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Leicester, county town of Leicestershire, is a modern commercial and industrial center with a long history. It is situated on the River Soar in a region of great scenic attraction. Its traditional industries - hosiery, knitwear and shoe manufacture - have been supplemented in recent years by engineering. It has a variety of churches and other old buildings of many different periods, mostly built in red brick. Cultural interests are well catered to by its museums and art galleries, theaters and a large concert hall.
Leicester can claim to be the birthplace of modern mass tourism - if the medieval pilgrimages are excluded - since it was here that Thomas Cook organized his first package tour in 1841, a round trip of 30mi/48km to Loughborough. Thomas Cook travel company is today one of the best known international tour operators.
Travel to Leicester by air. Find out about the airports serving Leicester, the flights to East Midlands Nottingham airport
Leicester City Centre is served by two main terminii for local bus and coach services: St Margaret's Bus Station in Gravel Street, and the Charles Street terminus. The Haymarket Bus stops also catering for local services.
Leicester enjoys a good local bus service, with most parts of the city being easily accessible by buses, most of which run frequently. In the centre of the city there are electronic departure boards in the streets, showing when the next available bus will be for destinations and the stop that it leaves from.
Many bus stops have electronic signs showing the number of minutes to the next available bus.
Leicester is easy to get to by train. Midland Mainline runs frequent train services to and from London St Pancreas. The main railway terminal for Leicester is London Road Station.
National Space Centre
The National Space Centre overlooks the River Soar and officially opened in the summer of 2001, costing in excess of £50 million to build. The main highlights here include displays explaining the history of the universe and the solar system, together with the achievements of space exploration and travel. Also at the National Space Centre is the biggest planetarium in the United Kingdom (the Space Theatre), the actual Lander Operations Control Centre (LOCC) for the Beagle 2 Mars spacecraft, and the only Soyuz spacecraft existing in Western Europe. Those with a real fascination about the universe should be sure to pay a visit to the Space Now area, where you can check on the current status of real-life space missions. If you are in need of refreshment, then the Boosters cafe is on hand and comes complete with giant rocket boosters. Many special events have taken place here since its opening, including both Doctor Who and Star Wars days.
Leicester tourist attraction open: Tuesday to Friday - 10:00 to 16:00, Saturday and Sunday - 10:00 to 17:00; school holidays, daily - 10:00 to 17:00
Leicester tourist attraction admission: charge, discounts for children under 16 years old, students and families (two adults and up to three children), children under five years old are free
North of Bradgate extends Charnwood Forest once densely wooded, now open heathland. It is excellent walking country consisting of cliffs and rugged landscapes and is dominated by Bardon Hill (912ft/278m) with good views as far as Derbyshire and the Welsh Marshes. In the past wood from Charnwood was used in the mining of brown coal, the granite quarries of Mountsorrel were worked as far back as in Norman times.
In Silver Street stands the Guildhall, a 14th century half-timbered building, which in the Middle Ages belonged to the Corpus Christi guild. During the 15-16th centuries the guildhall was rebuilt in Tudor style; since the 17th century it has been a town hall.
Situated off the Abbey Park Road and offering an array of family based attractions, Abbey Park is a spacious parkland with playground areas for children, sports fields and tennis courts, a boating lake, a miniature railway, a paddling pool, an oriental Chinese garden, and a pets corner with friendly animals. The landscaped gardens provide plenty of seasonal colour and sensory interest, although many come here specifically to check out the 12th-century ruins of Leicester Abbey and Cavendish House. Abbey Park is owned and maintained by the City Council and regularly wins the Green Flag award for overall excellence.
The Golden Mile is the popular title for a long section of Belgrave Road, which earned it name in the sixties due to its high concentration of shops selling gold jewellery. Located approximately 1.5 km / 1 mile to the north of Leicester city centre, the Golden Mile of today is known for its wealth of restaurants specialising in Indian cuisine, as well as numerous sari shops and similar Indian-themed attractions. In December, the Belgrave area is filled with seasonal lighting, which celebrates both Christmas and the Hindi Diwali festival.
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