Celebrating freedom in Coventry's year as UK City of Culture


Photography by Jamie Gray

Summer is upon us, and the city has once again come alive following the easing of Covid restrictions. Now is the time to enjoy all that Coventry has to offer. During our year it is so important that our freedom is celebrated, as freedom is such an integral part of the City’s story and so important to how we live and our futures.

The theme of freedom is weaved throughout Coventry’s history. From social justice through the story of Godiva, to peace and freedom with Mo Mowlam’s journey to help forge peace in Northern Ireland. We also celebrate the story of Ira Aldridge through our In Paint We Trust programme and Belgrade’s 'Keys' programme. You may have already seen the powerful depiction of Ira that now adorns the Belgrade Theatre wall. Even our musical history sings of freedom through the lyrics of Jerry Dammers ‘free Nelson Mandela’ and the great impact 2tone has had on the city and beyond.

Here in Coventry, we open our arms and hearts to welcome and provide sanctuary to others. Coventry gives anyone the freedom to call the city home, and we fight for freedom for all, equity and for positive change together.

Coventry is the third evolution of the UK City of Culture project, and we have the freedom to create a year like no other. Our year has been designed to be collaborative, future focused and inclusive. We are driven by the positive change we wall want to see in our city and have worked hard to put citizens at the centre of much of the work we are making, shaping and creating.

Through the programme we have the freedom to escape our normal routines and try something new. The freedom to have arts and culture spill from our theatres into neighbourhoods like the Belgrade’s brilliant Roundabout programme. We also have the freedom to enjoy the city anew, where art is embedded in our beautiful new open precinct, in Hertford Street being awash with colour, and the brilliant Studio Morrison playground and seating area, inspired by the architecture of the city.

This month following the Made in the Midlands podcast will feature Debbie Isitt who will to talk about her journey in the arts in this new podcast series. The podcast series explores our regional identity through our prominent creative Cov kids.

We exercise our freedom to collaborate and create. This year is built, shaped, and created by the people of Coventry. Our GENERATE Festival in collaboration with the Albany Theatre runs on weekends throughout August, giving a platform to so much incredible local talent. Shining a spotlight on the diversity of Coventry creatives and showcasing the spectrum of talent and artforms, from Morris dancing, Bangra and Gospel choirs to gymnastics, musical theatre, and brass bands.

The whole city has the freedom to get involved. There are still so many ways to engage with the City of Culture year. You can still join our fantastic team of City Hosts, as applications remain open to play a part in welcoming visitors to Coventry. There are also a number of running call outs, current vacancies and information on commissions on the get involved page on the 2021 website.

We have the freedom to engage with our incredible green and blue spaces. The great outdoors is transformed into great city stages, meeting places and spaces to be inspired. We are explored the relationship we hold with the natural world through Observations On Being, a beautiful, meditative, immersive experience for all ages, and are continuing to do so through the rest of our Green Futures programme. We are creating a buzz around the Coventry canal through our canal festival and the moving artwork and community library that is Small Bells Ring. And we once again have seen arts and culture move through neighbourhoods across the city with through the Party on the Green events.

We are exercising our freedom to differ, and to celebrate our cultures through projects such as Pride, This is Africa, Caribbean Reggae Fever, and the Eastern European HeARTS Festival. Where communities across the city welcome us all to be guests, participants and partners in their culture and traditions, and celebrate the city’s international nature.

How will you choose to celebrate freedom this year in Coventry?

Find all of our upcoming events here.


Here are some of the events we have coming up

Made in the Midlands with Debbie Isitt

Friday 27 August

The Made in the Midlands podcast explores our regional identity through the voices of those who are from the Midlands and have risen to prominence in Britain.

This time, we’re interviewing Bafta and Emmy award-winning writer and director, and Coventry kid, Debbie Isitt.


Highly Sprung’s CastAway is a stunning outdoor performance that explores the impact of today’s throwaway society on our waterways. Featuring a unique gyroscopic flying machine, it presents a brand new approach to aerial theatre. The all female cast immerses audiences in an underwater world where performers dive, twist and float over 26 feet in the air to delight, inspire and captivate audiences of all ages.

Summer on the Canal

Enjoy summer along Coventry Canal during Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture 2021.

Take in all that Coventry Canal has to offer this summer from the Canal Basin, along the 5 ½ mile stretch to Hawkesbury Junction. Discover the city’s green and blue spaces leading right to the heart of the city with a programme packed full of theatrical wonders, magical stories, and innovative creations.


Fresh from Bogotá, one of the world's leading circus companies brings you extraordinary feats and seamless acts, all performed with breathtaking skill.


Runaway global sensation of 2018 and 2019, "the ultimate feel-good show of the Fringe," comes to Coventry. Imagine the most incredible pub gig you've ever been to and come ready to drink in the action!


How do we understand and celebrate the chapters and mysteries of our lives? What keeps us going in tough times and where do we find hope?

Faith is a 24-hour invitation to explore these big questions through the beliefs of people of faith, and of non-religious world views, through music, theatre, installation, and ritual.

GENERATE Festival of Community Performance

Coventry is a city full of incredible singing, dancing and performing talent – you just need to know where to look. Taking place across five weekends this summer, GENERATE Festival brings the wealth of hidden talent in Coventry and Warwickshire to a green space near you.

Theatre of Wandering

In a new production co-created and inspired by Coventry residents, this walk-about theatrical experience through the east of the city blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality. 

Theatre Company OiBokkeShi (Okayama, Japan) team up with Entelechy Arts in this performance about the different ways in which people experience and live with dementia, made in partnership with local Coventry health care professionals, schools, shopkeepers and residents.

Fashion Spies

Picture the scene: Fashion Week. Deception and divas, catwalk crooks and YOU busting the case wide open.
Mighty Boosh meets Devil Wears Prada in this fabulous and surreal choose-your-own-adventure-comedy. The stakes and the shoulder pads have never been higher...
From Best Ensemble Winners at NSDF’19, Quick Duck Theatre.