Summer of festivals 2018

Still finding rainbow glitter in your hair from Pride In Hull? Been rocking a sea shanty earworm ever since Hull Folk Festival? Hold those thoughts … festival season is a long way from over yet.

We love a good festival here in Hull, and the city’s flagship events get bigger and better every year. With so much free entertainment alongside ticketed events, and everything from the UK’s biggest festival of unsigned musicians to a national science festival, you can’t go wrong.

In the next few weeks alone, we’ve got annual events such as the newly expanded Humber Street Sesh music festival to look forward to, the mighty Freedom Festival, Heads Up theatre festival, Yum! Festival of Food and Drink and a summer skateboard festival; as well as visiting events including Europe’s longest running science festival – the British Science Festival – and a festival of cheese (the food, not the music). Looking further ahead, Back To Ours – the festival that brings incredible, affordable acts to the heart of Hull’s communities, Humber Mouth literature festival and Contains Strong Language – a collaboration between Absolutely Cultured, the BBC and Wrecking Ball Press – are all on the horizon, too.

Humber Street Sesh

Friday 3 August and Saturday 4 August, 2018. Hull city centre. Tickets £10 per day in advance, £15 per day on the gate.

Two days. Fourteen stages. More than 200 acts.

Without question one of Hull’s annual highlights, Humber Street Sesh reigns as the UK’s biggest festival for emerging, unsigned acts.

It’s a huge success story for the city, and its roots are in a fantastic, free gig night that runs every single Tuesday at the Polar Bear venue.

Mark Page, festival founder and director, says: “Humber Street Sesh festival started life in 2012, as a crowdfunded community event in a couple of warehouses down Humber Street that saw 60 acts play to around 10,000. Seven years on, the festival is now hosting 200+ acts over an expanded site, anticipating a weekend audience of up to 40,000. Without the pull of big names, the festival attracts huge numbers and is unique in this respect. We continue to provide a powerful platform for emerging acts.”

This year, Friday 3 August is the night to see all your festival favourites, with a line-up of previous year’s headliners, including Counting Coins, Endoflevelbaddie and Chris Helme of Seahorses, as well as another chance to catch the Turn And Face The Strange production about the life of Hull’s own Spider From Mars, David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson.

Mark Page says: “This is a real coup for the festival, and one not to be missed, as we pay tribute to the city’s finest-ever musicians who gave Bowie the platform to the world.”

Meanwhile, the full Saturday line-up gives the new blood a chance to show what they can do, with King No One headlining the main stage, plus a whole day and night of bands, DJs, live art and more.

If you want a taste of what to expect, here’s a video playlist of some of those 200+ acts.


Yum! Festival of Food and Drink

From Friday 10 August to Sunday 12 August 2018. Queens Gardens, Hull city centre. Free entry.

Three days of foodie heaven, with plenty of local produce, street food and free family entertainment to tuck into.


Hull Skateboard Festival

Until Saturday 25 August 2018. Various venues. Free.

Free skateboard sessions, culminating in a festival finale. Completely free and equipment is provided.


Freedom Festival

From Friday 31 August to Sunday 2 September. City centre. Mostly free.

The really big one. If you only do one festival in Hull this year, make it the Freedom Festival. The jewel in Hull’s cultural crown has a three-day programme as diverse as late 1980s hip-hop outfit Jungle Brothers (ask your parents, kids), jaw-dropping circus, a talk by a descendant of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and The Museum of the Moon – a 23ft sculpture of the moon that will shine from the heavens at Hull Minster (thankfully, said moon is now reunited with its maker, following a slight blip). Freedom Festival was launched in 2007 to commemorate anti-slavery pioneer William Wilberforce and has since established itself as a world-class annual outdoor arts festival.

Mikey Martins, artistic director and joint CEO of Freedom Festival Arts Trust describes this year’s Freedom Festival programme as “beautiful, hopeful and wonderful … we’ll continue to bring the city to life with incredible street theatre, dance and circus”.


Cheese Fest Hull

Saturday 8 September, 2018. Bonus Arena, Myton Road, Hull. From £5, plus booking fee.

A festival of cheese in Hull’s newest venue. Mmm, cheese. Amazing. There will also be a bar and live music.


British Science Festival

From Tuesday 11 September to Friday 14 September 2018. Various venues. Free entry, booking required for some events

If you’ve ever wondered about the science of beer, artificial intelligence, the secrets of human attraction, or why the world needs a vagina museum, you’re in the right place. At this year’s British Science Festival, quirky events sit alongside discussions about hard-hitting issues – from suicide to modern slavery. There will also be a science takeover at Ferens Art Gallery, and showcases for Hull and the Humber region’s areas of research excellence – energy, the environment, freedom, and healthcare.

This is brilliant British science, presented at its best through discussions, demonstrations and art installations by The British Science Association and our friends at the University of Hull. Mind-blowing stuff.


Heads Up

From Wednesday 12 September to Saturday 22 September, 2018. Various venues and ticket prices

This twice-yearly theatre festival has a reputation for putting on shows with a difference. They’ll make you laugh, make you cry, make you think … they might even make you a part of the show.

September’s performances include: Pale Blue Dot by Hull playwright Dave Windass, a secret arts event hosted by What Is Collective, Foreign Radical – an interactive theatrical game that the audience members become a part of – and Ground Control a show for seven to 12-year-olds that children are guaranteed to love, not least because there are no adults allowed.