A TWO-day free festival of music, arts and activities for all ages is taking place on the banks of the River Soar next weekend.

This summer’s annual Riverside Festival takes place on Saturday, June 4, and Sunday June 5, at Bede Park, the Mile Straight of the River Soar, Western Boulevard and Castle Gardens. The event is the city’s biggest free festival, combining live entertainment, activities for all ages and a dazzling array of arts and crafts and community stalls, demonstrations and attractions. Activities will take place on the river itself, including a floating tea shop, coracle boats, canoe handling sessions and demonstrations by Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s water rescue team.

BoatsAt Bede Park, attractions will include a giant activity-packed tipi, Riverside Café, table tennis facilities and a children’s fun zone with funfair, storytelling, face-painting and more. BBC Radio Leicester will also be broadcasting live from the festival at Bede Park all weekend. Western Boulevard will host an arts street market, an Eco Area featuring environmental stalls and activities, world food and a Ride Leicester hub featuring a range of cycling-related attractions.

Castle Gardens will also be hosting a range of arts and crafts activities, or visitors can simply take a relaxing stroll through the picturesque waterside gardens just a stone’s throw from Leicester Castle. Once again, local musicians and bands will be among the highlights of the festival, with the main stage at Bede Park featuring the best local talent. Performers on Saturday will include The Moderators, Most Ugly Child, James Cull, Jessie Wright, Tim Baker and the Gateway College Showcase, along with winners of this year’s Original Bands Showcase.

Sunday’s bill includes The Drugstore Cowboys, Sing for Water and the DMU Music Collective. Festival activities take place from 12noon to 7pm on the Saturday, and 12noon to 5pm on the Sunday. The festival is run by Leicester City Council, with housing association Riverside as its main sponsor.

Leicester Assistant City Mayor for culture, heritage, leisure and sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “The River Soar, Bede Park and Castle Gardens form a real haven just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre, and are the perfect setting for this wonderful annual festival. “Every year the Riverside Festival proves to be a popular, family-friendly event, and this year’s events look set to continue that success.”

Sponsor Riverside’s interim director Stephen Elliot added: “After being involved in the festival for 11 years, it’s a firm favourite on the Riverside calendar, and we’re proud to be sponsor for one of Leicester’s largest free festivals.  “We’ll be pleased to meet festival visitors at our village marquee on Bede Park on Saturday, and we invite hundreds of tenants and residents from all over Leicestershire. As well as engaging with our tenants, we’re able to do some fundraising with the public for charity.”

Full printed programmes are now available from outlets including the Visit Leicester Centre in Gallowtree Gate, and on line at: www.visitleicester.info/riversidefestival

The River Soar, Bede Park and Castle Gardens form a real haven just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre, and are the perfect setting for this wonderful annual festival

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