Once you get to Leicester for the SHA Conference in January 2013, you are most likely to travel between the university, and the shops, bars and hotels of the city centre, by taking a stroll down New Walk. New Walk isn’t really all that new; in 1785 the Leicester Corporation decided to lay out a pedestrian walkway which would link the town with the racecourse (now Victoria Park, which was laid out in 1883). This promenade still serves its original function, the passage of pedestrians unimpeded by vehicles to this day (although you might see the odd transgressive cyclist).
Halfway down the New Walk, this museum and art gallery was originally built as a Nonconformist school in 1836, and became a museum in 1849, when the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society presented its collections to the city. The museum combines an ongoing series of temporary exhibitions with its own permanent collections of Picasso ceramics, art from the 16th to 21st centuries, natural history, and dinosaurs! Entry to the New Walk Museum is free, and the opening hours and access information can be found here.
Having been the location of Leicester’s first racecourse (now relocated to Oadby, on the outskirts of the city), Victoria Park was laid out in 1883; a set of green lungs for the rapidly expanding city. Victoria Park is home to a number of festivities during the summer, including the Caribbean Carnival, the Summer Sundae music festival, and Leicester Pride. Throughout the year, Victoria Park acts as the University’s back garden, a venue for sporting endeavour, on the football and rugby pitches and tennis courts, and a place of reflection at Sir Edwin Lutyens‘ war memorial of 1923.