Two years to the day that the first COVID lockdown began, the Leicestershire Tourism industry gathered together at the Griffin Inn in Swithland to celebrate the resilience and creativity of businesses across the county.

The event, hosted by Leicestershire Promotions, was held on Leicestershire Tourism Day (22 March), right in the middle of English Tourism Week (18-27 March), and the perfect opportunity to highlight and promote many of our incredible attractions, hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses.

The day started with a look back over the challenges of the last two years, with Chas Bishop of the National Space Centre outlining how the attraction responded to the unprecedented challenges of COVID. Then Erika Hardy of Everards explained how the company created their new brewery and Everards Meadows attraction during lockdown, while supporting landlords in the 160 Everards pubs that were forced to close.

Bosworth Heritage Trail

There were also a couple of previews of some exciting new things to come for the county, including a King Richard III Sculpture trail, which is intended to tell the story of five remarkable places across Hinckley and Bosworth with a close link to the story of the tragic King. From the church where Richard prayed the night before the battle to the “birthplace of the Tudor dynasty” in Stoke Golding and Bosworth Battlefield itself, the pieces aim to recapture the community spirit and positivity of the reinterment day, when the cortège wound its way through the beautiful West Leicestershire landscape.

The trail will give visitors the chance to explore this area of the county while discovering more about the story which has become synonymous with Leicestershire. Find out more at the Bosworth1485 website.

Charnwood Forest Geopark

The Charnwood Forest Geopark also spoke on their plans to gain Unesco Global Geopark status for the Charnwood Forest. The Forest, covering the area between Leicester, Loughborough and Coalville is already full of sites of special scientific interest, and changed everything we knew about the development of life on our planet when the oldest fossil of an animal was found there in 1957.

The area is also famous for its rocks, the Charnwood, Swithland and Markfield rocks are used in buildings across the country, including in the villages around the Charnwood Forest. They also have become part of our country’s structures, with Swithland slate in London’s Albert Memorial, Markfield stone in the cobbles of London’s Victorian streets and Charnwood rocks used in the construction of Silverstone racetrack and the Shard.

The Awards

So onto the awards. There were a number of different awards, covering places to eat, places to stay, and places to go. There were also some special awards to recognise the efforts put in over the last two years.

Resilience and Innovation

Nevill Holt Opera

Unsung Hero

Lisa Kirby, Leicester Conferences, University of Leicester

New Tourism Business

Winner: Hastings Retreat

Highly Commended: Wild Minds

Best Free Event

Winner: 800th Anniversary Of Loughborough Fair

Highly Commended: Brew Beat, Feast Hinckley, Cinema In The Park, Coalville

Best Paid Event

Timber Festival

Taste Of Leicestershire

Casual Dining: The Lighthouse

Pub Of The Year: Tap And Run

Best Afternoon Tea: Wistow Café Bistro

Ethical, Responsible And Sustainable Tourism

Horseshoe Cottage Farm

Best Visitor Experience

Winner: Greenwood Days

Highly Commended: Rothley Wine Estate, Wild Minds

Self-Catering/Holiday Park

Winner: Brook Meadow

Highly Commended: Hastings Retreat

Small Hotel/B&B Of The Year

Horseshoe Cottage Farm

Large Hotel Of The Year

Winner: Novotel Leicester

Highly Commended: Imago Venues, Burleigh Court

Small Visitor Attraction Of The Year

Winner: Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre

Highly Commended: King Richard III Visitor Centre, Escape Coalville

Large Attraction Of The Year

Winner: The National Space Centre

Highly Commended: Conkers

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