Major programme announcement for Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Hull UK City of Culture 2017 has unveiled details about seasons two and three of its year-long cultural programme with 42 new commissions and world premieres, 24 festivals and 13 new exhibitions amongst hundreds of events and activities taking place from April to the end of September 2017.

The two seasons, ‘Roots & Routes’ (April to June) and ‘Freedom’ (July to September), continue Hull 2017’s commitment to inspiring and entertaining residents and visitors alike, as well as asking questions and raising debate. From art to music, from theatre to film, and dance to family friendly activities, there is something for people of all tastes and ages, with more reason than ever to visit Hull.

The aim is to build on the success of opening season ‘Made in Hull’, which since January has drawn hundreds of thousands of people, including to the opening event, the Look Up public art installations Blade and The City Speaks, and successful exhibitions at Ferens Art Gallery, Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull and the newly opened Humber Street Gallery.

Spring and summer bring 24 festivals, from the 10th anniversary of the acclaimed Freedom festival and Humber Street Sesh to Radio 1’s Big Weekend, and Hull Jazz Festival to Tidal Waves. Fifty years after the start of decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK began, Pride in Hull stages the first ever UK Pride, kicking off week-long LGBT50 celebrations in July.

The major partnership with BBC continues, including the Uproot festival in April and Contains Strong Language, a major new national spoken word and poetry festival, launching on National Poetry Day in September.

Martin Green, Director Hull 2017 said: “The response to our opening season Made in Hull has exceeded all our expectations and as we go into seasons two and three, we want people to continue to be excited, whether they live here or are visiting. With our wonderful partners there’s a terrific line-up over the next six months. We’ve a summer of festivals and a host of new commissions by national and international artists that cement UK City of Culture as the nation’s cultural quadrennial. Get planning, it’s the perfect time to visit this great city.”

Highlights of the next two seasons include:

  • Hull New Theatre reopens following £16m transformation with a visit from The Royal Ballet led by its Hull-born director, Kevin O’Hare
  • Philip Larkin’s life and work celebrated with major exhibition New Eyes Each Year – and Grayson Perry as The Philip Larkin Society Distinguished Guest Lecturer
  • Slung Low’s year-long epic adventure Flood by James Phillips told online, live in Hull and on BBC television
  • International performance, technology and site-responsive pioneers dreamthinkspeak premiere ONE DAY, MAYBE in Hull
  • The Ferens Art Gallery hosts the Turner Prize and presents a major exhibition exploring Skin, including works by Ron Mueck, Lucian Freud and the first showing of Spencer Tunick’s photographic work featuring 3,200 local people in the nude and painted blue for Sea of Hull
  • The 10th Waterstones Children’s Laureate will be announced in Hull prior to the first ever children’s literature festival in the city
  • New work by artists including Bob & Roberta Smith, Tania Kovats, Chris Dobrowolski, Claire Barber and Claire Morgan in shopping centres, car parks, streets and public squares as part of the visual art series Look Up

Elsewhere, Hull UK City of Culture and Opera North will present The Height of the Reeds: A Sound Journey for the Humber Bridge, featuring music by Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen, guitarist Eivind Aarset and electronic wizard Jan Bang giving way to the vast sound of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North and threaded through with the deep music of the Humber Bridge itself, captured by Hull based sound artist Jez riley French. Head to the Humber Bridge, put on a set of supplied headphones and disappear into a sound adventure, walking the epic span of the Bridge, with a world of sound in your ears (1 – 30 April).

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend (27 – 28 May) is set to be one of the musical highlights of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 when it comes to Burton Constable in East Yorkshire. Kings of Leon, Little Mix and Stormzy have already been announced, with more names to be revealed.

