Leicester isn’t just a city at the heart of England; it’s also a central point for discovering diverse culture, rich history, bustling activity and natural beauty. 
 
As a leading new and used car dealer with sites in Leicester, we know that there are plenty of reasons to be a proud local resident. This is why we’ve compiled this list of 10 Leicester facts that may (or may not) surprise you. How much do you know about your native city?
 

Fact #1: Leicester hosts the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India

Indians account for around 28% of Leicester’s population, but this is still an astonishing fact! Up to 35,000 people attend the switch-on of the Diwali lights on Belgrave Road (pictured below) every year, while even more attend the day-long celebrations. 
 
This year, the Diwali ‘Festival of Light’ will include a variety of events and activities to bring the Leicester community together, such as food markets, live music and dancing, Bollywood film viewings and parades through the city streets. 
 
 
leicester - diwali
 

Fact #2: Leicester is the 10th largest city in the UK

Leicester has a total population of around 330,000, beating close East Midlands neighbours Nottingham and Derby. It’s even larger than Newcastle! In the last decade Leicester’s population has risen dramatically due to immigration of other ethnic groups, but this has given the city a diverse culture and unique mix of communities – demonstrated by the Diwali celebrations mentioned above! 
 
leicester - map
 

Fact #3: Leicester was the birthplace of local radio 

With major cities like London being such an influence on UK radio, it might come as a surprise that Leicester was the first city to have a local radio station. The first broadcast from BBC Radio Leicester was back in 1967. It included the first local radio jingle, followed by the Lord Mayor of Leicester as a guest.  
 
leicester - bbc - radio

Fact #4: Leicester invented the package holiday

Most people around the world will know of or have booked a holiday with Thomas Cook. And the man behind the household name of holiday companies was born in Leicester. Thomas Cook organised the first ever package holiday way back in 1841…to Loughborough! His statue (pictured below) can be found in the city centre to remind us of how he revolutionised the way we holiday.  
 
leicester - thomas cook
 

Fact #5: Leicester is thought to have more traffic lights than any other UK city

This isn’t a fact to be proud of if you have to sit in rush-hour queues every day – but it depends how you look at it! Leicester is apparently a very safety-conscious city on the roads, as it was also the first UK city to have traffic lights and traffic wardens.  
 
leicester - traffic lights
 

Fact #6: Leicester is home to Europe’s largest outdoor, covered market

Located south of Leicester centre’s iconic Clock Tower, our famous market holds numerous events throughout the year and is open six days a week. Browse over 300 stalls without being exposed to the great British weather. 
 
leicester - market
 

Fact #7: Leicester is the birthplace of modern standard English

This fact proves that Leicester has made its presence felt across the world! Experts have concluded that the modern English language, spoken by over 1 billion people, originated in Leicester. It was first developed as a way for Anglo-Saxons and Vikings to communicate with each other. 
 
leicester - english language
 

Fact #8: Leicester is one of the UK’s oldest cities

Leicester’s history stretches back over 2,000 years, hence why it’s the originator of the standard English language. Romans came across an Iron Age settlement in Leicester from around 1st or 2nd century BC. 
 
If you want to explore more of Leicester’s Iron Age history, you could visit Burrough on the Hill in Leicestershire. The 7 mile hillfort has wonderful views over the surrounding countryside and dates back to around 100 BC. 
leicester - roman ruins
 

Fact #9: Leicester hosts the UK’s biggest comedy festival

No, it’s not the Edinburgh Fringe – Leicester Comedy Festival is the largest (and longest-running) comedy event in Britain. This year it boasted 640 gigs across 47 venues, over 19 days. The Guardian has even dubbed it as “one of the best comedy festivals in the world”. 
 
leicester - comedy festival
 

Fact #10: Leicester is home to Walker’s Crisps

Thanks to Leicester-born butcher Henry Walker, we now have one of the world’s most recognised and delicious crisp brands. The story of the crisp-making giant began in 1948 in Henry Walker’s butcher plant, where he and his workers began making crisps due to a shortage of meat in post-war Britain. Fast-forward around 60 years and Walker’s now holds 56% of the UK crisp market! 
 
leicester - walkers crisps