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Being Human Festival

The UK’s national festival of the humanities, led by the School of Advanced Study.

The UK’s national festival of the humanities, led by the School of Advanced Study.

About the festival

Being Human is the UK’s national festival of the humanities, led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, with generous support from Research England, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. 

Established in 2014 and taking place annually each November, Being Human Festival presents hundreds of free events across the UK and beyond. Festival events aim to celebrate and demonstrate the ways in which the humanities inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world. Each year the festival invites researchers at universities and other research organisations to collaborate with local community and cultural partners to create exciting and engaging events and projects for all to enjoy. Being Human is a national festival by virtue of being local, with events taking place everywhere from Dundee to Devon. Watch this short introductory film 'What is the Being Human Festival?

Read some case studies exploring impact and legacies from the festival so far.

What is the Being Human Festival?

Wondering what the Being Human Festival is all about? Want to engage with academia in a fun and creative way? Then check out this video which explains all about the UK's national public engagement festival for the humanities.

Being Human Festival 2024

Being Human Festival 2024 will take place from 7 to 16 November. Please refer to the festival website for further information about taking part.

Information about how SAS Staff and Researchers can participate in the 2024 festival will be available soon.

The festival in numbers

Since the festival was established in 2014 over 2,300 free events and activities have taken place, reaching over 270,000 people across the UK. On average, the festival takes place at locations in around 47 towns and cities across the country. 

193 different organisations have taken part in the festival so far, including universities, independent research organisations, research groups and collectives, galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Festival organisers are encouraged to work collaboratively with cultural and community partners, with over 2,000 partnerships being formed since 2014. The festival has awarded 297 Small Award grants and 42 Hub Award grants since 2014.

A platform for innovation

The festival encourages researchers to move away from the traditional academic formats of lectures and seminars, and instead showcases fun, creative and informal events, with cutting-edge humanities research at their core. Festival activities to date have included comedy nights, a circus performance, pottery workshops, a car show, street parades, life-sized board games, bus tours, food tastings, wrestling performances, museum lates, theatre-by-post, storytelling, writing workshops and behind-the-scenes tours. 

The majority of festival events take place off campus within local communities, at venues like museums, galleries, heritage sites, churches, libraries, local parks, train stations, nature reserves, shopping centres, cafes, pubs and cinemas.