Over three days in September 2014, over 115,000 families and friends took to Hull's historic streets to celebrate the city's independent spirit and contribution to freedom.
Freedom Festival 2014 followed a phenomenal 2013 for Hull. The festival was the pinnacle of a packed and vibrant summer events calendar; more than 80,000 people attended Freedom and experienced its rich mix of theatre, dance, music, poetry and visual arts last September. Two months later, the city was named UK City of Culture 2017.
Within an eclectic, family-friendly and largely free programme, directed and produced by our Festival Directors Walk the Plank, we once again brought renowned national and international artists to Hull, alongside leading local and regional talent.
On Friday night, a stunning light trail inspired by the late Nelson Mandela got the festival underway in style, as more than 20,000 people – double the numbers from last year’s first night - took to the city streets to enjoy Freedom’s opening ceremony. Festival-goers were led through the Long Walk to Freedom Light Trail - a collection of new art installations by local artists, reimagining Mandela's greatest moments and achievements - by street theatre performers Spark!, who brought the streets to life with music, movement and colour.
Saturday’s rain had failed to deter festival-goers from enjoying stellar performances from the likes of Roland Gift and Ruby Turner and witnessing the magic ofSpellbound, a love story inspired by the Indian epic, Ramayana, featuring a magical procession of dancers, drummers and a giant tiger before illuminating the city’s Humber Quays area with dazzling special effects and a breath-taking finale of fireworks!
Elsewhere in the city, festival-goers enjoyed performances from a range of world-class family-friendly acts including NoFit State Circus in Queens Gardens, who wowed crowds with their ‘Open House’ show, CBeebies’ story-teller Dominic Berry and wondrous children’s theatre Incredible Book Eating Boy. Local music acts rocked the brand new Bridge Stage which celebrated the city’s emerging talent, with bands including Life, Mother and Counting Coins getting the crowd jumping. Other festival highlights included cutting-edge theatre Ballad of the Burning Star, in partnership with Hull’s Heads Up Festival, performance-parkour from the Urban Playground and a storming set into the early hours of Sunday morning in the Festival Big Top from legendary DJ Keb Darge.
On Sunday, festival-goers then flocked in their thousands once more to enjoy a bigger-than-ever Sunday programme which included the joyous World of Colour community parade - attended by more than 7,000 people as it travelled through the city streets - and a festival finale performance from New York harmony group Naturally 7, whose incredible vocal skills enraptured everyone in attendance.