Gaia by Luke Jerram. Picture: Natural Environment Research Council
Gaia by Luke Jerram. Picture: Natural Environment Research Council

Freedom Festival to bring two internationally renowned performances to Hull

The 2021 Freedom Festival will present two internationally renowned performances prior to its annual September festival, with an uplifting spring programme starting in March.

The festival will bring the UK premiere of The Vigil, a 365-day monumental performance beginning on the spring equinox, to the city on Saturday 20 March.

And Luke Jerram’s celebrated Gaia will bring a work of art depicting the Earth at Hull Minster from Wednesday 10 to Tuesday 30 March.

Beginning on the spring equinox, the UK premiere of The Vigil will celebrate the choreography of a city.

Each day for a year at sunrise and sunset, a vigil will keep watch over Hull from a bespoke structure located on top of the Hull College building, overlooking Queen’s Gardens and the William Wilberforce statue.

Over the course of the year, 730 people will contribute to the collective vigil, watching over the city in a 365-day silent performance.

Commissioned and produced by Freedom Festival, Hull will be the first UK city to host this timely, thought-provoking and large-scale monumental work created by Australian-Belgian choreographer Joanne Leighton from Paris-based WLDN.

An artist's impression of The Hull Vigil. Picture: Benjamin Tovo

An artist’s impression of The Hull Vigil. Picture: Benjamin Tovo

The support of festival partner Global Streets has enabled this work to be brought to the city, while Hull’s Esteem group has helped to build and install the Vigil Shelter.

And Gaia follows the overwhelming success of Jerram’s Museum of the Moon, which saw a record number of visitors to Hull Minster as part of the 2018 Freedom Festival programme.

His latest work will allow audiences to gaze at Planet Earth.

Measuring seven metres in diameter and created from 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface, the artwork provides the opportunity to see the planet floating in three dimensions.

Free tickets will be available from February 2021. Strict Covid-19 safety measures will be in place with a limited number of tickets available for each session.

Mikey Martins, artistic director and joint chief executive of Freedom Festival said: “We always wanted to be more than just a moment in September. These two performances are the perfect opportunity for Freedom Festival to have a year-round presence in the city as we offer something wonderful for people to experience, engage with and reflect on.

“We’re really proud to bring The Vigil – a powerful, internationally-renowned, participatory performance – to the UK for the first time. It’s an incredibly positive and meaningful story for the people of Hull as we show the country and the world we’re the city in the north that looks out for each other in a different and considered way.

“We’re acutely aware that excellent and unique art in public space responds to very real situations in society and helps us make sense of it. The Vigil is the perfect opportunity for us to respond by spending some time taking stock of who and where we are, and hope for a more positive future after the awful time we’ve been living through.”

For tickets and more information, visit

Roadworks sign
CCTV footage of fly-tipping in St Georges Road, Hull, for which a woman received a £400 fixed penalty notice.