Freedom Festival Kicks off with a jam-packed opening weekend this bank holiday

With nine days of Freedom Festival in 2022, there is so much to explore and enjoy every day from 26 August to 4 September. For those eager to get the most out of the festival this year, it is a must to catch the launch weekend events.

Audiences should take note that although there are exhibitions and events which start on 26 or 27 August which continue throughout the full festival, such as Joanna Dudley’s UK premiere of her multimedia exhibition We Will Slam You With Our Wings at Ferens Art Gallery, however, there are also performances which only feature in the starting weekend of the festival. Shows such as the incredible Backbone by Gravity and Other Myths at Hull New Theatre, RESONANCE by Stewart Baxter and Middle Child Theatre’s There Should Be Unicorns kick-off as must-see performances of music, circus and theatre.

Kick-starting the festival with three spectacular shows on Friday night and Saturday for a matinee and evening performance is the incredible Gravity and Other Myths at Hull New Theatre. Their show Backbone has been performed over 300 times at festivals and theatres across 23 countries.

Those of you who have explored circus at Freedom Festival will know that they hand select only the best of the best, and this show is one that will truly blow you away. After opening Edinburgh International Festival, they are back in Hull for the first time since 2018. This is circus as you’ve never seen it before, pushed to its conceptual and cerebral limits.

Next on your list moving into two shows each day Saturday and Sunday this weekend is local theatre company Middle Child Theatre with their inspiring family-friendly musical There Should Be Unicorns at Stage@theDock. After their debut performances selling out all seats earlier this year in Hull, the show has toured around outdoor arts festivals across the UK from Brighton to Manchester, delighting audiences of all ages. In association with Beats Bus, hip-hop, dance and theatre collide in this brilliant outdoor show. No pre-booking required – just turn up on the day!

And the third first-weekend-only performance is RESONANCE by Stewart Baxter, Mark Slater & Stephanie Halsey. Performing at the Tidal Barrier on Saturday evening, RESONANCE is a musical audio experience of ambient and meditative soundscapes bringing together found sound gathered from around Hull. First premiered at Rooted in Hull back in June this year, the show was a hit with those who saw it and is reappearing as part of Freedom Festival. RESONANCE will feature Hull field recordings played at random alongside pre-recorded piano loops to create an immersive quad-speaker surround-scape with live guitar, piano and harp improvisation. This show doesn’t require tickets but happens only once, so don’t miss out!

Finally, Fast Food Megaverse is an epic celebration of young imaginations. Starting at Princes Quay’s East Arcade and brought to you by critically acclaimed local theatre company, The Herd, the show is written in collaboration with children from Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University’s Letterbox Club. Put on headphones, grab a map and join Mo on an adventure through the multiverse. Although this event does carry on throughout the 9-days, this is not one to miss this bank holiday. This show is free however attendees will need to reserve a slot with a small refundable deposit online due to limited capacity and equipment hire.

Remember while you’re out visiting the first weekend of performances, there’s an offering of local and global installations and exhibitions popping up in local spaces throughout the city centre, as well as the return of Good Things Market on Sunday in Fruit Market. Visit the Freedom Festival website to find out what to visit in the first weekend.

Hull’s long-running Arts Festival has flooded the city with thought-provoking and entertaining arts and culture for 16 years. Founded in Hull, it is named after the city’s association with the abolition of the slave trade as well as other activism on important issues in today’s world. The festival has been known for bringing the best cultural offerings locally, nationally and internationally through all sizes of performances and exhibitions, from spectacular large-scale to reflective and intimate. In 2022 Freedom Festival takes place over 9 days from 26th August, culminating in a jam-packed weekend from 2nd – 4th September based over four zones, around Hull’s theatres, Princes Dock Street, Old Town and Fruit Market. The full programme is available at and you can join the team on social media (@freedomfesthull) to keep updated with the latest news and announcements leading up to and during the festival. Free printed festival guides will be available from various locations including Hull New Theatre and the information stand in Hull Interchange from 12th August.