What we're up against - the line-up of contenders for the 2017 City of Culture crown
Leicester has 10 rivals for the City of Culture crown. Jane Renton gives us a whistle-stop tour of their cultural offerings.
Plymouth: Historically significant, Plymouth is working up to its Mayflower 400 anniversary in 2020. The port launched English settlers – the Pilgrim Fathers – who established the second colony in the modern USA. Sir Francis Drake loved its Hoe and it has a superbly restored lido.
Aberdeen: Singers Emeli Sande and Annie Lennox come from this city, famed for its association with warrior King of Scots, Robert the Bruce. Voted the fourth most liveable city in the UK in 2012, it has won the Britain in Bloom competition an unprecedented 10 times.
Chester: Bordering England and Wales and known as a top choice for Merseyside footballers wives. A key Roman city, it is crammed full of pretty medieval timber–framed houses and relics.
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Dundee: With the development of the V&A design centre, the Dundee Rep theatre and the popularity of Dundee Contemporary Arts, the city has the impressive Tay Rail Bridge and an historic link with Robert the Bruce.
East Kent: Kent's bid includes Canterbury, Ashford, Dover, Folkestone and Thanet. There was once an ancient boundary stone that marked the division of Kent into its east and west zones – the Men of Kent and the Kentish Men. Canterbury Cathedral and the white cliffs of Dover are high points.
Hastings and Bexhill on Sea: Hastings will always be famous for King Harold and 1066 and ancient kings are big news with the recent discovery of Richard III. Neighbour Bexhill was Spike Milligan's garrison town during the Second World War.
Hull: It is the only city in the UK to have distinctive cream telephone boxes and is home to MP John "two-jags" Prescott. After a whaling past and a less well known Second World War blitz, it has lots of ferries and a fabulous aquarium called The Deep.
Portsmouth and Southampton: Following on from the recent centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, both are steeped in naval history. Southampton has a thriving arts scene and a new SeaCity museum, as well as one of the top 100 UK universities.
Southend on Sea: Famous for a pint of prawns on the seafront, Southend is the closest seaside town to London. Not the obvious choice for culture, it is hoped the title could bring the kind of investment enjoyed by Margate with the Turner Contemporary Gallery.
Swansea Bay: The only Welsh contender is the birthplace of Dylan Thomas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Richard Burton. Appropriately, it has a well-respected film festival, and has been featured in Doctor Who and Torchwood by local writer Russell T Davies.