We are thrilled to announce our 11th annual festival, taking place from 4th-19th September 2021.

This news follows the success of our 2020 festival that reached nearly 11,000 people at home around the globe, within the two official weeks of the festival, and a further 9,500 viewers who enjoyed the Festival’s on-demand content beyond the festival dates. 

‘After the success of last year’s festival, I am excited for what Gloucester History Festival has up its sleeve for 2021.

I am thrilled to announce the theme for 2021’s festival is Frontiers and Pioneers, which not only will share world-changing-moments in history, but also feels so relevant to the history we’re living through today. Engaging with history is a constant reminder, that the stories of the past help us to gain perspective and remind us to have hope through challenging times.

Whether we’re welcoming visitors to the history-rich Gloucester venues this autumn or virtually online, we can’t wait to share a programme that will inspire and provide something for everyone.’

– Janina Ramirez, Festival President 

This year Gloucester History Festival will run from 4th-19th September, exploring the theme of Frontiers and Pioneers. 2021 sees a multitude of significant anniversaries both close to home and further afield: the end of the USSR 30 years ago, the building of the Berlin Wall and Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight 60 years ago, the Battle of the Imjin River during the Korean War 70 years ago and, much further back, this May marks the 550th anniversary of Gloucester’s city gates closing against Margaret of Anjou as she approached Gloucester before the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. All feature frontiers or pioneers at the heart of the story.

This year also sees the anniversaries of a host of ground-breaking pioneers including Frank Whittle’s very first jet engine flight in Brockworth 80 years ago and the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gloucester-born Herbert Cecil Booth who invented the vacuum cleaner – changing our everyday lives to this day.  

Whether crossing new boundaries in the world of science and space, erecting barriers that will echo uneasily through history, manning the barricades and holding the line, or breaking boundaries to unite, work together or gain freedom, 2021’s anniversaries mark frontiers and pioneers of all kinds. As we find ourselves in a memorable yet challenging time in history, these stories also inspire us to look at the changes, hope and advancements through difficult times and the pioneers and breakthroughs which have prevailed.

With events cancelled and postponed across the world in 2020, Gloucester History Festival was one of the first across the country to develop a fully digital festival experience, reaching more people than ever before. This September, we hopes to offer both online and in-person events and will follow guidance on this nearer the time. The Festival is committed to continuing an online programme as well as real-life events where possible, aware of the positive impact that online events have in reaching people near and far. A virtual visitor from Canada said:

‘I am immensely thrilled to be able to attend the festival this year from Canada. The programming was impeccable. I am blown away by the programming!’


The 2020 festival was praised by many for the quality of the talks on offer. 

‘I enjoyed viewing the events online, there was a great deal of interesting material in the lectures and the discussions were friendly, stimulating and often thought provoking.’

The full programme and speakers will be announced later in the year.

The 2020 festival included household names such as Janina Ramirez, Mary Beard, Neil Gaiman and David Olusoga.