Freedom to enjoy street spectacles and puppet parades in Hull

Giant puppets, circus as you have never seen it before, and a chance to be part of a “human tower” are all set to bring the streets and venues of Hull city centre alive with theatre, song and dance this summer.

Hull’s flagship cultural event, the Freedom Festival, returns to the city with a nine-day programme of events from local, national and international acts, 26 August – 4 September.

From epic performances unfolding on the streets, to intimate moments where audiences and artists meet, this award-winning international arts festival aims to present thought-provoking, playful, and powerful performances that address the world we live in.

Celebrating the concept of freedom through artistic and cultural expression, the festival’s roots go back to 2007 when the city celebrated one of its most famous sons, William Wilberforce and the 200th anniversary of his Act of Parliament, which abolished the slave trade in the British Empire.

Now back for its 15th year, it will again take place in galleries, museums, theatres, and public spaces across the city – with this year seeing the return of large-scale spectacles.

As usual, most events are free, although some require advance booking, and among 2022’s highlights will be MO and the Red Ribbon (2 September), a one-off show that brings back the type of grand event that audiences have come to expect as part of Hull’s annual festival.

In line with the giant spectacles of previous years, visitors can expect to be blown away as they follow MO through the streets of the city alongside pyrotechnics, puppetry, spectacular displays and plenty more besides.

For an unusual circus show, award-winning Australian heavyweights Gravity & Other Myths bring Backbone to the Hull New Theatre (26 – 27 August, tickets: £15-£20). They wowed Freedom Festival audiences in 2017 with their first show A Simple Space and have gone on to become one of the world’s most sought-after international contemporary circus companies.

France’s renowned contemporary and street dance company, Cie Dyptik, aims to wow audiences with its world class Mirage in Zebedee’s Yard (2-4 September), a 360° dance performance viewed in the round. And Catalan company Tombs Creatius will give audiences the chance to be part of a “human tower”. Bringing fun and games back to the streets, they will transform Trinity Square and Nelson Street Pier into extraordinary playgrounds (31 August – 4 September). Building human towers, called “castells”, is a Catalan tradition and Tombs Creatius uses this as an inspiration to build epic wooden constructions, and then challenge people of all ages to games of wit, bringing the wooden toys to life through play.

Throughout the festival colourful audio-visual sensory experiences will pop up across the city. Portal: A Journey Through Colour, being staged in Humber Street, (26 August – 4 September), involves a paper wave of colour, lights and sound, and is an intriguing offering from one of Hull’s hidden business gems, specialist fine paper company G.F. Smith, based in the city, but with a global reach.

Combining sculpture and digital technology, Sirens in the Museum Gardens and at the Tidal Barrier (26 August – 4 September), is an interactive audio-visual experience examining representations of women in global society through the lens of ancient mythology.

For the full programme, visit

For places to stay and visitor information,