Organisers of a special 10 day Magna Carta-themed festival in Lincoln have announced that more than 50,000 people attended the varied programme of music, comedy, art, history and debate.
Festival800 was held in the city from August 28 to September 6, and focused on how the Magna Carta’s powers of liberty, justice and freedom of speech have shaped society today.
The programme was packed with performances from artists and activists including protest musician Billy Bragg; comedian Shappi Khorsandi; YouTube sensation Alfie Deyes; Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy; niece of US civil rights activist Rosa Parks, Sheila McCauley Keys; Eva Clarke, the youngest known survivor of the Holocaust; and Ramy Essam, who was tortured and blacklisted in Egypt for his part in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.
The giant Magna Carta sand sculpture proved to be one of the main attractions, with over 36,000 admiring the artwork created by Remy and Paul Hoggard on display at Lincoln Castle.
In addition to the 53,000 experiencing Festival800 first-hand, over 7.6 million were engaged on social media via Facebook and Twitter.
The festival also attracted visitors from across the country, as well as from countries such as Germany and Lithuania.
Funding was provided by Arts Council England, Lincolnshire County Council and Siemens, and the festival was organised on behalf of the county council by cultural solutions UK.
Festival800 Director, David Lambert, said: “Our goal for the festival was to bring a diverse mix of art, culture and history to Lincoln as a way of celebrating 800 years of Magna Carta and all the document has led to since it was signed – something we most definitely accomplished.
“The great thing about the festival was that it helped spread important messages about liberty, human rights and freedom of speech within a 21st century context – ideals that Magna Carta played a key role in progressing over the past 800 years – to hundreds of thousands of people thanks to the power of social media and the media.”
Executive Member for Culture and Heritage at Lincolnshire County Council, Councillor Nick Worth, said, “Festival800 performed above and beyond all expectations by not only attracting an audience of people from Lincoln and its surrounding areas, but from across the country.
“We couldn’t be happier about all the festival achieved – from boosting Lincoln’s reputation as one of the UK’s top tourist destinations to providing a stage for artists who have fought and are still fighting for freedom of expression and equality.”
Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “One of our ambitions at the Arts Council is to invest in artistic and cultural experiences that entertain and inspire people.
“It’s fantastic to see the line-up of musicians, artists and poets at Festival800 attracting people from across England and beyond to Lincoln to celebrate the legacy of the Magna Carta.”