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Freedom Festival 2015: Our survey said…

A new, independent study into Freedom Festival 2015 has revealed that it generated over £4 million additional expenditure in Hull this September, as the festival continues to be enjoyed by local residents and brings in more and more people from further afield.

Attended by an estimated 114,200 people (thank you!), Freedom was found to have generated ‘the feelgood factor’, bringing previously unseen entertainment to Hull within its largely free programme of more than 200 acts and attractions. The in-depth study of 500 people who attended the festival found that almost all (97%) plan to return in 2016.   

Other key findings from the report:

  • Almost everyone surveyed rated the festival highly, with 82% giving a rating of at least 7 out of 10
  • 89% of people said that the festival ‘made them feel good’
  • When asked about their favourite elements, most festivalgoers said ‘atmosphere’ and ‘people’ (‘the weather’ was the most common response when asked about the worst aspects!)
  • 93% of those surveyed said that the festival gave them the chance to experience arts and culture that they wouldn’t otherwise see
  • 88% said Freedom Festival had encouraged them to attend similar activities or events afterwards
  • Of this year’s attendees, 57% were from Hull, 29% from East Riding and 14% from further afield – similar numbers to 2014. The number of visitors from outside of Yorkshire and the Humber region continues to increase, from 2% in 2013 to 6% in 2015
  • 76% of you said you would like to see more street theatre next year

Artist’s view

Artist Greg Russian Red, co-creator of one of six new commissions that formed Humber Calling, a collection of artworks based around Hull’s famous telephone boxes, said: “We were situated in the Little Village next to the Big Top so we had people of all ages interacting with our work. The amazing response from the public brought our installation to life, which is so rewarding as an artist; Freedom feels like a completely unique event.”

This year’s event was the eighth Freedom Festival – which celebrates, through artistic and cultural expression, Hull’s contribution to the cause of freedom as the birthplace of MP William Wilberforce – and included spine-tingling performances from street theatre stars Acrojou and Periplum; show-stopping music from Public Service Broadcasting and James Taylor Quartet; family-friendly interactive art installation Tangle from Australia’s Polyglot Theatre; plus new artist commissions Humber Calling and a stunning opening night show on the River Hull, Voices of Freedom. 

Looking ahead to 2016 and beyond

The Freedom Festival team is now looking ahead to next year’s festival which is to be held on 2nd-4th September and is the first with new Chief Executive and Artistic Director Mikey Martins at the helm. Mikey said: “We’re entering an exciting new phase for the festival; we’re currently busy planning for next year and hope to reveal some initial programme news at the start of 2016.

“We always want to hear what the audience thinks of the festival. Respondents this year have told us they want to see more street theatre, more ‘spectacular’ and more art installations. We know how much people expect from the festival and we’re excited to be challenging ourselves to surpass expectation next year.”

Councillor Terry Geraghty, Hull City Council said: “As key supporters of Freedom Festival, it’s fantastic to hear how its impact continues to widen, eight years after the first event. The festival continues to provide a huge boost to Hull and has led the way in recent years – demonstrating what can be achieved and created through arts and culture – as we head towards 2017.”

Thank you

Everyone at Freedom Festival would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who attended in 2015 – we look forward to welcoming you again next time. Stay tuned for all the latest updates as we head into 2016.



The evaluation of Freedom Festival 2015 was completed by Information by Design in September 2015. The evaluation sample consisted of 502 ‘on-street’ interviews during the festival and 170 follow up telephone interviews.

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