They say a picture is worth a thousand words and, at a time when Instagram rules the world, it’s as relevant as ever! Instagram provides a wealth of inspiration for places to visit in just a few clicks and a gateway to new destinations. We’ve rounded up some of the most popular hot spots in Leicester and Leicestershire frequented by Instagrammers though there’s many more to discover on your own in the place where tourism began!
Leicester’s city streets are a canvas for world renowned artists from America, Australia, Tahiti, Mexico, Germany, France, Greece and throughout the UK. Thanks to the award-winning biennial Bring the Paint Festival, the streets of Leicester have been transformed into a colourful collection of murals attracting thousands of annual visitors to the city. The artwork can be found at various locations in the city with one of the most snapped pieces created by Smug, aka Sam Bates, in his unique photo realism style of a friend based on a pic from his phone. This fantastic piece of artwork is right in the heart of St George’s Cultural Quarter making it the perfect place to spark your creativity and begin your Instagram portfolio.
On the south-east side of Charnwood Forest is medieval deer park Bradgate Park. At its highest point is the eye-catching Old John Tower, a grade II listed, two-storey, gothic tower. Fondly referred to as the ‘icon of Leicestershire’. If a photo with Old John isn’t enough then get your camera ready for a chance to snap a royal. Bradgate House, which now lies in ruins, was the birthplace of England’s forgotten queen Lady Jane Grey. Legend has it that on New Year’s Eve a ghostly coach leaves the ruins of her former home and travels to nearby All Saints Church only to vanish as Lady Grey climbs out of the coach.
One of the successful millennium projects that has stood the test of time to become a Leicester icon, the National Space Centre opened its door in 2001. Boasting six interactive galleries, the UK’s largest planetarium, a unique 3D SIM ride and iconic 42m Rocket Tower, the building itself is out of this world both inside and out. The distinctive exhibition combined with educational resources covering the fields of space science and astronomy provides an ‘out of this world’ experience for visitors of all ages. Situated on the River Soar and alongside Abbey Pumping Station, Leicester’s heritage museum of science and technology, there’s no end of backdrops for your Instagram shot.
It’s only worth Instagramming if it’s unique and something that’s going to grab your attention, and that’s certainly the case at Stoneywell Cottage. This magical cottage, one of the best examples from the Arts and Crafts movement, was designed by influential British designer and architect Ernest Gimson and was Leicestershire’s first National Trust house. This building is Leicestershire through and through, since Ernest believed in using only local materials in its construction. Located in Ulverscroft, and only accessible by foot, it lies in the centre of the Charnwood Forest, nestled into the landscape and surrounded by magnificent trees, nature and wildlife. Imagine what a breath-taking Instagram picture that could be!
Orton Square is the perfect spot to get a 360-degree view of Leicester’s mixed character of architectural distinctiveness all in one place. Named after the late playwright Joe Orton famous for his scandalous black comedies, the square is surrounded by theatre, art galleries, restaurants, bars and a cluster of thriving creative businesses. Start with the award-winning Curve theatre’s modern design by Rafael Vinoly Architects, move on to a converted four story Victorian warehouse, then take in the Art Deco Athena venue, continue to turn to the right for another Grade II listed Victorian building currently home to the Queen Victoria Arts Club restaurant, and complete your twirl with the narrow ‘flat-iron’ end of the Exchange Building reminiscent of New York’s Flatiron Building. Since it’s designated for pedestrians only, you’re guaranteed to get uninterrupted views to take the perfect snap or selfie!
One of the true landmarks of the UK’s inland waterways, Foxton locks has the largest flight of staircase locks on the English canal system. Completed in 1814, this amazing feat of engineering lifted the canal 75ft from the ‘Old Union’ Canal to the Leicester Summit of what was originally called the Grand Union Canal. The remains of the inclined plane, a magnificent, if slightly weird, piece of Victorian engineering uses two counterbalancing tanks, each of which would take a barge or two narrowboats. The Canal Museum at the Boilerhouse brings to life what is was like to live and breathe the canals in the 19th Century and there's also the Foxton Discovery virtual reality app allowing you to see the boat lift magically in front of your very eyes.
New Walk is a rare and wonderful example of a Georgian pedestrian promenade originally leading to a racecourse which in 1882 was transformed into Victoria Park, one of Leicester’s busiest parks and host to several annual events such as the Caribbean Carnival and Remembrance Sunday. This calm, tree lined promenade is almost a mile long with plenty of photo backdrops or just find a bench to watch the world go by and escape from the city centre bustle. It’s also where New Walk Museum is located, one of the first council-run museums to be established in the United Kingdom opening in 1849 and the place Sir David Attenborough said had a profound effect on his career because of regularly visiting the museum as a child.
There’s no end of photos of dogs, cats and crazy exotic pets on Instagram so why not be different and visit the only zoo in the UK where you can see all types of great ape – gorilla, orangutan, chimpanzee and bonobo. Twycross Zoo is perfect for that one of a kind photo with around 500 animals of 125 species plus hundreds of creepy crawlies too. You’ll also see two of their newest residents, critically endangered Sumatran tigers Jahly and Sialang. Of course, there’s all the favourites like snow leopards, giraffes, zebras, meerkats and more! Always remember to show respect for nature and be careful with your selfies.
Get the most out of your time in the city and county by checking out all the things to see and do on Visit Leicester.
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