A four-day arts festival is taking place at the end of next month in central London at UCL, with a range of free events.

Running from 18th – 22nd May, over 30 free events will take place around the UCL Bloomsbury Campus, from film screenings, discussions and lectures to exhibitions, walking tours and musical performances.

Most of the events need booking in advance, so it’s worth checking them out now, before they all “sell out”

The full list of events is here.

Treasures of the Written Word

Monday May 18 | 12-5pm

A rare opportunity to view UCL Special Collections, one of the foremost university collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives in the UK. Marvel at medieval manuscripts, early printed books, 1960s poetry and much more, as well as a demonstration of conservation techniques.

No need to register, just drop in.

Travelling in Style – the Trains, Planes and Steamships of the Stars

Monday May 18 | 6.30-7.30pm

Join Rachel Kapelke-Dale and Dr Rebecca Harrison to examine the public and private spaces of celebrities in the 1930s and 1940s. ‘Travelling in Style’ will take the audience on a journey through train stations and other transport spaces used by celebrities in the UK and USA. The growth of ‘celebrity-spotting’ in this period transformed these transport spaces into an extension of the cinemas that had been popularised in train carriages and on steamships during this period, turning travel into a more glamorous and meaningful art. We will be reflecting on how the representation of travel in cinema has influenced public perceptions of film stars/screen personalities from the 1930s through to the present day.

Past & Present at the Movies: British Cinema-going of the 1960s and Today

Tuesday May 19 | 6.30-7.30pm

Cinemas of the 1960s are often remembered as smoky places, without much in the way of refreshments. Yet audiences also recall the experience of going to the cinema in the 1960s as somehow much more satisfying than today, whether because of the films themselves, the viewing environment, or the social experience of cinema-going. Join Dr Melvyn Stokes and Dr Emma Pett to reflect on the differences between going to the cinema in Britain in the 1960s and today.

Pregnancy, False Pregnancy, and Questionable Heirs: Mary I and her Echoes

Wednesday May 20 | 5-7pm

This illustrated lecture examines beliefs – medical and cultural – about phantom pregnancies in early modern England with specific connections to the political implications of Mary I’s false pregnancies. While historians have often described women who believed they were pregnant when they were not as pathetic or pathological, many medical texts of the period argued it was very difficult to tell a false pregnancy from a real one – or at least this was so until a baby was born or too much time had past.

Language Trails: A Journey through London’s East European Heritage

Thursday May 21 | 6.30-8.30pm

When Shirley Bassey sings Goldfinger she nods to the Hungarian architect of the Trellic Tower. The famous long view of London’s Bankside and Shakespeare’s Globe? Etched in 1647 by a Bohemian. Is there Ukrainian Cossack gold in the Bank of England? Only the Bank of England knows. Who transformed the Covent Garden Opera Company into the Royal Opera? A Hungarian. Whether East Europeans contribute to, or only benefit from, British society is an ongoing polemic today.

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