It’s not just orange cheese and Gary Lineker you know! Leicester is a compact cosmopolitan city in the heart of England: a great gay away-day break from your local scene writes OutUK's Adrian Gillan as he lifts the lid on those lush local Leicester lads.

You barely have to stretch your legs to find your strength at small ambient stylish café-bar Bossa, scarce a spit and a spunk from the train station. Thaw and nestle snug by candlelight with Leicester’s finest Midland maties in winter, or sprawl out onto Granby Street in the sweltering heat - gorging on a fine menu of interesting, healthy and inexpensive tasties.

Helsinki is a bar and nightclub that is Bossa's sister bar on Rutland Street. They host various dance nights throughout the week including a hard house night and feature regular guest DJ's.

If you just stroll fifty meters round the corner from Bossa you'll find the flamboyant ‘Dolly’ Dover Castle, reputed - by locals at least - to be the oldest gay pub in the kingdom. Revamped more times than any can recall, it was once frequented by gay drama queens Joe Orton & Kenneth Halliwell when Joe lived in Leicester. Rumour has it that Reggie Kray visited the place once in the 60s too.
The Dolly Dover Castle
The ‘Dolly’ is a real community hub, serving up good food by day and cabaret and dance by night to a friendly crowd of both sexes and all ages. They have karaoke on a Monday night and DJ's every other night until midnight, 2am Friday and Saturday.

The Rainbow and Dove is a recently refurbished pub on Charles Street that serves food, including Sunday lunches. It's a very Gay-friendly cafe/bar, with a high ceiling and exposed stonework. Monday night sees their Pink Pound Party, plus a cocktail night on Tuesdays and vodka promotions on Wednesdays.

By now fully steeped in the local gay lore, it’s time to up the style stakes and that means a short ten minute stroll uptown to the main gay epicentre around Belgrave Gate. Make the nightclub Venom your first port of call. It's built on the site of the previous Quebec bar after a substantial investment.

Built on the site of the house of John Merrick - the famed ‘Elephant Man’ of Victorian times - Streetlife has been attracting its own unique exotic blend of queer life forms ever since. As the town’s only full-time gay club, it is packed to the rafters every night - even higher at weekends, especially with cheap entry on a Friday. It has a large sprawling bar area where locals dance to cheese and a spacious main hall overlooked by another lofty hanging bar – offering yet more cheese. The toilets are busy as are the numerous old, dimly lit, industrial red-bricked alleys outside nearby.

Many who leave alone wend their ways to the neighbouring Abbey Park. You cross a small bridge and drop down onto the towpath by the Grand Union Canal just inside the park.

In the rear car park there's lots of car fun to be had, but you can also go along canal bank and pick up guys. There's often action in bushes also and park. As ever, you need to take care.

The Old Bridge In Abbey Park, Leicester.
Photo: Andy Morton
If it’s wet and muddy, you’ve a choice of two decent saunas, again not that far away. Celts sounds particularly popular by all accounts - It's discreetly located just around the corner from Braunstone Gate in Leicester's trendy West End,and is the biggest and cruisiest sauna for gay, bi-sexual and bi-curious men. Club 29 which is predominantly for swingers and mixed couples has a few nights suitable for the boys.

Leicester also boasts a LGBT Centre back by the station, and this café-bar and info centre has been supporting the LGBT communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland for over 40 years.

Leicester is little more than an hour away from London St Pancras by East Midlands Trains.

Bossa (110 Granby Street; T: 0116 233 4544)
Celts (38 Narborough Road, LE3; T: 0116 285 6000; Website)
Club 29 (29 New Bond Street; T: 0116 262 7770; Website)
Dover Castle (34 Dover Street; T: 0116 222 8826; Website)
LGBT Centre (15 Wellington Street; T: 0116 254 7412; Website)
Helsinki (94 Rutland St; T: 07872 647540; Website)
Rainbow and Dove (185 Charles St; Website)
Streetlife (24 Dryden Street off Lee Circle; T: 0116 251 0785)
Venom (94-96 Belgrave Gate; T: 0116 251 7986; Website)

Revised February 2018.


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