6 reasons Freedom Festival should be on your summer bucket list


Free and family-friendly, Freedom Festival is an award-winning arts festival in Hull that draws in crowds of people from all over the world each year… and here’s why it should be on your summer bucket list.

Photography: Tom Arran, courtesy of Freedom Festival

What started in 2007 as part of the William Wilberforce commemorations, Freedom Festival is now in its 12th year and has become one of the UK’s leading international arts festivals, bringing thought-provoking and world-class theatre, dance, music, visual art, exhibitions, debates and so much more to Hull.

And let me assure you – it makes for a bloody brilliant weekend that I utterly adore. So let me give you six reasons Freedom Festival should defnitely be on your summer bucket list…

There’s something for everyone.

Whether you’re into colourful theatre and music, thought-provoking art and discussions, breathtaking stunts, creative workshops or simply a day of people watching in the sun, Freedom Festival has something for everyone.

You’ll find family-friendly activities dotted around the city centre giving children the opportunities to express themselves through art, immersive theatre and more. For the gig-goers that love getting lost in the crowd, there’s live music from local talent throughout the day. Bars, street food and even a mass feast offer foodies a gastronomic treat. Those who prefer getting lost in stimulating debates can attend a number of challenging talks and discussions. No matter your interest, you’re guaranteed to find something to amaze and inspire you.

You’ll discover something new and learn about important topics.

Since Freedom Festival started out as a celebration of Hull-born William Wilberforce, the politician who helped lead the abolition of slavery in the UK, his legacy is carried on in the themes of activitism, community and empowerment that the festival brings. Nestled between world-class theatre, colourful spectacles and striking art, you’ll find immersive exhibitions and debates that explore current challenges and issues in a way that’s accessible for everyone.

People are out in full force with smiles across their faces.

Nothing warms the heart quite like seeing crowds of people exploring Hull with awe etched upon their faces and an almost tangible sense of pride in the air, and that’s exactly what Freedom Festival brings. Thousands upon thousands of visitors flock to Hull city centre for a weekend of enchantment, captivation and entertainment, and leave feeling moved, inspired and – sometimes – a tad tipsy and jolly. (That’s me.)

You won’t believe your eyes.

People scaling buildings, giant puppets winding their way through the streets, artists risking their lives at incredible heights, heart-stopping tricks, light shows, magical flash mobs – be prepared to catch your breath at least once over the weekend. At Freedom Festival, the whole city becomes a stage and you’re bound to stumble across something you’ve never seen before.

There’s plenty of good grub and you can get the bevvies in too.

With so much to see and an abundance to do, you’re bound to work up an appetite, and around the city centre you’ll find something to suit all tastes. Tuck into cuisines from around the world in Trinity Market, sample some traditional hearty grub in the old town pubs or try something new at the Vegan Food Market. If you’re more concerned about the drink options, fear not! You’ll find artisan coffee, good ol’ Yorkshire ales and locally brewed beer… all of which can be pretty cheap here in Hull!

It’s completely free to attend!

I know, I know. It seems too good to be true. But yes – Freedom Festival doesn’t cost a single penny to attend, and how bloody great is that?! (See – you have no excuse not to go.)

With the belief that arts and culture can change lives – a belief I strongly share – Freedom Festival is kindly funded by a number of partners in the form of the Council, local businesses, creative groups and even the general public and community. Just make sure to have some change in your pocket for that food and a cheeky beer on your way round, of course…

This year, the Freedom Festival team are really treating us and they’re extending the celebrations beyond a weekend to five days of wonder, taking place between 28 August and 1 September… and I can’t wait.

Have you visited Freedom Festival before? Will it be on your summer bucket list this year?

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