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Freedom Festival 2021: A guide to this year’s line-up



From Friday 20 August, Hull will once again be able to delight in the joy that Freedom Festival brings to our City. Circus, dance, theatre, film, audio walks and adventures, interactive digital installations, exhibitions, talks and online events and content will engage all ages across the extended 16 day Festival.  

The majority of live events are free but ticketed to manage capacity and ensure the comfort and safety of our audience and teams.  

It has also been announced today that the University of Hull is the principal partner for 2021.

Tickets for all remaining events will be available from their website ( from 10am on Saturday 7 August.

Starting on 20 August and running throughout the festival until 5 September: 

squidsoup: Where There is Light. For the first time, Freedom Festival is presenting work in Ferens Art Gallery with this stunning sound and light installation sharing the voices and stories of sanctuary seeking communities from across the country. 

Mark Copeland: 21 Remarkable People and several others of passing interest. Come with us on a guided tour around a pop-up gallery that has bizarrely appeared in the closed Hull Maritime Museum! 

Luke Jerram: Gaia. Tickets have flown out for this installation at Hull Minster,  since they were released and in response we are adding new time-slots and capacity, so if you missed out on the date you wanted please check back.

Our Stage@TheDock programme this year spans 3 weekends and includes:

Gandini Juggling: Smashed2.  After their successful appearance at Freedom Festival in 2018 they return with 80 oranges, 7 watermelons and 9 performers!

Jon Hicks: The Visionary. Straddling the boundary between reality and performance, an, outsider, a street speaker sows confusion and uncertainty. Incorporating social satire, comedy, illusions and mayhem.

2 Faced Dance: Power and Tribe; Still I Rise. 2 modern dance company’s with exhilarating pieces of work looking at authority, power and though we may fall, we rise again.

15ft6: League & Legend. The multi-talented Belgian based circus collective taking it to the pitch. Armed with pole vault poles and tape, watch them beat every record on their way to the top of the league.

Moon: Presented by George Orange. An eccentric clown and slack – rope dancer from Chicago. A show of comedy, circuis routines, contotionism and bottle balancing

As we navigate new ways experiencing culture alone or in social bubbles, we bring you a number of audio experiences for individuals and small groups:    

Duncan Speakman: Only Expansion. An award-winning audio tour that remixes the sound of the city around you to create and experience of how your own life might change in the future.

Blast Theory: Rider Spoke. You are invited to cycle alone, in the evening,  on a ride in search of the perfect place to hide a secret. 

600 Highwaymen: A Thousand Ways Part One. Pick up the phone. Someone is on the line. You don’t know their name, and you still won’t when the hour is over, but through this exchange – as you follow a thread of automated prompts – a portrait of your partner will emerge through fleeting moments of exposure. 

Aria Entertainment and WEF Productions: C-O-N-T-A-C-T.  Following sold out runs in London and Manchester meet a young woman sitting alone on a park bench, lost in her own thoughts. What is she thinking? Dive into her mind in this inspired sensory and immersive theatre experience.

The Herd: Hidden Winter. An exciting, story-walk adventure co-created with young sanctuary seekers in Bradford, made for children everywhere and their grownups. Pop on your headphones, and head off on a very special stroll around your local park rediscovering the magic of your surroundings.

Ithaca: 5000 Miles. An immersive 360-degree audio experience that transports you to another place through the evocative sounds of another country and culture.

Installations, events and exhibitions include:

Marco Barotti: The Woodpeckers. In Trinity Square and the City Centre watch these mechanical marvels transform in real time the invisible radiations used for mobile communication and wireless technology into audible and visible drumming patterns creating a live soundscape which resonates as an invading drum ensemble into urban and natural environments. 

Yara + Davina: Arrivals + Departures.  A public artwork about birth, death and the journey in between at Beverley Gate. The public are invited to share the names of those who have arrived and departed, on live boards, as a way to acknowledge, celebrate and commemorate.

Strange Brew Collective: Bloom. Local artists Skeg, Mike Sprout and Mr Joe Johnson form work together in a way that doesn’t need words, they are all dancing to the same rhythm and their work is very similar in style and energy.

