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Sanctuary Festival


Comperès Emma Joliffe and Mara Sweetwaters

12.00pm               DJ Remi Vibesman (and throughout the day)

12.30pm               Norwegian / UK Youth Choir

1.00pm                  Orchestra from Everywhere

1.30pm                  The Shady Pines

2.00pm                  Sanctuary Sounds

2.30pm                  Soundwaves Community Choir

3.00pm                  Culbaba Theatre Ukrainian Folk Choir

3.30pm                  Fol’klor Musiqaa Syrian / Ukrainian Fusion

4.00pm                  FASHION SHOW – Traditional costume and contemporary clothing from Syria, Sudan, Ukraine & Hastings, designed by local women for the festival

4.30pm                  Band from the Barracks

5.00pm                  Charlie Austen

5.30pm                  Fat Tuesday Second Line Youth Band

6.00pm                  YYPPFD’s


SECRET GARDEN – please note that time are an hour later than originally advertised

1.30pm               Storytelling

Internationally renowned storyteller Xanthe Gresham Knight will be sharing stories on the theme of our place on this planet.

2.30pm                  Drumming Workshop

Beats & rhythms with Sanctuary Festival favourite Julian, for 6yrs+

3.30pm                  Ma’s Movement

Join Ma’s Movement for 45 minutes of fun, funky dance moves – including simple steps to follow as well and lots of freestyle dance. Ma’s Movement is a multigenerational event,  accompanied by an eclectic mix of music from nursery rhymes to funk, blues, rock n roll, hip-hop & house.

4.30pm                  Drumming Workshop 2



12.30pm               Black Joy! exhibition tour

Curator Lorna Hamilton-Brown gives her expert view of this unique exhibition (meet outside the museum entrance)

2.00pm                  Black Joy! Artists Panel

Featuring emerging artists Fatima Esayli, Gabrielle Anderson and Rahim Amartey, this insightful conversation will be hosted by the curator of the exhibition, Lorna Hamilton-Brown. Together they will delve into how the migration backgrounds of these artists have influenced their artistic creations, and how the concept of ‘our home’ serves as a guiding force in their creative practice.

3.15pm                  The Power of Partnership Panel

Hear about how partnerships between local people and local institutions are essential to creating places of welcome.

With Rossana Leal – CEO of The Refugee Buddy Project, Alice Roberts-Pratt – Curator at Hastings Museum, Gill Caroe – Co-Director of Sanctuary Eastbourne and Fatehullah Naserzai – Coordinator of Sanctuary on Sea, Brighton. Chaired by Polly Gifford, Co-Chair of Hastings Community of Sanctuary.

4.30pm                  Welcome to Earth

For many years the Hands up Project has supported children in Gaza to create short plays in English which can be performed live online. We are presenting two such plays: ‘We will wait until they open the gate’ and ‘One world different stories’ performed by children in Hastings, Directed by Ali Lane. Hands Up Project Artistic Coordinator Nick Bilbrough will also share some of the incredible drama work that has been created by young people in Gaza in the past few months.


Free activities to enjoy anytime – just drop in!

12.30 – 4pm

Bunting making – on the theme of ‘Our Home’

Walking the Fish with Radiator Arts

Circus Skills with Gosmina Circus

Wriggles & Giggles soft play for toddlers

Face painting

A Touch of Gentleness hand massage


Dove Café / The Refugee Buddy Project

Liban Coast

Mama Putts

Sloe Drinks Mobile Bar

Ice Cream van

Tea/Coffee stall


Amnesty International

Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain

Freedom from Torture

Hastings Community of Sanctuary / Hastings Supports Refugees

Hastings HEART

Hastings Rental Health

Hastings Supports Refugees

Hastings Trades Council

Hastings Voluntary Action

Hastings Writers’ Group

Karma Bank

Mediation Plus

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Parents for Future

Resettlement Employability Programme

St Michael’s Hospice

Stand up to Racism

The Lotus Flower

Women’s Voice

Helping to make Our Home a place of Sanctuary for All

To close Refugee Week in Hastings, Sanctuary Festival brings people together for a day of music, creativity and community – celebrating all the cultures that help make Hastings such a vibrant place to live.

