Leicester is a city of epic history, battles won and lost, King’s in carparks and a cathedral that can rival some of Europe’s best. We thought Leicester may have been a strange location for the National Space Centre in England. But then again it may have been the perfect way to combine history with the future.
The National Space Centre has quickly become one of the best days out in Leicester for families. This Leicester attraction draws visitors in from far and wide. It is that type of attraction that mixes hands-on fun with learning.
The National Space Center England opened its doors in Leicester in 2001 to much fanfare. The Space Centre is a collaboration between the University of Leicester and the local government.
The first thing that strikes you about the Leicester National Space Centre is the rocket tower. The tower is 42 m (138 ft) tall and claims to be the only place to house upright space rockets indoors.
It gives you a great indication of how big these rockets actually are.
There are 4 floors that allow you to view the rockets at different heights. On these floors is a history of the space race and memorabilia from that time. You can even see an original piece of moon rock.
The real star of the show is Sir Patrick Morre Planetarium. The planetarium/cinema delivers you a 360-degree movie experience, it literally puts you in space. When we visited it was showing a movie about the space race and the Apollo missions to the moon
You get a nice big comfortable chair that lays back while you immerse yourself in the happening of the movie from all angles. It brings space up close and personal.
Like all good attractions, there is a gift shop and cafe on site.
The gift shop selling the usual souvenirs such as t-shirts, cups, posters, bits and bobs.
The cafe surprised us, not for its food variety but for its prices. The prices were very reasonable for an attraction of this quality. Some of the prices were as follows.
Sausage Roll 1.95 GBP
Soup with a bread roll 2.95 GBP
Milk Shake 1.90 GBP
600 ml Coke or Sprite 1.60 GBP
Sandwiches from 2.15 – 2.95 GBP
We also witnessed many families who bought there own food with them to eat. This helps keep your activities in Leicester at a reasonable cost for families.
The centre has 6 interactive galleries. Into Space was an eye-opener. You walk through a module from the International Space Station.
You will find suits, rooms they lived in and even get the answer to the million-dollar question…How do they go to the toilet in space?
Orbiting Earth gallery allowed you to sit and watch another big screen that highlighted the changes in the planet. It showed amazing images taken by satellites at different times of the same place on the planet.
From a desert in Saudi Arabia to 10 years later a farming project at the same spot. From desert to farmland in a short space of time.
For younger kids Tranquility base allows them to become an astronaut in space in the year 2025. The kids have to do a series of interactive activities to get assigned there position on the Luna base
Our Solar System gallery has an amazing module of the Mars Rover that you can drive. It allows you to practice driving the Mars rover on the red planet.
It was great fun and a real highlight of the visit. Along with Mars Rover, there is plenty of information on the planets of our Solar System
There is just so much to see and o at the space Centre you won’t know where to start, we have only scratched the surface literally.
National Space Centre Events
The Nation Space Centre also has special events. These are highly popular with locals looking for things to do in Leicestershire. When we visited they had upcoming events such as the premier of Shaun the Sheep ‘Farmageddon’, a Halloween party and the 20th anniversary of Wild Wild West playing in the Planetarium.
Spooky Space and Elements in Space display talks and science experiments were happening at different time. These special features regularly change in the hope there is something new for repeat visitors to the Space Centre in Leicester.
Space Centre Leicester Prices
Child (5-16) £12.00
Under 5 FREE
Parking (all day ) £3.00
*Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Concession; over 60, Student (NUS card required), Disability. Parking for a full day is just £3. (Prices correct as of October 2019)
National Space Center Opening Times
Monday – Friday: 10:00 – 17:00
Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 – 17:00
For some special events, we are also open in the evening, check the Calendar for details!
National Space Centre discount tickets can be regually found on sites such as Groupon
How to get to the National Space Centre
By Car: The National Space Centre is located just off the A6, two miles north of Leicester City Centre, midway between Leicester’s inner and outer ring roads.
Brown road signs with a distinctive rocket logo will direct you from the arterial routes around Leicester.
Space Centre Leicester parking is available onsite. There are 400 car parks that cost 3 pounds for the day
First Bus 54 runs every 10 mins throughout the day Monday to Saturday and every 20 mins on Sunday running from 9.30 am.
The bus stop is a short 2 minutes’ walk away from one of the best attractions in Leicester
By Train: East Midland Trains and Cross Country Trains serve Leicester Station. From here take the bus as described above or use a taxi.
Hotels near the National Space Centre
To be honest there is not a lot of Leicester accommodation options close to the National Space Centre. What you will find is a handful of upmarket hotels such as Holiday Inn and Ibis. You can see hotels near the National Space Centre below on the map from Booking.com
We highly recommend a visit to the National Space Centre in Leicester. It is a real eye-opener and exciting for anyone who has even just a passing interest in space.
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About the Author
Mark Wyld is a father, husband, traveler, and chief destination marketing manager at Wyld Family Travel. Having been to over 35 countries worldwide he knows a thing or 2 about traveling with kids and now traveling with teenagers. He has been writing first-hand, expert travel guides on this website for over 6 years and has featured on numerous other popular well-known websites. When he is not talking, dreaming, or planning travel he can be found working in disability support.