Clarry the Cat at the ArtBeat 2015 launch party

2 weeks to go

Michelle Dhillon of Rockhaq at the ArtBeat 2015 launchOnly two weeks to go now to the launch of ArtBeat 2015. As the bard once said “summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets”.

The launch promises to be a lot of fun. Music, singing, dancing, busking, balloons, children performing, an appearance from Clarry the Cat, an ode and a speech, food and drink from local retailers and hopefully, like last year, sunshine. And all this infused with a hefty injection of community spirit.

This year we will not be graced by a visit from King Richard III as we were last. Since then of course he has found his resting place in Leicester Cathedral, as some of you may have become aware!

I know we Brits tend to obsess about the weather. But since early summer first made its shy presence felt this week, there has been a definite lift in mood in the area. The sound of flip flops and flatties can be heard on the pavements, as people in shorts, t-shirts and frocks (not all at the same time) stroll down Queens Road, Others stretch out in Victoria Park, and the red-bricked buildings take on an altogether brighter hue.

Meanwhile festival programmes have been pushed through letter boxes and more will be handed out on the streets over the coming two Saturdays.

So put the date in your diaries for the launch: 5pm on Friday 19th June at the Christchurch car park, Clarendon Park Road. See you there.

Summer Sandals

Glorious June

So June arrived on Monday and its wake the wind and the rain. But the forecast is bright and sunny just in time for ArtBeat. Only three weeks to go and we are all very excited.

Over the coming period until the launch on Friday 19th June, I will be using the blog to alert you to news, observations and conversations about the festival. Innovation and change are the drivers of the arts and the watchwords of creativity. And this in a city whose motto is “semper eadem” – “always the same”. Things don’t stand still with ArtBeat.

New people have come on board and that means new ideas and energy. For example, ArtBeat 2015 will see a wider range of activities and events for children and young people. And poetry as well as music in the streets.

Once the festival gets under way there will be a report on what happens on each of the five days. Of course, I will only be able to savour the events and activities to give a flavour of what is going on. No-one can be in more than one place at a time.

But if the gods look kindly on us as they did last year, the coming days will be bright and sunny and ArtBeat will give the summer the lift-off it needs.

Dancing at ArtBeat 2015

ArtBeat 2015 Dance Events

Dancing at ArtBeat 2015Once again, we will be offering great opportunities for people of all ages to get up, face the music, and dance. You could also be lucky enough to catch some inspiring performances.

We are enlisting the help of local dance enthusiasts and teachers to teach some easy steps, and also to showcase what they can do. We will be aiming to repeat the successful formats of last year which delivered friendly and fun learning sessions – and we are going one step further by offering  a dance night.

Tea Dance

An enjoyable trip down memory lane and a sociable afternoon will be hosted at South Lodge. Waltz, quickstep, and other old favourites on offer. A repeat of a successful event last year.


New for this year, a session where dance and fitness are combined. Local Zumba teacher Carol Askew is offering you a chance to come for a taster session with simple steps and easy moves to great music.

Jewish Circle and Folk Dancing

Back by popular demand, Leon Chariker will be leading another session. It’s fun, sociable and easy!

ArtBeat 2014 Bollywood danceTraditional Indian Dance

Nimisha Parma will start her session by showcasing her current students in performance and will then teach some traditional steps, moves and hand gestures.

Latin Dance Taster Classes

In response to requests for Latin dance, we have arranged some free taster lessons in Ceroc and Tango. These will be given by local expert dance teachers who will get you dancing in no time. An opportunity not to be missed, especially as you will be able to dance straight away at the Latin Dance night the following evening.


We are putting on a social dance night with both Latin and rock/jive (Ceroc) beats right on your doorstep at Cultura on Queens Rd. Beginners, enthusiasts and onlookers all welcome. Look out for more details in our programme and posters.

To find out more about these events check out the Festival Programme. There you will see a day-by-day calendar with dates, times, venues and, where appropriate, booking arrangements.

Simpletones at the ArtBeat 2015 launch party

ArtBeat 2015 Music Events

The Lonesome Pines busking at ArtBeat 2015Busking and Open Mic

A ‘stand out’ moment from last year’s ArtBeat was hearing ukelele buskers Matt and his cousin playing ‘Love Me Do’ outside the retro-styled hairdresser of the same name. Busking makes you feel happy, so we’re planning more of it, both on the weekend prior to ArtBeat (12th – 13th June) and the ArtBeat weekend itself (19th – 21st June).

There’ll be more local talent at the Open Mic event on Monday 22nd June at Dos Hermanos.

If you’d like to perform at the Open Mic night or busk on the street during the festival, please use our online booking system to grab a slot.

Greenshoots Ceilidh Orchestra at the Queens Road Allotments, ArtBeat 2015Folk and Rock Music

Folk music fans will be pleased to know that musicians from the Cohaltas and Red Fox groups will play a lively set of English and Irish tunes on Monday 22nd. Find them under the tree at the junction of West and North Avenue or in The Clarendon pub if the weather demands.

Local treasure Chris Conway will be performing alongside Mo Coulson’s Celtic harp to make the sweetest music at Fingerprints café on Friday 19th June. ArtBeat celebrates local jazz musician talent when three bands perform on Sunday 21st at The Donkey from 8pm.