For the eighth year, some of Hastings’ best musicians and artists are showing their support for the act of seeking sanctuary alongside artists and performers from around the globe who have made the UK their home. Organised by local charity Hastings Community of Sanctuary (HCoS), and hosted by Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, the festival celebrates the power of community, of creativity and of hope. The event comes at the end of Refugee Week, a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary, with a theme this year of ‘Our Home’.

The festival runs from 12-6pm and is free to all. In the grounds of Hastings Museum you will find live music, creative workshops, storytellers, community stalls, fun for kids, food and friends. The music line-up includes Fol’klor Musiqaa, a unique Syrian / Ukrainian collaboration between festival favourites Jamal & Alaa and duo Dina & Polina. Also Sanctuary Sounds, a new Hastings-based international group that has come together specially for the festival. The international flavour continues with Shiva Nova’s Orchestra From Everywhere and traditional Ukrainian folk music from Culbaba Theatre.

HCoS are very excited to be working for a second year with Hear Me Out, who run music workshops with people in immigration detention centres, contingency accommodation and asylum hotels. Band from the Barracks are a group of musicians currently living in temporary accommodation at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent who have been making music together in weekly workshops with Hear Me Out.

With choirs Soundwaves and The Shady Pines, a’capella group Now And Then and singer/songwriter Charlie Austen, the day will close with the fantastic Fat Tuesday Second Line Youth Band.

There are lots of creative things to do throughout the day including activities from Radiator Arts, circus and drumming workshops and storytelling sessions. And don’t miss the fashion show, created by a group of women from Sudan, Ukraine, Syria and Hastings with traditional and contemporary costume, some made specially for the event.

Inside the museum we are collaborating with the team from Playing The Race Card, who have created Black Joy! Up Close and Personal in the main gallery, a thought-provoking exhibition that highlights over 40 talented black artists from the South East. Curator Lorna Hamilton-Brown will be giving an exhibition tour and then chairing a discussion with some of the artists involved. Featuring Fatima Esayli, Gabrielle Anderson and Rahim Amartey, this insightful conversation will delve into how the migration backgrounds of these artists have influenced their artistic creations, and how the concept of ‘our home’ serves as a guiding force in their creative practice.

The second panel discussion explores what makes a place feel like home, and the role of institutions like museums and libraries in creating a culture of welcome. With Rossana Leal, Founder and Director of the Refugee Buddy Project, and Alice Roberts-Pratts, Curator at Hastings Museum.

Delicious food will be available all day from Liban Coast and Mama Putts, and The Dove Café will be setting up at the festival for the day, run by The Refugee Buddy Project and offering a warm welcome to all.

With so much turmoil around the world, Sanctuary Festival reminds us that community and creativity really do make a difference at a local level. Festival organiser, and Co-Chair of Hastings Community of Sanctuary, Polly Gifford says,

‘In the shadow of the cruel Rwanda Plan, that makes scapegoats of people seeking a safe place to be, we will tirelessly challenge the negative stories, promote understanding and value all those who contribute to our communities. Sanctuary Festival is a great family day out that also sends a strong message of solidarity – we hope you will join us.”


Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, Bohemia Road, Hastings TN34 1ET


Sanctuary Festival is our annual event held in June at the end of Refugee Week.  It is a celebration of community and solidarity with refugees and anyone seeking sanctuary in our town.

The festival started in 2017 hosted at Ashburnham Place, and in 2021, following the pandemic, found a new home at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery.  We’re hugely grateful to both of them for making it possible to grow the event, which welcomed over 1500 people in 2023.

In 2022, a short film was made by Mike Page from Megatrend Media.  Watch it here.

Photos below by Alexander Brattell