Leicester's cutback Diwali celebrations do not deter crowds

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laser show in fire garden
Image caption,
A fire garden and laser show were new features for this year's Diwali celebrations in Leicester

Celebrations for Diwali have lit up Leicester's Golden Mile despite a reduced programme this year.

Thousands of people returned to enjoy the spectacle on Belgrave Road on Thursday after the coronavirus pandemic interrupted festivities in 2020.

The city is said to host the largest celebrations for the light festival outside of India.

This year, a fire garden and laser light show replaced the annual firework display to help avoid large gatherings.

Image caption,
Celebrations were smaller this year in light of the pandemic

Large screens along Belgrave Road also showed a pre-recorded programme which replaced the usual stage show.

The city and county councils had asked people to take lateral flow tests before attending the event and to stay at home if they felt unwell, even if the tests came back negative.

Ivan Browne, director of public health for Leicester, said: "While the risk of transmission at an outdoor event is much lower than in an indoor space, the virus can easily be passed on when people are close together.

"Visiting friends and families in their homes is a traditional part of Diwali Day, but please remember that the virus thrives indoors. If you are inviting people into your home, keep the windows open and encourage visitors to wear a face covering - even if everyone is fully vaccinated."

Image caption,
The lights on Belgrave Road were switched on two weeks ago

Dharmesh Lakhani, owner of Bobby's restaurant on Belgrave Road, said he was "grateful" the venue was full with customers once more.

"It's been busy around here for about 10 days," he said. "It's been two years since this happened here so it's been really, really brilliant.

"It's nice to see so many people out and about again."

Image caption,
The wheel of light has become a regular feature for Diwali in Leicester

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