Rock fans can get their fix on Monday 22nd at The Craddock where Strange Blues will be among the performers.

Musical Drama

The Leicester premiere of musical theatre’s The Last Wolf in England will be held at Lancaster School’s Drama Studio on Tuesday 22nd. A bawdy tragi-comedy, the production features the celebrated Tyrsby Players and looks at the excesses of the Tudor court from the point of view of Lady Jane Grey’s family.

Family Day

There will be a family feel to a day of workshops at Friends Meeting House on Saturday 20th. Come along for a day of Egyptian drumming, fairy-story-writing, photography and all kinds of art. There will also be two family ceilidhs during the day. Look out for ticket-booking details for some of the workshops closer to the date. Children must be accompanied by an adult throughout these events.

University of Leicester MusiciansClassical and Choral Music

Classical and choral music haven’t been forgotten. Voices United with MC Willow Songsmith is revisited on Friday 19th at St John’s Church.

Christchurch will also host classical events. Paul Jenkins is organising an afternoon music fest with the Knighton Chamber Orchestra and Tudor choir on Sunday 21st, and a Leicester University musicians’ lunchtime recital featuring piano, cello and voices on Monday 22nd. Mariko will perform on her piano at lunchtime on Saturday 20th alongside some special musician friends and will be followed by a classical Open Mic – bring your instrument and entertain your neighbours!

Finally, the Griffin Singers are planning an affiliated event on the evening of Saturday 20th at Stoneygate Baptist Church. They promise choral favourites old and new, interspersed with some humorous interludes.

Whatever your tastes, the sound of music is definitely on its way to a street near you. Find out more about music events, times and venues on our festival programme.

For further information about all these events check out the festival programme. There you will see a day-by-day calendar with dates, times, venues and, where appropriate, booking arrangements.

Woodland art at ArtBeat 2015

ArtBeat 2015 Other Events

As well as all the music, dance and literature events during the festival, there are many other events and exciting activities to join.

Painting at ArtBeat 2015Families

There’s something magical about seeing a photo you’ve taken appear in front of your eyes as you develop it. Look out for the Pinholes and Portraits drop-in event at the Friends Meeting House on Saturday 20th June. Explore analogue photography, learn darkroom skills and create your own pinhole camera with Leicester Lo-Fi Photography

Before you go, why not have your portrait taken with the Kamra-e-Faoree? Also known as an Afghan box camera, this incredible machine is a camera and darkroom in one tidy box.

Do you like writing and drawing on walls? Well, now’s your chance! Come and make your mark on a gigantic chalkboard in the Clarendon Park Community Garden on Sunday 21st June. There will be lots of bright chalks for you to use. If you want to change your creation, just wash it off and start again!

No equipment required and all ages are welcome, however children must be accompanied by an adult.

Be sure to book ahead for our woodland sculpture-making event on Monday 22nd June. Create a fantastic sculpture out of fallen leaves, twigs and other objects you can find while foraging through 5 acres of natural woodland. There are only 25 places, including the adults! It’s a great opportunity to explore the Arboretum. Jenny Mattingly, from Leicester Botanic Gardens will be leading the fun. Don’t forget to take a picture of your creation before you return it to its natural home.

Richard Gill's Clarendon Park architecture walkArchitecture

Architecture fans who wander through the streets looking up and at the buildings have a treat in store on Saturday 20th June. Richard Gill will lead an hour-long walking tour of local notable buildings including Ernest Gimson’s White House on North Avenue. Definitely not to be missed.

Open Gardens and Art

There’s a hidden and magical place in Clarendon Park that not many people know: the Queens Road allotments. Take a wander along the paths of these historical allotments, see the gardens as they are now and find out about some of the stories from the past. 

And as well as local allotmenters being on hand to talk to you, show you plots etc, there will also be an opportunity to view the especially commissioned print of the allotments by well-known local print maker Sarah Kirby

Queens Road AllotmentsThe allotments will be open on Sunday 21st June 2-5pm.

Another Art opportunity is offered to the resident of Melbourne Home on Friday 19th June. “Painting Postcards” is open to resident with or without experience of painting, and is organised by Learning for the Fourth Age. Clare Miles, is co-ordinating this activity.

Quiz Time!

For those of you who like quizzes, we will be running our first pub book quiz on Tuesday evening. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a whizz at the quiz or want to form a team with your friends and join in the fun, why not come along?  There will be prizes! 

For further information about all these events check out the Festival Programme. There you will see a day-by-day calendar with dates, times, venues and, where appropriate, booking arrangements.

Leicester Chinese Christian Church

ArtBeat 2015 Faith Groups

As during last year’s festival, a number of faith groups who meet in Clarendon Park, are getting involved with ArtBeat 2015, either by offering their venues for various events or by hosting particular events themselves.

Check the programme for details and make the most of opportunities to share, learn and have fun with a rich mix of offerings!  Many thanks, from the ArtBeat team, to all those taking part again this year.

For further information about all these events check out the Festival Programme. There you will see a day-by-day calendar with dates, times, venues and, where appropriate, booking arrangements.