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Discover Loughborough: A Journey Through History, Nature, and Culture

Posted: 30th November 2023 - 11:30am

If you're considering furthering your education at Loughborough College, you might wonder what the town offers.

Loughborough, nestled in the heart of Charnwood, Leicestershire, is a hub for academic excellence and a treasure trove of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you're a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or someone who enjoys a day out exploring, Loughborough promises many exciting experiences beyond the classroom.

From the historic charm of Queen's Park to the melodies of the Loughborough Carillon Tower, a nostalgic journey aboard the Great Central Railway or the serene beauty of Charnwood Water, Loughborough is a town that seamlessly blends the old with the new. Whilst the College or University might be your primary reason for travelling here, the town's rich attractions will ensure that your time outside study will be just as enriching.

So, if you're contemplating Loughborough for your post-16 studies and are curious about what awaits you beyond the College gates, read on. We've curated a list of 10 must-visit attractions that showcase the very essence of Loughborough. Dive in and discover a town waiting to welcome you with 
open arms.

In no particular order, here’s a list of our 10 must-see attractions to see and do in Loughborough.

The 10 Best Things to do in Loughborough

Loughborough Sock Statue

Queen’s Park

Dive into the history and beauty of Queen's Park, an award-winning gem in the heart of Loughborough.

Queen's Park gardens

Located in the heart of Loughborough town centre and a short walk from Loughborough College, Queen's Park is a historic, award-winning park that has been a favourite among locals and visitors alike. Having achieved the Green Flag award every year since 2008, this park is a testament to excellence in green spaces. It has offered many activities since opening in June 1899 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

Loughborough’s Queen's Park is the perfect place to unwind, featuring open grasslands for recreation, paved paths for short walks, and fantastic floral displays. This park is also home to the Carillon Tower War Memorial and Museum, summer bandstand concerts, and aviaries containing a variety of birds.

Queen's Park website

Loughborough War Memorial and Carillon

Experience the resonating history and bells c at the Loughborough Carillon Tower and War Memorial Museum.

Old John at Bradgate Park

The Loughborough Carillon Tower and War Memorial Museum stands as a testament to the town's rich history and dedication to its war heroes. This iconic tower offers a mesmerising view from its balcony. It houses the enchanting Carillon Bells – made at John Taylor’s local foundry. Regular Carillon recitals are scheduled, providing visitors with a unique auditory experience.

Inside the museum is a life-size model of "Songster" - a horse that bravely fought and survived the battlefields of France during World War One alongside his rider Bert Main, along with various display cases showcasing the town's history. The tower also participates in the Charnwood Community Lottery, aiming to raise funds for a Community Cabinet where individuals and organisations can display their collections.

Carillon Tower website

Charnwood Museum

Dive into Loughborough's rich past at the Charnwood Museum, a gateway to the town's heritage

Queen's Park Museum exterior with flowers in the foreground

Housed in the former Victorian swimming baths, the Charnwood Museum is a beacon of Loughborough's vibrant history and culture. The museum offers a comprehensive look into the geology, archaeology, history, and industries of Charnwood and its surrounding areas. Visitors can immerse themselves in permanent displays such as 'Coming to Charnwood', 'The Natural World of Charnwood', 'Living off the Land', and 'Earning a Living'. The museum also boasts the Charnwood Gallery, which showcases various art displays throughout the year. Whether you're a history enthusiast or just curious about Loughborough's past, the Charnwood Museum promises a captivating journey through time.

Charnwood Museum website

Great Central Railway

Embark on a nostalgic journey with the Great Central Railway

A steam train at the Great Central Railway in Loughborough

The Great Central Railway is a unique gem in heritage railways. As the UK's only double-track, main-line heritage railway, it offers a one-of-a-kind experience where full-size steam engines pass each other, recreating the golden era of steam. It operates every weekend throughout the year, on Bank Holidays and selected weekdays during the summer.

For those seeking a luxurious experience, the First-Class Restaurant Car Services offer a lavish five-course meal while travelling between Loughborough and Leicester. The railway hosts many special events, including Steam Galas, Diesel Galas, Bonfire Night, the 1940s Wartime Weekend, and the enchanting Santa Specials. Whether you're a railway enthusiast or just looking for a unique day out, the Great Central Railway promises an unforgettable experience.

Great Central Railway website

Taylors Bell Foundry

Step into the world of bell-making at Taylors Bell Foundry, Britain's last major bell foundry, preserving the ancient craft of bell founding

Taylors Bell Foundry, also known as the Loughborough Bell Foundry, is a testament to the age-old craft of bell founding. Home to the historic bellfounders John Taylor and Company, this site holds immense architectural and historical significance on a global scale.

