The 2022 programme is here! We’re delighted to reveal details of hundreds of events taking place 10-19 November, as part of this year’s Being Human festival. Being Human is a nationwide celebration of the humanities, showcasing the ways in which subjects like history, philosophy and literature inspire and enrich our everyday lives.
Following two years of largely digital and online activity, event organisers are returning to museums, galleries, community centres, libraries, shopping centres, bookshops, cafes, outdoor spaces and high streets, to bring research to life in events including walking tours, museum takeovers, hands-on workshops, interactive exhibitions and discussions and debates.
Festival Director and Chair in Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London, Professor Sarah Churchwell said: “This year’s festival looks set to be more exciting, eclectic and energising than ever. Whether you want to write about birds, interact with Ukrainian poets, or build Hadrian’s Wall out of Lego, you will find something that stimulates your senses – and sensibilities.
“The humanities are the very essence of what it is to be human: storytelling, mythmaking, swapping ideas and immersing ourselves in languages. Without the humanities there would be no creativity, no culture, no joy. I would encourage everyone to get involved, find an event that suits them, and celebrate that most remarkable thing: Being Human.”
Women’s history is a big theme at this year’s festival, with Robert Gordon University’s Festival Hub centring around raising public awareness and breaking through the silence around women’s contributions to the culture, history and heritage of North-East Scotland, through the ‘Quinepedia’ project (quines: Doric for woman). Swansea University will also be celebrating ‘Breakthrough Welsh Women’, looking at overlooked figures from across South Wales. The University of Dundee will be celebrating the pioneering women of Science Fiction, and a group of researchers will come together in London to discuss the current crisis in women’s reproductive health.
LGBTQ+ lives are being celebrated with The National Archives delving into the 1921 census to gain insight into queer life 100 years ago, the University of Glasgow stitching together stories of LGBTQ+ community in Glasgow, and National Museum Wales will be exploring Welsh queer history, representation and belonging at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea.
Our love of books and literature is being explored at events including literary breakthroughs in Coventry, Warwickshire and the Midlands from J.R.R. Tolkien to George Eliot; a behind-the-scenes look at The John Rylands Library in Manchester; DIY publishing and activism in East London; and how places shape our taste in books, at an event taking place in the Black Country.
Events are all designed to showcase the importance and relevance of a wide range of humanities research to our everyday lives, from heritage and culture to the climate crisis. Browse events by subject.
Workshops, tours, online events and more
Creative hands-on workshops at this year’s festival include opportunities to create zines, recreate Hadrian’s wall out of LEGO, grind pigments and make paint to create a medieval manuscript, build a mushroom forest, photograph Sheffield, create board games inspired by Glasgow’s history, create comics, try watercolour painting inspired by South African Modernism, and bind and decorate books. Browse all workshops.
If you fancy heading outdoors, wrap up warm and join a festival walking tour, including walking and photography in the Scottish Highlands, a wellbeing walk in Wolverhampton, a creative writing “walkshop” in Folkestone, an historic tour around the city streets of Leicester, a climate-themed walk along the hidden river Fleet in London, a tour steeped in Jewish history around Llandudno, and much more! Browse all walks and tours.
And if you want to join in from home, head online to hear from poets in Ukraine, help crack the Dickens Code, listen to gothic stories and more – browse all online events.
Other creative events at this year's festival include performances, exhibitions and installations, debates and discussions, and museum and gallery takeovers.
Anniversaries being explored at this year's festival include the 260th anniversary of the publication of James Macpherson’s Ossianic poetry, being highlighted by the University of the Highlands and Islands; the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall, being celebrated in Northumbria University's Festival Hub programme; and the centenary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, being explored at the ‘Pharaoh Friday!’ Museum Late at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and ‘Tutankhamun’s Treasures’ at the Oriental Museum in Durham.
Elsewhere, Lewis Latimer, the often-overlooked inventor of the lightbulb filament, will be celebrated via an exhibition and activities at the Black Cultural Archives in South London. In Southport, the inner workings of the human imagination will be investigated at ‘Ganzflicker: Art, Science and Psychedelic Experience’ taking place at The Atkinson. And in Norwich, a museum late at the Sainsbury Centre, curated by artist Harold Offeh, will look at Afrofuturism and Ancient Egypt.
Find out more
There’s lots to learn, see and do at this year’s festival, and something for all ages and interests. All festival events are free, and some events require booking.