World-leading poets, musicians and historians set city alight with culture

  • Writers, poets, historians, musicians and philosophers set to host city-wide festival in Sheffield
  • Festival of Arts and Humanities includes Man Booker Prize winner Ben Okri and the world’s first complete revival of a musical from the writers of My Fair Lady
  • Festival is set to celebrate people and cultures

Some of the world’s leading arts and humanities researchers are holding a city-wide festival for the public (2-22 May 2017) to celebrate people and cultures.

The Festival of Arts and Humanities logoThe Festival of Arts and Humanities, an annual event launched by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Sheffield in 2014, will see some of the world’s best writers, poets, historians, musicians and philosophers head to Sheffield for a series of events for all to share.

Highlights of the 20-day festival include Ben Okri, one of Africa’s greatest writers who will be screening the film to which he wrote the script, N –The Madness of Reason at the Showroom Cinema followed by a Q&A session on Wednesday 3 May 2017.

The festival will also see the world’s first complete revival of The Day Before Spring – a lost musical by the writers of My Fair Lady, rediscovered and reconstructed for the first time by researchers at the University. The production will be performed on Tuesday 2 May at the University’s Firth Hall.

David Olusoga, the renowned historian, broadcaster and author of Black and British: A Forgotten History, is also joining the festival on Monday 22 May to hold a talk on why Black British history is an integral and essential aspect of mainstream British history.

The School of Languages and Cultures students will be hosting a Latin American concert and exhibition to mark the centenary of the Herbert Hughes Memorial Fund – a scholarship fund established in the city 100 years ago by prominent businessman Herbert Hughes to help students in Sheffield learn modern languages.

Other highlights of the festival include:

  • Ruido – a dance theatre piece by solo artist Lucy Haighton exploring whether conversation is what makes us human, on Thursday 4 May
  • Medieval Cabaret – a mixture of talks, stories and music revealing new insights into life in medieval Sheffield, on Wednesday 17 May
  • Roman Feast – chefs from the University will be serving a Roman-inspired four course menu so the public can experience a traditional Roman banquet. This will be served on Thursday 18 May
  • Poetry and the City – two poets, Pete Green and Ben Dorey, read new work about the city of Sheffield on Friday 19 May
  • People Power – a talk and exhibition showing the importance of researchers involving patients in their work on Friday 19 May

Professor Jackie Labbe, Vice-President and Head of the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, said: “This festival offers people from across the region insights into some of the world’s best arts and humanities work, right here in Sheffield.

“The festival is also playing host to some of the most renowned names in the arts and humanities, such as writer Ben Okri and historian David Olusoga, who are joining us to share their latest work that addresses the most pressing issues we face as a society today.

“We have a variety of events taking place throughout May which we hope the public can share and enjoy with us.”

The 2017 Festival of Arts and Humanities marks the third time the festival is being held in Sheffield. Thousands attended events in its first two years.

Featuring the work of academics in the Arts and Humanities departments at the University (Music, English, History, Philosophy, Archaeology and Languages and Cultures), the festival is set to bring a lively and thought-provoking programme of events to venues across Sheffield.

The festival starts on Tuesday 2 May and runs until Monday 22 May 2017.

To see the festival’s full programme of events please visit:

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Sean Barton
Junior Public Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852