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Past festivals

Being Human festival was founded in 2014 with the aim of highlighting an alternative vision of the humanities. Since then, the festival has drawn together the most exciting and inspiring work in the humanities research field to present thousands of creative and collaborative public events that inspire, inform and extend our contemporary thinking and imagination. Browse some of our previous festival programmes below.

BH - In this section

Celebrating the first five years of the Being Human festival

Past festivals

2020: New Worlds

The 2020 festival explored the timely theme of ‘New Worlds’. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a largely online and digital festival took place led by organisers across the UK and beyond.

Festival launch film

At a glance

2019: Discoveries and Secrets

The 2019 festival took on the theme of 'Discoveries and Secrets' and was jam-packed with free public events. From LGBTQ+ histories and Moroccan hip hop, to renaissance dreaming and historical beauty secrets, thousands of people across the country discovered something new.

Festival programme

2018: Origins and Endings

The 2018 festival explored the theme of 'origins and endings', tapping into the fundamentals of what it means to be human, from birth and death to the origins and endings of what humans create: societies, empires, languages, stories and cultures. Over 20,000 people attended hundreds of events taking place in 50 towns and countries. There were also international events in Paris and Rome and for the first year ever there were two international hubs at Melbourne University in Australia and Princeton University in the US.

Festival programme

2017: Lost and Found

Being Human 2017 was based on the theme 'lost and found' and included over 300 fantastic events across the UK. Highlights included an event on the revival of British wrestling (complete with wrestling matches) by De Montfort University and an exploration of black British music heritage by the University of Westminster. In 2017 Being Human also went international with a series of preview events taking place in Melbourne, Singapore and Rome, as well as a special Paris event during the festival itself.

Festival programme

Festival film

2016: Hope and Fear

For Being Human 2016, 71 universities organised over 250 events which responded to the festival theme 'hope and fear'. These events took place across 45 cities and towns and were run in partnership with 221 cultural and community groups. There were also Being Human hubs in London, Dundee, Swansea, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham and Exeter. Hub activities included a 'Martian autopsy' at Dundee and an exploration of 'dreams, demons and discovery' at Swansea.

Festival programme

2015: Cities and Citizens

There were over 250 free events during the 11 days of Being Human 2015. Highlights included University of Nottingham's comedy event exploring the life of modern day chickens, which was reported by the New York Times, and a zombie walk to remember Mary Shelley led by the the University of Dundee, which was reported by The Times with the headline 'Academics walk with zombies to prove the worth of humanities'.

Festival programme

Festival film

2014

2014 was the first national festival of the humanities and included over 160 events. Activities took place all around the country from the Orkney Islands to Truro, and Belfast to East Anglia. Highlights included a project called 'Rethinking the senses' that held taste experiments at the Science Museum, London, and a Victorian lantern slide performance with musical accompaniment at the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford.

Festival film