It doesn’t quite feel right thinking about the end of the summer. As we write this, the longest day is still to come, tales of Glastonbury mud-baths are yet to surface and ice creams haven’t been sloppily dropped down our raincoats – but that hasn’t stopped those good people at Journeys Festival International from announcing the exciting talent they’ll be bringing to the streets of Leicester in late August and early September.

This is the fifth annual Journeys Festival International to be held in our city. It’s a chance to celebrate the artistic talents of refugee and asylum seekers, sharing their stories through great art and culture. Taking place from 21st August – 3rd September, it’ll showcase the finest of work through a range of accessible creative events.

It’s certainly looking like a packed fortnight. There’s simply too much happening to mention it all here so we’ve picked out some potential highlights.

You could do far worse than head into town during the festival weekends for you’ll surely get caught up in the energy. On Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th August, there’s the Journeys Weekender in Jubilee Square – a free celebration of influences and talent from around the world. For that one weekend, Jubilee Square will be transformed into a vibrant melting pot with a world music stage, pop up performances, street food vendors and hands-on, artist-led creative workshops.

And then on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September, there’s going to be a spectacular weekend takeover of New Walk, bringing to life the exhibition spaces up in that part of town. There will be interactive workshops, pop-up theatre performances, live music, Soft Touch Arts pop up café, spoken word and hands-on creative activity for all ages (again).

Anyone familiar with the imposing and moving photo-journalism of Daniel Castro Garcia, the British Journal of Photography’s Photographer of the Year, will know his work has done wonders to bring the refugee experience into the public realm, documenting movement across Europe and combatting more sensationalist images. From Friday 18th August through to Monday 3rd September, large scale photographs of his will be displayed on many buildings around the town. Look out for the ones on BBC Radio Leicester, Curve and High Cross.

The Container Project sounds like a must see. A shipping container will be placed in Orton Square and transformed into an innovative project space. To mark the beginning of the festival, it’ll have a mural designed on it by infamous Manchester graffiti duo Nomad Clan. Then later, at the forefront of visual reality technology, Rekrei (created in reaction to the systematic destruction of Mosul Cultural Museum by Daesh) will reconstruct a VR experience in the shipping container with artefacts from the museum through a series of crowd sourced imagery, enabling a digital preservation of cultural heritage. Sounds ace, even if we’re not entirely sure what this’ll involve in reality!

It makes us proud to think that Journeys Festival International, established here in Leicester by Artreach, is spreading wings this year and making appearances in Manchester, Portsmouth, Rome, Palermo, Hamburg and Budapest. But, we’re also happy that the festival is not forgetting its roots.

Be curious and get exploring to see some mind enhancing art later this year. 

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