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Case Study

An Unexpected Nocturnal Cultural Experience with The Leicester Midnight Run

On 25 and 26 March 2022, The Midnight Run came to Leicester for the first time to celebrate the city’s nocturnal life in a cultural exploration of iconic sites and lesser known streets and nooks of the city centre.

The Midnight Run by Fuel Theatre is an arts-filled, walking, night-time cultural journey through urban spaces which aims to encourage local participants to talk, walk, share, play and connect with each other and engage with artists by taking part in cross-artform workshops along the way.

In Leicester, the event brought together local Leicester-based as well as European artists – including LIBERTY EU portfolio artists Sándor Márkus and LiIi Stern – to collaborate in creative workshops and engage the participants in poetry, painting, movement and more!

We asked one of the participants, Maya Harding, to share her experience of The Midnight Run with us. Maya is a Leicester-based interactive visual artist, collaborator, group leader and facilitator with over 15 years’ experience of delivering workshops and community programmes – working with a diverse range of children and young people in the UK and internationally – who also loves to travel and is always open to new experiences.

Maya took part in The Midnight Run on the first of the two evenings, exploring Leicester together with other participants – the Midnight Runners – and artists:

“I approached The Midnight Run open and eager with enthusiasm. ‘Expect the unexpected’ I thought to myself. Dive into the unknown. And it didn’t disappoint my expectations – it certainly was innovative!

First of all, I was happy to know there was no running involved. Walking at an easy pace, getting to know fellow Midnight Runners on the way, chatting and making friends – after all we did spend 6 hours in each other’s company!

Even though some activities we did were out of my comfort zone, I enjoyed that it pushed my creative boundaries and challenged me. From interacting with the swans on the canal against the backdrop of the university art building, to dancing wildly and freely in the cathedral gardens amongst the gravestones, being silly playing childhood school playground games at the Town Hall fountain to an immersive interactive art installation… that’s far from my normal Friday night out and not what I expected at all.

Familiar places with unfamiliar and unexpected routes around the city that are off the beaten track. Seeing my city with a new eye.

Collaboration and connection are words that spring to mind. I felt refreshed and creative and full of ideas by the end of the evening. With new friends to boot! After a long time in Leicester lockdown, it was very moving to be with a group of strangers, doing something special together.

If you get a chance, get your trainers on (and scarf, hat and gloves) and join in.

I myself am on the lookout for more Midnight Runs in other cities that I can explore!”