Show Calendar


Death Festival

Bookending the lives of every single one of us, birth and death are the core elements of the human condition and something that unites us all. Yet, whilst births are commonly celebrated, we remain reluctant to face up to death and dying.

The brainchild of Jude Kelly, founder of the WOW - Women of the World Festival and the international charity, The WOW Foundation, the Death Festival encourages us to consider death and dying through two days of talks, concerts, performances, workshops and installations.

Respectful and irreverent in equal measure, we will hear from academics, philosophers, artists, scientists, undertakers, medical practitioners, psychiatrists, theologians, anthropologists and broadcasters, airing and sharing their different perspectives on death.

Links to events:

Jude Kelly in Conversation with Mina Smallman (Friday 11 November, 8pm)

Death Festival Saturday Day Pass (Saturday 12 November, from 11am)

Letters to the Lovely Dead (Saturday 12 November, 7.30pm)

In the way that a fitting memorial can be revelatory, or the presence of humour in a well-observed wake can lighten the load, Death Festival aims to shed some light on a subject too often consigned to the shadows.

The inaugural Death Festival, to be held here at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, is intergenerational, inclusive and representative of the diverse and divergent cultural contexts and social issues that shape death across the UK and beyond.

Programmed in collaboration with the writer and activist, Catherine Mayer, theatre director, Michael Attenborough and artist and social innovator, Louise Harman (Louise on Death).

Hospice UK is the charity partner of Death Festival, bringing voices, experience and expertise from its Dying Matters campaign to help change the conversation about death and dying. Death Festival is supported by DeadHappy, life insurance to die fo

Programme highlights

  • An installation of portrait photography by world-renowned photographer Rankin
  • A performance of letters to the lovely and beloved dead by those mourning them, including author Catherine Mayer writing to her close friend, Paula Yates, whose death was treated as a tabloid sensation
  • Jude Kelly in conversation with Mina Smallman, who will share her journey of grief, rage, faith and activism following the murder of her daughters Bibaa Henry and Nicole in June 2020
  • A workshop on honouring and remembering loved ones with @thegriefcase founder Poppy Chancellor
  • Artist and social innovator Louise Harman (Louise on Death) and Cara Mair, founder of Arka Funerals discuss the choices we have about the body, burial and memorial of a loved one
  • A panel discussing the intersections of public and private grief, and the tricky politics of memorialisation
  • Amber Jeffrey, founder of The Grief Gang podcast, in conversation with Anna Burtt, co-host of The Mother Of All Losses, about finding a community through podcasting, and their experiences of grieving their mothers and maternal figures
  • A discussion about LGBTQ+ experiences of dying, death and bereavement
  • A playful game of Death Euphemism Bingo with artist duo YARA + DAVINA

About Jude Kelly and the origins of the Death Festival

Jude Kelly is Founder and CEO of The WOW Foundation which runs WOW - Women of the World Festivals to celebrate the achievements of women and girls and confront gender injustice across the globe. Starting in London in 2010 the Festival now takes place in 30 locations across six continents. In 2018 Jude established The WOW Foundation, an independent charity dedicated to building the WOW movement as a force for positive change.

In 2012, she also created ‘Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living’, which featured four days of talks, music, performance and poetry lifting the lid on the subject of death. The inaugural Death Festival - a successor of this project – is an interdisciplinary arts festival to celebrate and care about death differently. The first edition of the festival will take place at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts on 11–12 November 2022, before expanding to other locations across the country. Death Festival is IP of Jude Kelly Studio.

General Information:

Guests who use a wheelchair or experience mobility impairments are asked to call the box office on 01273 678822 or email so that we can assist you to find the best seat to suit your requirements.

Personal assistance tickets are available for free for customers who would otherwise be unable to attend the venue. Please contact the box office on 01273 678822 or email for further information.

The Box Office (phone line and drop-in service) is open from 10am to 4pm, Mondays to Fridays. The box office is also open one hour before the advertised show start time.

Dates & Times

Friday 11 November, 2022 7:00pm
– Saturday 12 November, 2022 11:00pm
Discount for booking multiple events: Buy tickets to any 2 events in Death Festival - get 10% off. Buy tickets to all 3 events in Death Festival (Mina Smallman in conversation, Saturday Day Pass, Letters to the Lovely Dead) - get 20% off. Discount automatically applied at checkout.
Discussion & Debate
Death Festival
Friday 11 November  – Saturday 12 November
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