What's On

Freedom Festival 2018

31 Aug - 2 Sep 2018

Family Friendly

On Friday 31 August 2018 Hull will come alive for a weekend of wonder with events and shows for the whole family to enjoy. Explore the streets and see what you find as this year’s three-day festival programme celebrates and explores the themes of empowerment, the importance of activism and the potential of community. All of which is artistically woven together through street theatre, dance and acrobatics alongside a community feast, debates, exhibitions and participatory projects.

Freedom Festival was launched in 2007 to commemorate anti-slavery pioneer William Wilberforce and has since established itself as the city’s annual festival celebrating creative expression and community.

More than a decade later, it continues to be the jewel in Hull’s cultural crown, with last year’s Freedom Festival hailed as the best and most diverse to date. Freedom Festival 2018 marks the 11th anniversary of the Hull festival and organisers have unveiled a truly beautiful and mesmerising line-up.



Join us on Freedom Festival Friday for RISE!, a very special, one-off show by L’Homme Doubut, especially adapted for Freedom Festival 2018. The large-scale processional performance will celebrate local and global stories of women, struggle and empowerment as we welcome a very special giant visitor to Hull.

Look up and be enthralled by the multimedia aerial spectacle Substratum. Combining acrobatics and vertical dance and 3D projection, Full Tilt take to the air and perform on the side of one of the city’s tallest buildings.

Circus ensemble Gravity and Other Myths will be pushed to their limits in A Simple Space, an intimate, magnetic and captivating show of breath-taking acrobatics.

In a powerful fusion of dance and circus that pushes the limits of both art forms, two Freedom Festival favourites, No Fit State Circus and Motion House Dance Company, return with their extraordinary collaboration, Block, using daring physicality, split-second timing and thrilling feats.

If you think you know juggling, think again. At the forefront of British circus’ quiet revolution, award-winning company Gandini Juggling continues to reinvent and reinvigorate circus with Smashed, a show like no other.

Walk in the shadow of the moon and take a moment to pause for thought in the mesmerising stillness of Museum of the Moon. A fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound, this new touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram is an awe-inspiring installation not to be missed at the beautiful Hull Minster.

Acclaimed international street theatre company Adhok will take you on a journey that explores the younger generation’s challenges as they transition into adulthood. With the joyful optimism of youth, Immortel – L’Envol is funny and poignant.

If you missed it last year, do not miss the chance to experience Hull’s very own Middlechild, who will be bringing their award-winning show All We Ever Wanted Was Everything back to the city after a hugely successful Edinburgh Fringe in 2017.

Mikey said: “This year’s festival is going to be a spectacular weekend, with huge new shows and more than 100 events taking place throughout the festival with performances, workshops and talks, not to mention great food and a great atmosphere.

“The festival feeling is infectious and brings the city to life. Wander through the city centre and marvel at what’s around the corner, you just never know what you’ll find. We want people to explore and stumble across something surprising.”


To commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the female vote, Freedom Festival 2018 will explore change, struggle, equality and empowerment with spectacular shows, exhibitions and inspirational speakers.

In partnership with the Wilberforce Lecture Trust, Freedom Festival will welcome Dr Helen Pankhurst, women’s rights activist and great-granddaughter of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, as the guest for this year’s Wilberforce Lecture. Helen will lead a participatory discussion on women’s lives, reflecting on the changes in the UK since the right to a parliamentary vote first granted to some women in 1918.

Building on the success of last year’s Freedom Talks, in partnership with the University of Hull, the festival’s debates and talks programme has been expanded for 2018 and will explore themes of freedom, equality, alternative futures and activism, and will ask the question, what does freedom mean to you?

Hear from many experts exploring issues of empowerment, alternative economic models, extra-terrestrial life and justice. Be part of the conversation, ask questions and join the debates.

Jenny Howard-Coombes, said: “One of the things the festival will be talking about this year is empowerment and if it inspires anyone, it’s working. Freedom Festival offers incredible possibilities and is a great platform for conversation as thousands of people come out into the city together.”


Join in a gastronomic event like no other as Freedom Feastival, Hull’s biggest, homegrown community feast returns for its second year. Following its debut at last year’s Freedom Festival.


From homegrown musical talent to legendary New York hip hop bands, it would not be Freedom Festival without the music. Showcasing the best of local talent to upcoming international artists, this year’s music offering includes Hull’s very own 16-year-old musical prodigy Yasmin Coe, who first play at the festival in 2014. Following sell-out shows in London, Hull gets lucky the Daft Punk Orchestra rework the music of the electronic duo, Daft Punk.

Freedom Festival 2018 is generously sponsored by: Cranswick, Smith and Nephew, Hull College, KCOM, University of Hull, Wykeland, Keepmoat Homes, Coletta and Tyson, RSM, William Jackson Food Group, ABP and Rollits.

A weekend of wonder most certainly awaits so join us to hear perspectives, be part of the debate, be challenged and have a voice. It’s going to be pretty special.