Dean Wilson: A double dose of Dean. With the Dean Wilson Cinema Shack popping up at Trinity Market for the whole Festival and the Gala Premiere of Dean World on 27 and 28 August with 2 paid ticketed events at Wrecking Ball Music and Books.

Digital Atmosphere – A mixed reality sculpture from London based digital artist duo Perry-James Sugden and Daria Jelonek. The piece looks at how technology and art can illuminate the quality of our air. This installation can be seen at 17 Whitefriargate.

There are 6 paid ticketed events this year:

Daryl Beeton: A Square World. An honest, touching and quirky piece of theatre for young audiences at Hull Truck. A non verbal story, set to an original commissioned soundtrack creating an  evolving and imaginative world where we discover anything can happen once we think differently and rip up the rule book.  

Sh!t Theatre: Drink Rum with Expats. Also at Hull Truck, join the multi-award winning company bring us their unique and hilarious take on European relations.

3 special concerts held under Luke Jerram’s Gaia in Hull Minster. On consecutive Wednesday’s we’ll be presenting a series of classical concerts and on Friday 27 August, Broken Orchestra bring an evening of music and spoken word in a collaboration with poet Vicky Foster

The 7 Fingers: Passagers. As a Festival encore, Freedom Festival are co-presenting the iconic-Canadian modern circus company at Hull New Theatre on Tuesday 28 September. If you have loved any of the past international modern circus companies that we have brought to Hull, you will not want to miss this one.    

We will also be presenting along-side the live programme, a series of on-line events for you to enjoy throughout the Festival wherever you are in the world including:

Freedom Talks: including Do I Look Like A Refugee looking at the (mis)representation of refugee women in media, humanitarian discourse and society.

Avant Garde Dance Company: Illegal Dance. A film combining dynamic contemporary choreography with innovative technical stagecraft to portray the tensions in a society that pits order against chaos, security against freedom, and individualism against collective will.

Mohammed Khaled: The Last Step Before Starting. A series of short films looking at the experience of migrants from different cultures/countries who have settled in Hull.  

Freetown Media Centre: Film Labs Freedom Festival and KCOM partnered with Nova Studios, Freetown Media Centre and the British Council present a series of short exciting films from young film-makers in Hull’s partner city Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Plus the final of the British Street Food Awards with further details of this event to be released over the coming weeks, it is a packed and exhilarating programme.

Mikey Martins, Artistic Director and Joint CEO of Freedom Festival Arts Trust, said: 

‘Freedom Festival remains a festival powered by people. As an organisation we strive to be brave and innovative and we work with hugely-talented artists who have the same aims at the core of their work. We are so excited to present this expanded 16 day programme to allow as many people as possible to safely attend events that this year are taking place not just in public spaces but in our city’s venues, museums, art galleries, gardens and empty shops.

We can promise you that this year’s Festival will as ever move, entertain, delight and surprise you. There will be laugh-out-loud moments, thought-provoking performances and mischievous projects that will engage you and bring joy to the streets and venues of our city.’

Anthony Baker, Executive Director and Joint CEO of Freedom Festival Arts Trust, said: ‘We’re delighted to be able to deliver such an incredible Festival this year, thanks to our regular funders Arts Council England and Hull City Council alongside support from generous individual doners, our friends scheme and corporate partners. Hull is a city which is on the move and Freedom Festival is an illustration of the ambitions of the city and its cultural sector.

Freedom Festival and the year-long programme of the Freedom Festival Arts Trust would not be possible without the support of its sponsors and partners. This year’s festival is supported by Arts Council England, Hull City Council. Our principle partner University of Hull and our sponsors CHCP, Cranswick, RSM and Rollits’.

Anja Hazebroek Director of Marketing and Communications for the University of Hull, said: ’The University of Hull is delighted to be the principle partner for Freedom Festival this year. Both the University and Freedom Festival are passionate about Hull and supporting young people in developing their opportunities, building a better future for them and for the city. Freedom Festival is an important part of what makes our city great and attractive to students, alongside bringing major artistic work to the city for everyone to enjoy and take part in’.

Freedom Festival takes between Friday 20 August and Sunday 5 September. The majority of live events are free but ticketed to manage capacity and ensure the comfort and safety of our audience and teams. Tickets are available from Saturday 7 August at 10am from

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