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2023 programme revealed!

We’re delighted to reveal the programme of over 220 events taking place as part of this year’s Being Human Festival, running from 9 to 18 November 2023. Read on for more information about this year's festival, and to discover some highlights from the programme. 

We’re delighted to reveal the programme of over 220 events taking place as part of this year’s Being Human Festival, running from 9 to 18 November 2023. 

Being Human offers the public an opportunity to discover, enjoy and learn more about the research happening in our local universities and research organisations, with events being taken off campus and brought to life in our parks and gardens, high streets and shopping centres, pubs and cafes, museums and galleries, libraries and community centres, theatres and cinemas and more! This year 64 universities and research organisations are participating in our national celebration of humanities research, in collaboration with hundreds of community and cultural partner organisations. 

Whether you’re interested in ancient history or artificial intelligence, there’s something for everyone in this year’s festival programme, including family and school events, and a range of different event types, from walks and tours to performances

Read on for a few highlights and themes from this year’s programme. 

The great outdoors 

Grab your coat and head outside to one of the many festival events exploring our environment and surroundings. In Dundee, ‘Wild Words’ will invite audience members to develop new ways of writing and thinking about language and the environment, inspired by the city’s Botanic Gardens. In Sheffield, research takes to the water in two canal cruises along the Tinsley Canal, where audiences will be invited to take part in a poetry workshop inspired by the historic waterways. In Dudley, Saltwells Nature Reserve, a site of industrial and geological heritage, will provide the setting for this walking writing retreat, where participants will reflect on the cultural currents of the region. And in the South West, local young people are invited to join researchers from the University of Plymouth on a kayaking adventure on the estuary of the River Plym to learn more about this historical tidal waterway. 

Browse all events about nature and climate.

Photo of Erraid Sound, the tidal flat between the Ross of Mull and Island of Erraid
'Floating Worlds' led by University of Glasgow, 15-16 November

The power of poetry 

Calling all poetry fans! Inspired by this year’s theme of ‘Rhyme and Reason’, there are loads of opportunities to try your hand at poetry, whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned writer, and to learn more about the poetry of others, from Scottish ‘flyting’ to the prayer poetry of Aphra Behn

At the pop-up poetry café at the Community Works in Oxford, researchers from the University of Oxford and the Oxford Poetry library will prescribe a poem for you; at Liverpool’s Sefton Park Palm House you can discover the nonsense poetry of Edward Lear; in Nottingham you can learn more about the history of revolutionary feminist poetry and have a go at writing your own; and in Guildford you can explore self-expression with practicing poets Stephen Mooney and Briony Hughes. 

Browse all events about poetry

Health, care and wellbeing 

Many researchers are working to demonstrate the importance of humanities research in the fields of health, care and wellbeing. A whole range of events get to the heart of being human in the modern world, including… a night of cabaret in Durham exploring lived experience of illness; a live performance of powerful and evocative music in the grounds of Bethlem Museum of the Mind, co-created by people with mental ill health; a theatrical “flash mob” sharing voices of those working in the NHS; a pop-up exhibition and series of workshops looking at 300 years of mental health care and marking the legacy of Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich; and a night of poetry and conversation at London’s Cowdray Hall, looking at the history of childhood illness and care.  

Browse all events about health, care and wellbeing

Painting of a woman with hands open-palmed in the air, with words in the background like 'I Can't' and 'I'm Trying'
'Storytelling for Mental Wellbeing' led by University of Nottingham on 15 November. Image: Andy Farr

Give it a go 

There are lots of opportunities to learn whilst doing and get hands-on at this year’s festival, including chances to… decorate ceramics inspired by medieval Iranian designs and try out Egyptian painting techniques in Cambridge; try your hand at making lace in Nottingham; create banners inspired by North-East England’s trade union history in Gateshead; create collages of Cornish landscapes in Penryn; make stone age-inspired animal art in Cardiff; and create cartoons inspired by the enchanted world of Italian comic series W.I.T.C.H. in London. 

Browse all workshops

Food, glorious food! 

Many researchers are sharing their work and ideas on food heritage and history at this year’s festival. An event at Nottingham Castle will look back to 18th century food riots, the most common form of popular protest in Britain at the time – and will explore the history through an interactive talk, cheese tasting and discussion. 

In the West Midlands, an event at Tamworth Castle led by researchers at Loughborough University will take early recipes as its inspiration for a series of interactive workshops – through poetry, photography and food preservation.  

In the East of England, the University of Essex’s Hub programme, ‘The Hungry Human Project’ includes stories, poems and pastries for kids, a sniff-and-share history workshop, and a cooking and writing session with writer Rebecca May Johnson.  

And in Margate, ‘Cook Like a New Woman’ will offer a chance to try out Victorian recipes and learn about ‘New Woman’ novelist, editor and celebrity Henrietta Stannard. 

Browse all events about food

Illustration of a bird, fruits, leaves, spoon, scissors, mug with hot drink
'The Rhyme and Reason of Recipes: Sniff-and-Share History Workshop' led by University of Essex, 9 November. Image: Sinjin Li

Inclusive histories 

Being Human is all about showcasing diverse and inclusive histories and sharing the lesser-known stories that research can uncover. As part of this year’s festival you can join a sonic journey through the history of LGBTQ+ lives in early 20th century Ulster in Belfast; uncover histories of labour in Wales at National Museum Cardiff; discover the stories of the women who studied at Edge Hill College between 1885-1909; take a walking tour through Lewisham that counterposes the area’s rich history of struggles against racism with statues and symbols of empire; and discover global perspectives on local history in Lancaster.  

Browse all events about inclusive histories

What will you discover? 

There are festival events and activities taking place across the UK, from Aberdeen to Penryn. All festival events are free and are led directly by researchers. You can browse events by region, series, theme and Hubs by following the links below, or head over to our full event listings where you can also filter by event type, region and country, and by accessibility features.