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High demand for tickets as Gloucester History Festival returns

Bringing together internationally known historians, renowned artists and key community figures, Gloucester History Festival will run from 4-19 September in key venues across the city.

This year's programme will include the popular Blackfriars Talks, Heritage Open Days and the national award-winning City Voices events following its success in winning the Pandemic Pivot Award at the National Museums and Heritage Awards for the Gloucester Looking Up project. The 2021 Gloucester History Festival offers an eclectic programme of talks, events and podcasts.

As people look forward to coming together in Gloucester's historic city again, there is a high demand for tickets for the annual festival.

This year the Blackfriars Talks will return to Blackfriars Priory, featuring appearances from top historians. Speakers include TV broadcaster and historian Dan Snow, MP and campaigner Jess Phillips, bestselling historians and broadcasters Max Hastings and Jonathan Dimbleby, stand-up comedian and Radio 4 presenter Natalie Haynes, former Liberal Democrat leader and economist Vince Cable, Empireland author Sathnam Sanghera, director of the V & A Museum Tristram Hunt, top historian and filmmaker Michael Wood, leading photographer Vanley Burke and campaigner Patrick Vernon, bestselling Tudor historians Alison Weir and Sarah Gristwood and Festival president Janina Ramirez who with Hallie Rubenhold and Shrabani Basu discusses the real world beneath the stories of Sherlock Holmes.

There is plenty of history to discover for 2021's festival from Blackfriars Talks to Heritage Open Days unlocking Gloucester's built heritage with tours, talks and open doors at Gloucester's best-loved buildings.

The City Voices programme also encourages you to explore your history and consider how it impacts your life today through workshops, exhibitions, discussions and special projects.

With so much to enjoy this year, here's a selection of festival highlights to help you plan your visit...

Blackfriars Talks highlights:

  • Historian and TV broadcaster Dan Snow, exploring the battle of the Imjin River on its 70th anniversary. The 1951 Korean War battle involved soldiers of the Gloucestershire Regiment and Dan will be joined by two battle veterans Tommy Clough and Brian Hamblett for this special recording of Dan Snow's History Hit podcast. 17 September 6-7pm
  • Author Sathnam Sanghera discusses his bestselling book Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain in a keynote event. Empireland is a revelation - a much-needed and enlightening portrait of contemporary British society, shining a light on everything that usually gets left unsaid. 12 September 4-5pm
  • The launch of the History Festival's own book on September 16. Gloucester: Recreating the Past, published by The History Press, has been created by City Archaeologist Andrew Armstrong and historian and illustrator Phil Moss. It offers an intriguing history of Gloucester from Roman and Saxon times to the present day. Join them in person, as they tell the story of Gloucester through its amazing archaeological discoveries and magnificent buildings 16 September 6-7pm
  • An exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the filming of BBC2's hugely successful Raiders of the Lost Past with Janina Ramirez. From Viking ships in Norway to ancient palaces in Crete, she reveals some of the greatest archaeological finds of the last century and the stories of the people who made them.11th September 2-3pm

The City Voices highlights:

  • His Story, Her Story, Our Story - This event will see the culmination of months of collaboration, community responses, the gathering of stories and the creation of artworks in response to this big question and the photography of Vanley Burke. This celebration at the Guildhall will see all involved in the project over the preceding months (and special guests) come together to showcase months of collaborative work and a special spoken word event. 8 September 7-9pm
  • The Museum of Me - Who decides what stories are told in the Museum of Gloucester? How do museums tell stories with objects? How do we know that these stories are true? Workshops and spaces for you to share your stories will be held during the History Festival. Using current displays for provocation, your objects can be exhibited or photographed for the Museum of Me. For more info visit: This is a repeating event 4-19 September
  • Gloucester Tales Podcast, a virtual event hosted and created by Gloucester-based writer Jarek Adams recalling stories of the past, present and future of each of the city centre Cross Streets. Those stories will run as a series of podcasts throughout August acting as a warm-up for series two 'Women's Voices', where Jarek will work with local women to unearth stories about their lives in Gloucester, and these podcasts will be launched at the festival. 4-19 September

Heritage Open Days highlights:

  • Gloucester Cathedral: A Revolution in Stone. This guided tour showcases the Cathedral's pioneering architecture which includes the world's oldest surviving example of the Perpendicular style and explores how this was developed further in the wonderful Quire with its high, elegant walls and Great East stained glass window - the largest window on the planet when it was built. The tour will also take you behind the scenes to the fascinating roof space above the South Transept ceiling which allows you to see how the vault was constructed. 6 September 2 - 3.30pm
  • The Story of Gloucester's Pubs. Meeting at St Michael's Tower, this guided walk will take you on a tour of some of the fine historical pubs in Gloucester's city centre. The walk lasts about 1 hour, giving you time for a tipple at the end. 10 & 12 September 11.45 - 12.45pm
  • Tony Condor presents A Victorian Walk around Gloucester Docks entirely illustrated by old photographs, this talk will bring together stories from behind the scenes. Life on the docks was busy with visiting narrow boats and ships where gangs of men worked to move the cargoes and businessmen sold the grain and timber. From these people come the stories of daily life, special events, and the tragedies that life throws up. 13 September 2.30 - 3.30pm

To book tickets and find out more about the festival programme visit 

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