‘Wokefest’ gets underway to promote diversity in Swansea and to counter Katie Hopkins’ shows

‘We hope to reclaim the word ‘woke’ to its rightful place as something to be proud of.’


Coinciding with the controversial media personality’s two sell-out shows, locals in Swansea are heading to a number of venues on the city’s high street today (May 3) and tomorrow, in a bid to counter the appearance of Hopkins.

As well as spreading positivity and promoting diversity, the two-day ‘anti-hate’ festival, which will see more than 30 artists perform in the city, is aimed at derailing the far-right political commentator.

The locals who have arranged the event describe Hopkins as a ‘hate speaker’ and that they want to spread the message that Swansea is a welcoming, inclusive city, known as a ‘City of Sanctuary’ for refugees.

Talking to LFF, a spokesperson for the event said: “Wokefest was born out of the shared feeling that we had to do something in response to the arrival of far-right hate speakers in Swansea. There was a lot of negativity as a result of people discovering that they were coming and the organisers wanted to turn that energy around into something positive.”

Talking about the aim of Wokefest, the spokesperson said:

“We hope festivalgoers will have a great time and the festival will bring people together from all communities and walks of life.

“If people leave feeling a little more connected and empowered, we will have achieved our main aim. Of course, we hope to reclaim the word ‘woke’ to its rightful place as something to be proud of.”

Explaining the reason why the festival is named Wokefest, Jules Woodhell, one of its co-organisers said: “In recent times, the term ‘woke’ has been used derogatively. But we absolutely own being ‘woke’ as it means we are conscious of systemic injustices and strive to actively address and dismantle them. The festival fully embraces and celebrates this mindset.”

Hopkins, who has made profoundly controversial comments on race, class, facemask wearing, and lockdown, is set to perform at CinemaCo in Swansea, an appropriate venue for the anti-lockdown political commentator and media personality.

In 2018, the cinema was forced to close and its owner, Anna Redfern, received a £15,000 fine and 28-day suspended prison sentence for refusing to close or adopt to customer Covid pass policies.

The cinema is also no stranger to hosting controversial figures. In April, conspiracy theorist David Icke performed there.

In 2010, Swansea became the UK’s second official City of Sanctuary, a status that confirms that a city is welcoming and will offer sanctuary to those fleeing war, violence and persecution.

The city says it supports and is inclusive of asylum seekers and refugees and celebrates the contribution they make to life there.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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