Freedom Festival (1 – 3 September) goes from strength to strength and this year celebrates its tenth anniversary with a huge programme over three days. Played out on city centre streets, with Hull’s architecture and heritage as the stage, Freedom Festival is not afraid to push boundaries with art and themes of freedom. More than 200 artists from over 30 countries will be performing alongside local talent. They include: a new visual arts commission from Brazilian sculptor Néle Azevedo exploring modern day slavery; the UK premiere of Cie Bistaki’s The Baïna Trampa Fritz Fallen; Counting Sheep, starring The Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Canada’s only balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-super-band and one of the smash hits of last year’s Edinburgh fringe festival; an extraordinary dance work from Catalan heavyweights Lali Ayguade Company; The Dandy Lion Project, a photography exhibition that explores global expressions of the Black Dandy;. a new show from Newcastle’s brilliant dance company Southpaw. This is just a taste: the Freedom Festival team will be revealing full programme details for this year’s milestone event in due course.

Look Up, the year-long programme of temporary artworks has placed Blade by Nayan Kulkarni and The City Speaks by Michael Pinsky, interrupting the city’s public spaces. The next commissioned works will appear in shopping centres, car parks, streets and public squares Artists include Bob & Roberta Smith, Tania Kovats, Chris Dobrowolski and Claire Morgan. Two of the co-commissions with The Deep: Chris Dobrowolski’s work (March to May) will look at environmental concerns around plastics and our oceans; and in August, Tania Kovats, working closely with The Deep’s staff, will create a large scale sculptural work, BLEACHED, which responds to the beauty of coral and its fragile position in the ecosystem.

As well as playing host to the world’s greatest contemporary arts prize, the Turner Prize (26 September – 7 January 2018), The Ferens Art Gallery follows its acclaimed reopening with a major new exhibition, SKIN, which opens in April and explores the human body and how artists have depicted the nude form, including Ron Mueck, Lucian Freud and Édouard Manet. Features the much-anticipated photographic work by Spencer Tunick, created last year when 3,200 people stripped and were painted in shades of blue for Sea of Hull (22 April – 13 August).

Each year the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery commission a portrait from the winner of the BP Portrait Award resulting in a selection of portraits of some of Britain’s best known cultural figures. The exhibition represents the diversity, creativity and vision of a group of people who have shaped Britain today, and the best in contemporary portraiture. The exhibition at Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull features portraits of public figures, including JK Rowling, Paul Smith, Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren and many more. Artists include Richard Towse and Stuart Pearson Wright (29 March – 11 June).

The next major installation at Hull Maritime Museum be The Weeping Window from 24 March. By artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper and part of 14-18 NOW, the arts programme for the First World War Centenary, it is made up of several thousand handmade ceramic poppies from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red that drew thousands of visitors to the Tower of London in 2014. A Cabinet of Curiosities draws on the comedy writing talents of youngsters from ten schools in Hull, who will mix factual and imagined interpretation to create an ‘openly populist’ and ‘light-hearted’ feel with the help from Britain’s best loved comedian Bill Bailey will help curate this curious collection of Hull’s history (27 May – 10 September). A Common Foe (15 July – 24 September) will explore how Iceland and the UK have helped each in adversity at sea, as well as confronting each other over fishing rights.

BP Big Screens is also coming to Hull, bringing free opera and ballet outdoors on the big screen. People are encouraged to come with friends, family and a picnic for the three screenings in Zebedee’s Yard. Being shown are a triple bill of the Royal Ballet’s The Dream/Symphonic Variations/Marguerite and Armand, Verdi’s tragic La traviata and Puccini’s spectacular Turandot (7 June, 4 and 14 July).

Hull will be at the forefront of national events to mark 50 years since the start of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. Hull 2017 is joining forces with Pride in Hull and the iconoclastic queer collective Duckie to create LGBT 50 (22 – 29 July). Pride in Hull will kick off a week of events, hosting the first ever UK Pride on the opening Saturday, including a new route for the annual parade, which will finish in Queens Gardens. Throughout the week there will be exhibitions, socials, films, debates and more. The biggest celebration of LGBT+ culture in the region will culminate on the second Saturday with a very special Duckie Summer Tea Party in Queen Victoria Square and the opportunity to be part of a specially commissioned Yorkshire Dance production by choreographer Gary Clark. Everyone is invited to one of the highlights of the summer.

For further details, and to see the full programme for the next two seasons, visit

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