Sounds good….but what does that mean exactly?


For us, ‘Freedom’ is more than just a name. We aim to give a voice to the city’s unique identity moulded by the spirit of Wilberforce, and to make Hull a recognised home of artistic freedom.

Hull’s art, like all art, is what will promote us and show us to ourselves, both the dark side and the light. Because art is the imagination, and everything that we’ve ever built began in the imagination. Ultimately, imagination is the engine of humanity, and so a festival of the arts, like Freedom Festival, is a celebration of humanity” Lemn Sissay MBE, poet, playwright, author

We explore, and provide a platform for, local, national and international representations of freedom, independence of spirit through the pure freedom of creative expression. We will always make reference to ‘freedom’ as a concept, pushing boundaries to express it in a variety of ways through our programme.


We work closely with artists, organisations, businesses, families, individuals and community groups to create a world-class urban arts festival that offers something for everyone. We bring renowned national and international programming to our city, while always providing opportunities for supporting, showcasing and developing local and regional talent.

We constantly challenge to ourselves to seek out and work with artists who are brave enough to further explore and debate concepts of freedom, both from a historical viewpoint and also in terms of what freedom means today, in 2016 and beyond. Artists who can create impactful work, work which gets audiences talking and debating and challenging and celebrating.

New commissions feature in our programme each year; in 2015, for example, the festival featured Humber Calling, a collection of work curated by sound artist Scanner that celebrated Hull’s iconic cream phone boxes and the changing nature of broadcasting. Read more about our commissions and in-year work here.

And Lemn Sissay’s hugely powerful recital of Martin Luther King’s pivotal I Have a Dream speech was a stand-out example of articulating the concept of freedom through our programme. We were thrilled that Lemn had some great things to say about our festival.

“My performance of Martin Luther King’s speech [in 2013] was one of the most inspirational moments – no, the most inspirational moment – of my year. In that moment I was very proud to be connected, even in some small way, to Hull. Hull’s art, like all art, is what will promote us and show us to ourselves, both the dark side and the light.” Lemn Sissay MBE, poet, playwright, author