Death Festival: The Festival For The Living

Page was last changed Jan 25th, 2012 @ 16:20:00

Death Festival is a themed event held in London's Southbank centre. The event consists of two main days, within a two week programme of other side events that are of the same theme.

Exploring the theme of death and celebrating the living, the event expands on the issues and philosophy through music, talks, debates, art, readings and workshops.


Highlights of the Saturday programme include:

  • Assisted Dying - the Human Rights Debate with Jon Snow
  • Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Funerals (but Were Afraid to Ask)
  • The Long Goodbye – Meghan O’Rourke discusses her memoir exploring the nature of grief
  • 27: the age the rock star died by Paul Morley
  • A Scattering – Christopher Reid reads from his Costa Prize winning poetry collection
  • Plus: what happens to our digital data when we die, around the world in 20 death rituals and much more..

Highlights of the Sunday programme include:

  • Of Mutability – Jo Shapcott reads from her Costa Prize winning book
  • Design Your Own Dead Good Funeral, with John Fox and Sue Gill
  • Grief and Bereavement: Silver Linings – Ian Clayton recounts his personal experience of loss
  • Baroness Neuberger DBE, Senior Rabbi at West London + Synagogue, on why Jews are good at comforting the bereaved, but not so good at looking after the dying
  • Plus memorial tattooing, celebrity death in the media and much more..

Aside from the programmed events, there are also other events that are taking place before, alongside and after the main festival event, that coincide with the festival theme. Click here to read about those.


Defying taboos the event aims to observe Death by looking at the "unknowable certainty from many angles."

Overall the festival hopes to "examine our attitudes towards death and why we are so reticent to talk about it".

Venues and other entertainment.

The Southbank Centre has many iconic venues such The Royal Festival hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Purcell Room, The Hayward Gallery and Saison Poetry Library.

Food and drink

Set along the River Thames, there are many bars, markets, cafes and restaurants within walking distance,many varying in price.

We'd recommend that if you are on a tight budget, it's best to have a walk around the area to compare prices off all the different surrounding food outlets, as the main Southbank cafe is quite pricey.

On Site Information

Disabled Access: For further details on the step0free access areas, it's best to visit the official Southbank Centre website, and then search for the Photo Access Maps.

Wi-fi access: Free wireless internet is available in Level 2 in the Royal Festival Hall venue, but it is important to note that the festival has the right to withdraw that service at anytime.

Toilets, cloakrooms and baby changing facilities

There are toilets and baby changing facilities in the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery. The free cloakrooms in the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall are open just before the concerts

Local Accomodation

Location and travel

The address for the event is: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

By Tube:

The nearest underground stations are Waterloo and Embnakment.

By Train:

The nearest railway stations are Waterloo, Waterloo East and Charing Cross.

By Bus/By River Boat:

Buses stop on Waterloo Bridge, York Road, Belvedere Road and Stamford Street, Boats stop at Festival Pier. For further details on these routes, its best to check the Transport For London website.

By Car:

As with all events in London we recommend using public transport, however there are car parks onsite at the Southbank Centre.

The special parking fee of £9.00 is available for those who can present there ticket for any event there are attending.

For further information on fees, disability parking, motorbike and cycle parking and taxis, call 020 7629 0357.

By Coach:

Free Coach bay drop off and collections are available at the following places:

  • By the London Eye (pre-booked spaces only)
  • On the Upper Ground Slip Road off Waterloo Road behind the National Theatre
  • The slip road opposite the National Theatre leading up to Waterloo Bridge.

Festival ticket and contact information

Tickets are available in day pass:

SATURDAY: General: £12 + £1.75 Booking Fee Concessions: £6 + £.1.75 Booking Fee

SUNDAY: General: £12 + £1.75 Booking Fee Concessions: £6 + £1.75 Booking Fee

There is no booking fee for members of the Southbank Centre.

It is important to note that although events included in the pass do not need booking, some events have limited capacity and work on a first-come, first served basis.

To find out more about booking tickets and the event itself, you can contact the booking line on 0844 847 9910, or alternatively visit the Southbank Centre website and