed! Big up Dantanna, Teon T Foster, Nuala Bennett-Wilford, Kezia Johnson, Clinarke Dill, James Byron Norval, Jah Marnyah, Tanni Browne, Greyce, MC Mad-X, Bernard Best, D-Soul Okosisi, Merki LabTv Waters, Deevine, Jason Darealfuture Newton thank you all for keeping it professional turning up to sound check and giving your all on stage! I feel blessed and privileged to have met and worked with you all! Your talents and energy are truly AMAZING! Keep up the good work and go get what’s yours! Big up my City Link Up, Deano Presto & Fives Jungle been by my side from DAY 1 nuff love & respect to you!

Watch these videos on You Tube

Citylinkup Carnival MC 5IVE-0, MAD-X, JAH MARNYAH, B BEST

D-Soul and his FULL PERFORMANCE at Leicester Caribbean Carnival. 

See also:

Rent – our review of the new musical at Curve

Street Dance opportunities

Leicester’s black music history celebrated




Summer of festivals

5th June 2014

Music at Riverside Festival

THE CREAM of local music will be taking centre stage at this weekend’s annual Riverside Festival.

The two-day free festival of fun and activities for all ages takes place on Saturday, June 7, and Sunday, June 8, along the River Soar’s Mile Straight and on neighbouring Bede Park, and is one of the city’s biggest free events attracting thousands of visitors.

Musicians from across the city will be performing on the festival’s main stage throughout the weekend, including the winners and runners-up from this year’s Leicester Original Bands Showcase.

Winners electro-pop trio Tapestry and runners-up Beneath the Lights will perform in front of the festival crowds.

Saturday also features soul and Motown headliners Johnny and the Goodtime Boys, who will play from 6pm on the, highly-rated duo Mia and the Moon playing songs from their forthcoming album, and classic blues from Stu Crown and the Bobcats. Students from Gateway College will also perform a rock and pop showcase.

Sunday’s entertainment includes gentle lunchtime jazz from the Speakeasy Jazz Band, samba group Sambando and a World Cup-themed finale including latin grooves from the Tony Webster Band.

The ever-popular Sing for Water charity choir will also perform at 2pm alongside a steel pans performance from pupils of Shaftsbury Junior School.

The Riverside Festival features boat trips on the River Soar, activities for children including fantastic street performers and storytelling, and an eco village which is home to a giant tipi, drumming workshops, environmental-themed activities and carpentry workshops.

There will also be an arts street market, Ride Leicester’s BMX demonstrations, bike fixing sessions and a bike park.

A range of environmental-themed activities will return to nearby Castle Gardens, including a variety art and crafts workshops, woodland skills and a pets corner.

The event is run by Leicester City Council, with festival sponsors housing association Riverside, which is based on Western Boulevard.

Events run from 12noon to 7pm on the Saturday, and from 12noon to 5pm on the Sunday.

For full details visit: http://www.visitleicester.info/riversidefestival

[source: Leicester City Council]

More about local festivals

For latest news and information about music festivals, see Music in Leicester website.

Find out more about music at the Riverside festival from Music in Leicester.

For general information see Go Leicestershire website.