Since 1859, the foundry has cast over 25,000 bells that resonate in over 100 countries worldwide. The foundry offers a unique experience for visitors, allowing them to explore the Victorian factory buildings and delve deep into the intricate process of bell-making.

With a significant grant secured, the site is undergoing refurbishment and will soon offer a new events programme. Whether you're a history enthusiast or simply curious, Taylors Bell Foundry offers a captivating journey into the world of bells.

Belltrust website

Charnwood Water

Discover the serene beauty of Charnwood Water, a haven for wildlife and a popular spot for leisure amidst nature

Ducks and Swans on Charnwood Water

Nestled in the heart of Loughborough, Charnwood Water is a picturesque lake spanning around 27 acres, surrounded by lush trees and a scenic footpath just shy of a mile. A perfect spot for nature enthusiasts, the area is home to diverse wildlife. It offers stunning views of the Great Central Railway train line.

Charnwood Water is the ideal destination, whether you're looking for a peaceful walk, a refreshing run, or simply a place to relax and soak in the natural beauty. The site is a favourite among families, dog walkers, and runners. Visiting Charnwood Water is convenient, with easy access from Tuckers Road and a free car park.

The site offers multiple seating areas to relax and enjoy the surroundings. For those interested in fishing, the lake is open for activity between June and March, with both day and season tickets available. Additionally, the Leicestershire Radio Yacht Club has been racing model yachts at Charnwood Water for over two decades, adding to the site's charm.

Charnwood water website

The Outwoods

Explore the Outwoods, Loughborough's ancient woodland treasure, and immerse yourself in nature's splendour

Outwood walk trail - Loughborough woodland walk

Covering 110 acres, the Outwoods is one of Charnwood's oldest surviving woodland sites, offering a serene escape to nature lovers. Located south of Loughborough, this ancient woodland boasts many walking routes, including an easy access path that provides a glimpse of the area's diverse birdlife.

A highlight for many visitors is the breathtaking display of bluebells that adorn the north side of the woodland every spring. Recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England, The Outwoods holds significant ecological and geological value. The woodland was generously gifted to the people of Loughborough in 1946 and is now managed by the Outwoods Management Committee.

Facilities include:

  • A 24-hour car park.
  • A natural children's play area.
  • A newly established visitor centre and café.

Outwoods website

Beacon Hill

Experience the beauty and tranquillity of Beacon Hill, one of Leicestershire's premier country parks, offering a blend of nature, history, and recreation

Cows grazing on Beacon Hill in Loughbrough

Just a stone's throw away from Loughborough, Beacon Hill Country Park spans a vast area, providing visitors with many activities and sights. Located near Woodhouse Eaves, the park is easily accessible and offers ample parking facilities. Beacon Hill is renowned for its diverse landscapes, from ancient woodlands to open grasslands and at 248m is the second-highest point in Leicestershire. It is a favourite spot for picnics, walks, and nature observation.

The park also boasts a café that offers both dine-in and takeaway services, ensuring visitors can refuel after exploring. The natural play areas are a hit for families, while history and nature enthusiasts can delve into the park's rich geology and biodiversity. With designated picnic spots, well-maintained trails, and regular events, Beacon Hill promises a day of relaxation and discovery.

Charnwood water website

Bradgate Park

Revel in the natural beauty and rich history of Bradgate Park, a cherished expanse of Leicestershire's countryside, and explore the wonders of Swithland Wood

Old John at Bradgate Park

In the heart of Charnwood Forest, Bradgate Park is a sprawling 850-acre estate that has captivated visitors for generations. This historic park, once the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey (England's nine-day queen), blends rugged heathland, ancient oak trees, and serene waterways.

The park's iconic Old John Tower, a beloved Leicestershire landmark since 1784, is undergoing restoration efforts, ensuring its legacy continues for future generations. Alongside its rich history, Bradgate Park offers a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, with its resident deer herd being a significant attraction.

Adjacent to Bradgate is Swithland Wood, a picturesque woodland perfect for tranquil walks. Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or seeking a peaceful retreat, Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood promises a memorable experience.

Bradgate Park website

Loughborough Fair

Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Loughborough Fair, a centuries-old tradition that brings joy, entertainment, and a touch of history to the heart of Loughborough


Loughborough Fair is a time-honoured event celebrated for centuries, with its first official Charter granted in 1221 by King Henry III. The fair transforms Loughborough into a bustling entertainment hub every year, attracting locals and visitors alike.

The Loughborough Fair traditionally takes place over the 2nd weekend in November, arriving on the Wednesday before and finishing on the Saturday evening, featuring many rides, games, stalls, and refreshments. There's something for everyone, from thrilling large rides to delightful children's attractions.

Loughborough Fair website