Derby Festé is back for 2021

One of the UK’s top street-fest events, Derby Festé, which has earned a reputation for bringing something new to the city each year, is back for 2021.

While there will be no large-scale event to ensure everyone can enjoy the festival in a Covid-safe and responsible way, the highlight of the city’s calendar returns on 24 and 25 September with a packed line-up.

Featuring a host of world-acclaimed and up and coming UK and international artists, Festé will see the city centre streets come to life with contemporary and unique music, dance, and street theatre performances.

Although the event may look a little different, organisers are confident that Derby Festé’s famous vibrant, family-friendly atmosphere will return – bringing local communities back together and attracting visitors from further afield.

A carefully curated programme will see Derby’s streets come alive with everything from hip hop dance theatre to a monumental installation of giant kinetic sculptures, with spinning sound machines and colourful lights.

Add to the mix street theatre choreography involving nine men running through the city, and a sci-fi dance show performed in a 40-foot haulage truck, and Derby looks set for a showstopping weekend.

Making a welcome return, the festival launches on the evening of Friday 24 September before continuing throughout the day and early evening on the Saturday.

Among highlights – and helping launch the 2021 Festé – will be Chorus, a new installation from Ray Lee, an award-winning artist and British Composer of the Year, who is renowned for spectacular sound art works.

His latest piece is a series of giant metal tripods supporting rotating arms that tower above the audience. At the end of each arm, loudspeakers emit precisely tuned musical pitches, while tiny lights create the effect of planets in motion (Friday, 7pm, 8pm & 9pm, at Cathedral Green).

Also on the Friday, Joseph Toonga, who works at the forefront of Hip Hop in the UK and internationally, brings Born to Protest to Derby’s streets, the first outdoor work for his company Just Us Dance Theatre, and part of a Hip Hop dance theatre trilogy he is creating to highlight black excellence and challenge racial stigma (5:30pm at The Spot and 7:30pm at Cathedral Green).

On the Saturday Choreography for the Running Male features nine male performers clad in uniforms running through the city centre, while carrying out a series of unlikely actions, aiming to ‘transform expectations of male, group behaviour into something quite harmless and unexpected’.

For something completely different, Future Cargo – the latest outdoor work by Frauke Requardt & David Rosenberg – starts with a truck arriving from an unknown location loaded with a mystery shipment. The sci-fi dance show is performed in the truck with the audience wearing headphones (6:30pm and 8:30pm, Cathedral Square, tickets £5 adults and £3 for under 12s.)

This year’s Festé also features a photography Exhibition by Camilla Greenwell at Derby’s Déda. A photographer with a Fine Art and performance background, who is based in London and works internationally, the exhibition will bring together different strands of Camilla’s practice, from black and white photographs of dancers in rehearsals to images captured away from the theatre, outside or in people’s homes.

As part of Derby Feste, the city will also be lit up with neon and LED installations from artist Tim Etchells, whose works have been displayed from Berlin to New York. Neons: Tim Etchells can be seen in public spaces around Derby until January 2022.

On Friday evening, to coincide with Festé, Derby Cathedral will stay open until 9.30pm for an evening of choral music, heritage and culture, offering a chance for visitors to see the Cathedral as it moves from daylight to dusk. As well as being able to listen to a live rehearsal by the Voluntary Choir between 7.30 pm and 9 pm, a limited number of Tower Tours will also be available, priced at £7 per person (booking advisable).

And the city’s new Museum of Making – a contemporary space telling Derby’s 300-year history of making – as well as Derby Museum Art Gallery will also both have special late opening hours on the Friday, from 7.30pm until 10pm.

Most events are free, check website for full details and any booking information:

For more information about visiting Derby, see

Photo: Chorus -Ray Lee