The Awakening: Internationally renowned installations revealed

The Awakening is returning to Hull in 2023, bringing a new perspective to our maritime identity. This week, the team is revealing more information about the artists coming to Hull as part of the event.

Unfurl, Air Giants Timber 2022 © Andrew Allcock. Caption: Unfurl is a garden like no other. Nature, art and technology have combined to create something spectacular.

Freedom Festival Arts Trust has curated a creative programme of installation and performance which highlights the city’s relationship with nature, the changing of the seasons and folkloric traditions. In partnership with Hull City Council and supported by Hull Maritime and the Heritage Action Zone, focus is drawn to historic parts of the city centre around Queens Gardens, Whitefriargate, Ferens Art Gallery, Trinity Square and Zebedee’s Yard.

Audiences can wander into the city centre to enjoy an awe-inspiring experience on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 March from 6pm-8pm. All the way from Australia, company Parer Studio and Artist Amanda Parer, a (literally) big highlight of the evening will be experiencing Intrude, a family of giant bunnies who will take over the Rose Bowl. Looking across to Queens Gardens, witness Nature Nocturnal, a kaleidoscope of colour as we see the natural world at night through beautiful glowing and twinkling lanterns created by Liverpool’s Lantern Company. These works bring a new lens on this space of maritime history, which had transitioned from town dock to green space in 1935, and are the last events in the calendar before it undergoes major works.

Mikey Martins, CEO & Artistic Director at Freedom Festival Arts Trust, said: “The Awakening aims to bring new perspectives to our wonderful maritime identity by uncovering themes through the creative programme. The installations and performances will focus on the city’s relationship with nature, the changing of the seasons and folkloric traditions.

“So, make your Fox Masks, pop them on, let’s celebrate the end of winter together and create a new annual tradition for Hull.”

Moving down past Whitefriargate, throughout the night at various times, audiences will be treated to sound and visual performance from four companies including local artist Andy Train, alongside the popular Worldbeaters’ Spark! Drummers and An Act Above’s Lightwalkers, and returning favourite from last year, Sound Intervention’s Projector Bikes.

At Zebedee’s Yard, meet Unfurl, the world’s largest and softest robots, a garden like no other where nature, art and technology combine. And wander down Posterngate to come play in Trinity Square, filled with light, sound and interactive games by French company Groupe LAPS.

Just like last year, many local businesses will be opening their doors later than usually to celebrate the event and accommodate visitors. Some venues will be offering refreshments and their own entertainment, and others are hosting special events as part of The Awakening programme. Ferens Art Gallery will be opening their spaces later the usual and are offering another chance to see the fascinating film and music projection piece, RE:SCORE by The Broken Orchestra (a favourite from last year) in their studio space, as well as a brand new unique immersive music performance called Riparian on Saturday 18 March at 8pm.

Councillor Mike Ross, Leader of Hull City Council, said: “This exciting programme is an invitation for everyone to come together and enjoy this spectacle across the city centre, celebrating the change in seasons from winter to spring and our maritime links.

“The line-up of international installations and performers is world-class, and I am sure people will be inspired by this spring festival as well as appreciate our wonderful spaces, art gallery and collections.”

There will be plenty to see and experience at this year’s Awakening. A digital copy of the on-site guide and the #FreedomFox mask pack is now available on their website, and you can expect more resources and information coming out this week. (