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.
Being Human 2022
Being Human 2022 took place in venues and locations in 48 towns and cities across the country, from 10 to 19 November. The festival theme was 'Breakthroughs' and the programme was made up of 284 free events and activities, showcasing research spanning everything from cutting-edge dance technology, to the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian's Wall.
Map of events
Being Human 2022 took place from 10 to 19 November at venues and locations in 48 towns and cities. The 2022 programme contained 284 free events and activities, showcasing research spanning everything from cutting-edge dance technology, to the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian's Wall.
Festival highlights film
2021 was a time to take stock and adjust to the new normal with the festival theme 'Renewal'. The festival embraced the best of both worlds with a range of online, hybrid and in-person events taking place in 51 towns and cities across the UK. The 2021 festival also overlapped with the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, which was marked by Being Human with a special festival COP26 Hub led by the University of Glasgow.
Festival highlights film
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.