Annual arts festival, Journeys Festival International Leicester, is back this month with a stunning programme of work created by artists from the refugee and asylum seeker community that explores the diversity of refugee experiences through artistic and creative encounters.

Produced by local cultural development charity Artreach, the festival returns for its seventh year from 15th – 30th August with a programme packed full of an inspiring mix of live music, street theatre, interactive installations, films, talks and workshops.

There are several free and ticketed events across the 15 days including family-friendly activities and performances. Here’s our picks from this year’s must-see programme.

Feast your eyes with visual arts exhibitions including Portrait of a City (5th – 30th August), an outdoor gallery featuring images of individuals representing Leicester’s diverse community by Sibomana and Farhad Berahman ; Recovered Histories (10th – 30th August), an exhibition of new work created by printmaker George Sfougaras, inspired by members of the refugee and asylum-seeking community and Coming Home (Until 22nd September), Journeys Festival International Leicester’s ROOTS group have worked with artists to produce artworks inspired by themes of home and identity.

I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See (16th – 30th August) is a powerful exhibition by UK Photographer Giles Duley featuring a series of hundred images documenting the refugee crisis for UNCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Reckoning with Refugeedom (24th – 28th August), a new artwork by Mei Yuk Wong shares the hidden voice of refugees in history and offers us the chance to consider their stories in relation to experiences today.

Using the latest digital technology, Enharmonic (19th – 25th August), is a sound installation looking at different music traditions, and how music and culture can shape a person’s identity. A Warm Welcome (15th – 30th August) is an intergenerational project bringing together unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people with older and second-generation refugees.  Inspired by a letter written by Lord Dubs to newly arrived young refugees, the participants have worked with poet, Jess Green, to explore what they have learnt since arriving in the UK and what advice they’d give to new arrivals. These letters are transformed into posters that will be displayed in window spaces across the city centre. An installation that enables you to communicate across borders, The Channel (17th – 22nd August) will connect Leicester with people indefinitely detained in UK immigration removal centres via a sculpture which resembles an old-fashioned phone box. Angels (16th & 17th August), celebrates the courage and optimism of displaced people through a series of video portraits projected around the city, talking to us, by surprise, in the most unexpected places.

For the family, enjoy the Easy Saturday JFI Takeover with the family (10th August) at LCB Depot for a host of free activities including drumming, printmaking and the chance to help to create a giant cardboard city! Join Soft Touch Arts in the Global Kitchen (17th August) to sample culinary delights from different countries and take a Journeys Through the Museum (15th August) at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery with a day of free arts activities, music and performance from around the world. As part of Journeys Through the Museum, experience To and Fro (15th August) with Mafwa, a community theatre company and explore the ways in which we move through and interact with cities through photography, film, spoken word and movement, exploring the places we now call home.

There is plenty of powerful performances to indulge yourself in including, Stories of Sanctuary (27th August) is an emotive and poignant show of original songs written and performed the Sanctuary Seekers Choir.

You can also meander through the streets of Leicester with a gloriously colourful creation of fun, dance, music and song at Lives and Lemons (24th August) and enjoy a line-up of incredible emerging and established artists from across continents at Journeys Live (16th August).  Listen as four young refugees tell their story in Pizza Shop Heroes (17th August), a unique exploration of masculinity and forced migration that is powerful, funny, resistant and revealing and experience the vibrant style of Theatre Temoin at Routes (16th August) at they use comedy and large-scale puppetry on an adventure that explores destinations, journeys, taking flight and the people they meet along the way.

Throughout the festival Phoenix will be hosting a series of film screenings, Journeys Film & VR Programme, exploring the journeys taken through forced displacement and migration and the wider impact of change on societies. Each screening will be accompanied by a supplementary activity such as panel discussions and Q+As.

The festival will close on 30th August with a takeover of LCB Depot’s #LastFriday event. With delicious food from around the world and DJs playing global tunes for a FREE, fun-filled Friday evening.

For more information and to see the full brochure of events visit


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