Leicester gets set for a dazzling Diwali

Published on 22 September 2017

LEICESTER’s famous Diwali lights will be lighting up the city’s Golden Mile from Sunday October 8th this year, heralding the start of two weeks of festivities.

The Wheel of Light and Diwali Village will make a welcome return to the light switch-on event, which is expected to draw crowds of around 40,000 people from all over the UK and beyond.

Leicester’s asst mayor for culture Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “Even though we have been holding Diwali celebrations in Leicester for many years, there is still a huge sense of anticipation and excitement in the city as the nights draw in and the Festival of Light approaches.

“I am pleased to say we will be welcoming back the Diwali village and the Wheel of Light which were so popular last year, and we have spectacular aerial fireworks promised for both the switch-on and Diwali day events."

The celebrations begin at 3pm with the opening of the Diwali village on Cossington Street Recreation Ground. Now in its second year, the Diwali village will offer fun-fair rides, a wide range of stalls, and entertainment including fire-eaters and circus skills acts, until it closes at 9pm.

The village will host its own stage, where artists will include Akademi – One of the UK’s leading producers of South Asian dance –who will put a modern spin on traditional Kathak dance in their performances of Sufi:Zen.

Also on stage will be An Indian Summer’s presentation of The Story of Light, performed by Metro-Boulot-Dodo and Nupur Arts. This promises to be a breath-taking, contemporary performance telling the magical story of light over darkness.

The stage programme on Belgrave Road will begin at 5.30pm, and will include a vibrant programme of music and dance presented by the Leicester Hindu Festival Council and supported by Curve theatre.

Leicester’s famous display of 6,000 Diwali lights will be switched on at 7.30pm, followed by a spectacular firework display, which can be viewed from the Belgrave Road. The area will also host roaming street artists, and a second big screen for viewing the light switch-on ceremony higher up Belgrave Road.

Visitors will be able to pop in to the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre from 3pm to see the annual Mela Rangoli exhibition. Created by a number of artists including Janak Chauhan from India, the colourful display will reflect tradition and folklore unique to different areas of India.

This year’s Diwali Leicester festival is being sponsored by St James’s House, one of Europe’s leading custom publishers and media houses. Its Chief Executive Officer and founder, Richard Freed said: “Unity through diversity is at the heart of everything we do at St James’s House Media. Multiculturalism, open-mindedness and a life-affirming approach is our philosophy for business and life." 

Cllr Clair said: “I would like to thank St James’s House for supporting our Diwali festival. They have helped us to ensure that many thousands of people can enjoy one of the biggest Diwali celebrations to take place outside India.”

St James’s House will have a stand in the Diwali village, where chefs will be cooking up recipes from the RAF 100 cookbook, which features 100 recipes,from 100 countries, marking 100 years of the RAF.

Other events taking place as part of the festival include the Diwali Mela Bazaar on Humberstone Gate on Saturday October 14, which will offer stalls selling Indian sweets, Asian fashion, jewellery and South Asian food, as well as live stage entertainment from the Sabras roadshow.

Belgrave Road will be the focus once again for Leicester’s Diwali Day celebrations on Thursday October 19, when the Diwali village will return to Cossington Street Recreation Ground from 3pm, along with entertainment on stage from 6pm.

Fireworks will round off the celebrations, with an aerial display display combining the latest computer-designed pyrotechnics with traditional techniques to produce layers of spectacular colour and sound, exploding hundreds of feet above the Belgrave Road.

The Wheel of Light, a 110-foot ferris wheel which provides a glittering centrepiece to the festivities, will be on the Belgrave Road from Friday October 6 to Sunday November 5.

A full programme of events is available at visitleicester.info