Leicester loved the return of Journeys Festival International

Journeys Festival International Leicester returned for a seventh successful year to showcase a range of engaging and emotive work.

The 15-day Festival (15-30 August) celebrated the talents of refugee artists as well as the diversity of the refugee and asylum-seeker experience.

Extending over the length of the programme and beyond were many visual arts exhibitions for festival-goers to take shelter from the changeable summer weather. The collaboration between artists, Sibomana and Farhad Berahman transformed the streets of Leicester with their Portrait of a City exhibition.

There was also the Coming Home exhibition where local artists George Sfougaras and Linda Harding worked with ROOTS group to produce artworks for New Walk Museum and Art Gallery.

George Sfougaras also produced a stunning set of works for a Recovered Histories exhibition, partly in LCB Depot, partly in Leicester Cathedral. Inspired by members of the refugee and asylum-seeking community, it included a portrait of the Bishop of Loughborough, Bishop Guli.

The latter venue was also a refuge for those seeking out beautiful music as the Sanctuary Seekers choir performed emotive original songs as part of Stories of Sanctuary.

Award-winning international photographer, Giles Duley, naturally attracted attention with I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See. In partnership with De Montfort University, the exhibition was a spectacular sight in their gallery and this location also played host to the buzzing launch of the Festival. All enjoyed the photographer’s special video message for this event, but his later artist talk was the real treat.

Such an exciting launch was the perfect set-up for a Friday filled with performance and music as Journeys Live brought global sounds to Jubilee Square and Theatre Témoin’s wonderful large-scale puppets in Routes enchanted the busy crowds in Highcross Shopping Centre.

The weekend was an opportunity to stumble across some thought-provoking artistic encounters thanks to Laurence Payot and Parang Khrezi. After a series of interviews, video portraits were projected around the city to transform the urban surroundings and delight while celebrating the courage and optimism of displaced people in Angels.

Saturday was another busy day thanks to Soft Touch Arts hosting the immensely successful Global Kitchen sessions. Foodies could learn and sample international recipes before popping outside to listen to Isobel Tarr’s The Channel.

Theatre lovers could avoid the rush of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe as the Festival bought Edinburgh Fringe hit Pizza Shop Heroes to town. People had the chance to see Phosphoros Theatre’s acclaimed show after its Scottish run all while enjoying the artwork of A Warm Welcome, an intergenerational project in The Curve as well as other Leicester locations.

As always, this year’s Film Programme was as diverse and innovative as ever. Encapsulating everything from local Nottingham filmmaker, Sharon Walia’s powerful documentary, The Movement to a gripping drama, The Flood featuring famous faces including Game of Thrones stars, Lena Headey and Iain Glen.

The Festival worked with Phoenix Leicester to wow audiences in one more exciting way. Attendees of Sea Prayer were treated to the VR experience of Khaled Hosseini’s short fiction read as well as visitors to #LastFriday enjoying various short films in VR.

This helped to conclude the Festival on a high note as Journeys Festival International Leicester took over the successful monthly event in the hub of Leicester’s cultural quarter. As the collective, The Promised Land spun global grooves, street-food enthusiasts could chow down on some of the delicious (and often vegan) food offerings while being entertained by the always excellent Mythm and their melodies.

The party atmosphere was a fabulous way to end the jam-packed 15 days of theatre, music, art, films, workshops and more that continues to highlight the experiences of an important Leicester community.

If you've enjoyed reading about Journeys Festival International Leicester, why not take a look at the programmes for Manchester and Portsmouth?

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