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27 July 2023

We defied the weather at Journeys Festival International 2023

On the weekend of 22 and 23 July, we started the summer holidays in Leicester with our 11th edition of Journeys Festival International, celebrating diversity and exploring migration with world-class performances of national and international artist.

Delivering an outdoor festival in the UK, the weather can often thwart well-made plans, and with wet weather predictions for the first of our festival days, we decided to bring parts of our programme indoors, with the fantastic support of Highcross Shopping Centre. We were incredible happy and relieved to have been able to still share some of the amazing performances that made their way to Leicester for the festival.

With the weather being more gracious on the Sunday, we were very lucky to have been able to showcase our brilliant programme as planned. Intriguing roaming performances, dance, acrobatics, giant swings, and urban safaris made their way through the city centre, bringing the areas around the Clock Tower, High Street, Jubilee Square, Green Dragon Square and St Peter’s Square to life. Thanks to Highcross for letting us use the indoor space once again on the Sunday for two of our performances.

It’s been a successful festival weekend, especially being able to deliver the full festival programme on the Sunday. When starting our festival activities with the giant puppet Eko from Out of the Deep Blue walking through the streets of Leicester, the sun came out to welcome Eko home amongst other national and international guests.

Tom Cleaver of Mr Cleavers Monsters, the designer who created Eko in Leicester, says:

“I was overjoyed when I heard that Art Reach had invited Eko back to his hometown. He was my lockdown-child, built when the city was going through a difficult time, and sent off into the world to fend for himself. Like any parent, I was worried how he’d turn out.

Well, it turns out Autin Dance Theatre have raised him incredibly well. I handed over a puppet, an assemblage of mechanical moving parts, and Autin have brought back a fully-realised character capable of creating joy, laughter and great emotion. A big thank you to Art Reach and to Autin Dance Theatre. I was so pleased that the city got to see it’s tallest son and even more pleased that my own parents finally got to meet their massive grandchild.”

Including Autin Dance Theatre, we were able to welcome 15 fantastic companies from the UK and abroad who made our festival weekend special.

We want to thank everyone involved in our festival for bringing audiences together in Leicester’s city centre to experience world-class art on every corner. Thanks so much to our fantastic artists for their amazing performances, and our evaluation team and volunteers on the ground!

Thanks to our funders Arts Council England and Leicester City Council for helping us make the festival a reality. Big thanks to the team at DAT Events for their hard work and to Highcross Leicester for their support.

It’s been an incredible weekend through our joint effort, showing resilience despite the rainy weather and delivering a brilliant programme.

And finally, thanks so much to our audiences for joining us on the journey!

We can’t wait to return with our brand-new Re/action Festival on 26 and 27 August, so keep your eyes out on our social media channels and our website for more information.

A giant puppet in front of Leicester's Clock Tower.

Image: Pete Martin Photography

Two performers throwing another performer into the air on an indoor dance stage, surrounded by audiences.

Image: Guy Walsh Photography

Performers dancing next to a scaffolding structure on an outdoor square, with audiences around watching them.

Image: Pete Martin Photography

A group of performers shaking hands with audiences members on an outdoor square.

Image: Guy Walsh Photography