This weekend, we had a day free to explore Hull’s Freedom Festival. We crammed as much as we could into one day, although we recommend if you decide to visit to stay a few days so you can enjoy everything the festival has to offer.
Hull is one of the most affordable cities and there are plenty of reasonably priced hotels within walking distance of all the action. We’ve personally stayed at the Ibis, the Holiday Inn Marina and the Premier Inn; all basic but clean, comfortable places to stay on a budget.
Apart from a few select events, Freedom Festival is free to access. Everything we mention in this article was entirely free and represents only a portion of everything on offer at the festival.
1. There’s awesome child friendly workshops
This year there were some fantastic workshops for kids including an acrobatics workshop and Fraser Hooper’s Clown workshop. We found ourselves at the latter at 11am, before the crowds arrived. Both grown ups and children learned the art of making people laugh. Noah pushed my confidence to the limit when he volunteered us to demonstrate our sketch in front of everyone! I don’t think we’d ever taken part in an acting workshop together; it was a lovely bonding experience.
2. Amazing shows to wow the whole family
When I asked Noah what his highlight was, he beamed about ‘the clown show’ and the acrobats.
We couldn’t take our eyes off Block, a gravity defying dance/acrobatic piece where the participants hang, climb and jump from a tower built of blocks. Noah was so enthralled by the show that he insisted we watch it twice!
Later in the day, we caught Boxing. Fraser Hooper, whom we’d done the clown workshop with earlier, had us giggling away with his deadpan comedy.
Shows at this event are hugely popular so we recommend you get to them early to grab a good spot!
3. Opportunities to express yourself
From freestyle rapping sessions that kids can take part in to a pop-up print shop where you can print a t-shirt with your own inspiring statements, Freedom Festival is the ideal arena for children to experiment with art.
Last year, the festival hosted a hair salon run by children. Grown ups turned up to have their hair cut and styled by kids, encouraging independence, trust and a very rare opportunity for little ones to express themselves without fear of reprimand.
4. Enjoy UNLIMITED play
It was so difficult to drag Noah away from Circus Avago, our favourite play area where kids have free roam of circus equipment. Attempt a tight rope walk, ride balance bikes and unicycles. For the less daring, learn to juggle, balance spinning plates or try your hand at spinning colourful ribbons called ‘poi’.
5. There’s tonnes of interaction
Freedom Festival provides lots of opportunities to get involved. Kids love taking part the workshops, interacting with local businesses and services and in some cases winning the audience over when there is the opportunity to take part in some of the more interactive shows. Sometimes even the grown ups get a go!
6. Art that children will love!
Many art installations can be found at Freedom Festival, but as Noah is space bonkers, we made it a priority to see the Museum of the Moon. At 7m wide, the touring spherical representation of the moon by artist Luke Jerram, wows and captivates audiences, dominating its already magnificent setting in Hull Minster. Noah, following in the footsteps of other excited little ones, begged for me to hold him up so he could ‘touch the moon’.
Museum of the Moon is on display until 10pm on the 14th September, best viewed after dark.
7. It’s easy to walk to all the venues at Freedom Festival
This year, Freedom Festival took over twenty locations across Hull’s city centre. This may sound a lot, but as it is not a huge city, you’ll be delighted to know that all the locations are within walking distance from each other. This makes it ideal for visiting with little kiddies in tow who may not want to do a lot of walking.
8. Who knows what you will see?
One of our favourite aspects of the festival is the surprises we find when we are walking around.
Noah just had to stop to watch the walkabout performance, Actic: Urban Safari. The comedic duo turned Freedom Festival into a human safari park!
Quirky exhibits, curiosities and shows live round every corner at Freedom Festival. From fun paper crafted vegetables to the thought provoking Pig installation, there is so much to observe and wonder about.
9. You’ll learn about important issues
Freedom Festival started out as a celebration of Hull born politician William Wilberforce who, 200 years ago, made a major contribution to the abolishment of slavery trade in the British Empire. But did you know that slavery is still a problem that prevails today? According to the Modern Slavery Helpline, there is predicted to be over 13, 000 people in the UK affected. We took a few minutes to contemplate a photography exhibition titled NCA: Invisible People that focuses on modern slavery in Britain. Curiously Noah pointed at the photos, each depicting the abhorrent working and living conditions of modern slaves. I explained that sometimes people are made to work against their will. Having the visual stimuli it was easy to strike up a conversation about the importance of human rights with him.
10. You’ll get fed
Our day ended with a meal like we’ve never experienced before. Freedom ‘Feastival’ is one epic dinner, lovingly grown, donated, prepared and served by local organisations and volunteers. When we sat down at a table, a bit late to the party, the two ladies next to us offered what was left of the main meal to us. There was something heartwarming about sharing food with complete strangers, of varying ages, races and personalities. The sense of community was off the charts. I felt incredibly grateful to the people who had given their time, produce, energy and skills to give people they didn’t even know an amazing experience. Tickets for this event were free but early booking is essential due to its popularity. We were even sent home with seeds and ‘living’ salads to encourage us to grow veggies at home!
Noah has already asked me if we can go again next year! I’ve told him yes, but that we’ll visit for the weekend so we can see even more!
Get all the most up to date information about Freedom Festival on the official website!
If you think you might like to visit for a few days, Hull has plenty on offer in terms of family friendly activities! Take a look at some of our favourites right here.