From sci-fi movies to ancient rocks

British breaks: Leicestershire - Great days out in a diverse county
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The Independent Travel

What's on

Watch opera in the open air. In rolling parkland in south Leicestershire, Kilworth House Theatre ( presents exuberant outdoor performances of the Opera Show from 2-13 September.

Taste cheeses, chutneys, beers and more at the East Midlands Food and Drink Festival (eastmidlandsfood on 4 and 5 September. Set in Melton Mowbray, the event includes opportunities to sample pork pies as well as somewhat less traditional bison and ostrich.

Meet Darth Vader, Captain Jack Sparrow, Batman and others at the National Space Centre ( in Leicester on 26 and 27 September. More than 100 costume characters will be present at a sci-fi movie weekend here that will include a special walkthrough movie exhibition.

See some of the best of British sculptures at the Harold Martin Botanic Garden at the University of Leicester ( Until 27 September a Celebration of British Sculpture takes place around the landscaped grounds and features 50 works in varying media.

See the sights

Look out for buzzards circling over craggy hills on the new Charnwood Peaks Walk in the rugged Charnwood Forest of north-west Leicestershire ( The 15-mile hike starts at Bradgate Park and takes you up four peaks. Along the way you'll pass historic deer parks, see some of the oldest rocks in Britain and take in some stunning views.

For gentler walking, enjoy a leisurely stroll around historic Foxton Locks on the Grand Union Canal near Market Harborough ( A 1.5-mile Discovery Trail has recently been devised on which visitors take in the striking landscape and learn about the natural and industrial heritage of the area. As well as the major attraction of a flight of 10 locks dating from 1810, you'll see elegant brick bridges, a lock-keeper's cottage and the remains of a gigantic boat lift.

Or how about a location vacation? Leicestershire is the backdrop to a number of movies: hotspots include Belvoir Castle ( near Melton Mowbray, which recently featured in The Young Victoria and also appeared in The Da Vinci Code; while the heritage steam line the Great Central Railway ( in Loughborough was a location in The Hours and also appears in Cemetery Junction, Ricky Gervais's directorial debut, scheduled to be released in April 2010.

Families can discover Leicestershire for less on a Stay, Play, Explore package ( A short break for a family of four costs as little as £99 and includes entry to three popular attractions.

Further information

For more ideas and accommodation suggestions go to