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LEICESTER; CITY BREAK.

Until recently, Leicester's most famous sons were the Attenborough brothers, Gary Lineker, Gok Wan and pop group Kasabian. But now the city can boast a royal connection, following the discovery that a skeleton found under a car park was the much-maligned Richard III. Since then visitor numbers to the Midlands city have soared, with new tours and themed packages making a weekend break here as easy as (pork) pie. Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England, with signs of its Roman heritage still visible in the city centre's Jewry Wall bathhouse remains. Although heavily bombed during the Second World War it still retains its characterful, beamed medieval buildings and cobbled streets. It is also a mix of cultures and ethnicities with a large Asian community reflected in the large number of curry houses - most notably on its "Golden Mile" on Belgrave Road. Your city guide is RAFAELA CORUGEDO...

WHAT'S NEW

The current main attraction, Richard III: Leicester's Search for a King exhibition, opened recently at the timber-framed, 15th-century Guildhall. This attractive display uses a combination of technology and good old-fashioned information screens to explain the excavation and its historical and scientific significance. Free entry, open daily. It will move to a permanent address by the Greyfriars car park next year. www.leicester.gov.uk/museums

WHERE TO SHOP

Leicester's award-winning indoor and outdoor markets centred around the handsome 19th-century grade II-listed Corn Exchange, south of the local landmark Clock Tower, sell everything from organic vegetables, aromatic spices and fish, to new and secondhand clothes, bric-a-brac and flowers. Daily except Sundays. Lovers of hearty traditional British fare will love the local pork pies and Stilton. Walkers & Son, who make the famous crisps, re-open their legendary pork pie shop this month (4-6 Cheapside). The swanky Highcross shopping area includes a four-storey John Lewis, designer brands and highstreet staples all under one roof. It is also home to a range of restaurants, from Ed's Easy Diner to Carluccio's. The Lanes are home to boutiques, designer stores, cool coffee shops and bars.

DON'T MISS

Leicester Food Fortnight each autumn culminates in the East Midlands Food and Drink Festival in nearby Melton Mowbray- famous for its pork pies and Stilton, both with EU protected status.

ON THE CHEAP

Opposite the Guildhall exhibition, the 900-year-old Cathedral with its tall spire - where Richard III's remains will be re-interred next year - has long had a memorial stone marking the last of the Plantagenet dynasty.

GLAM IT UP

Sip a cocktail in the bar at the exotically styled Hotel Maiyango, the city's first boutique hotel. www.maiyango.com. Set among the stylish restaurant area on Bathhouse Lane at Highcross, the Almanack bills itself as a gastro pub. It's a hip space with a retro bar-lounge area and framed album covers lining the walls accompanied by an eclectic soundtrack. Through the floor-toceiling windows the Richard III pub can be seen as you dine on modern British classics including free-range sausage, mash and onion gravy and pan-fried Welsh sea bass.

www.thealmanack-leicester.co.uk

WHERE TO STAY

Leicester has all the main hotel chains plus the odd boutique with country house hotels and more rural offerings within 40 minutes of the city centre. The Travelodge on Highcross Street stands on the site of the Blue Boar Inn, where Richard III spent his last night before the Battle of Bosworth on August 22, 1485. Rooms from PS29.

www.travelodge.co.uk

One-night Stay Play Explore B&B packages for PS109 per couple allow visitors to choose three of a choice of five city-based experiences, from spa treats to an Indian meal to cinema tickets.

Family Fun short breaks offer the same deal but with child-friendly sights such as Bosworth Battlefield and the National Space Centre for the same price for a family of four (two adults, two kids). www.

goleicestershire.com/short-breaks Or treat yourselves to a stay at historic Stapleford Park set in 500 acres of Capability Brown landscaped gardens near Melton Mowbray, doubles from PS180 B&B. www.staplefordpark.com

TRAVEL FILE

GETTING THERE

RAIL: A high-speed East Midlands train service from London St Pancras to Leicester takes around an hour and 20 minutes. East Coast trains also run from London King's Cross to Grantham. www.thetrainline.com

COACH: For details of links and prices visit www.nationalexpress.comoruk.megabus.com

ROAD: Off M1 or M69

DO YOUR RESEARCH Find more information www.visitleicester. info and www.goleicestershire.com

More city guides at mirror.co.uk/travel More city guides at mirror.co.uk/travel

CAPTION(S):

Model of Richard III's face, based on skeleton

Leicester's 2,000-year-old Jewry Wall, built by the Romans,

Highcross centre combines high street and high fashion

The 15th Century timber-framed Guildhall

Melton Mowbray food and drink festival
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:City overview
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 2, 2013
Words:795
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