Deathfest Southbank

Charles 8 Comments


With a Festival Day Pass for Saturday 28 January or Sunday 29 January, muse upon mortality, tackle the taboo and join us for a weekend of discussion, workshops and talks.

Ask questions, share your stories or simply be enlightened about the end.



–  Assisted dying: The Human Rights Debate with Jon Snow

– The Long Goodbye – Meghan O’Rourke recounts her personal experience of grief from her memoir

–   A Scattering – Christopher Reid reads from his Costa Book Award-winning collection of poems

–  27: the age the rockstar died by Paul Morley

– Death Bites – Hear all about death including cryonics, the art of obituary writing, what happens to your data after you die, and body politics                             

–  Of Mutability – Jo Shapcott reads from her Costa Book Award-winning book

–  Writer Ian Clayton tells his heart-rending experience of bereavement and the new paths that can arise from loss

– Panels consider a range of subjects including organ donation, suicide and survival

–   Death Bites – Hear all about death including the rise of women funeral directors, memorial tattooing, celebrity death, and the lives of gangs and inner-city young people and their relationship to death

In addition to a packed daytime programme covered by the Festival Day Pass you can also enjoy evening concerts and performances which are ticketed separately.


Friday 27 – Sunday 29 January

An uplifting children’s story about the last days in the life of much-loved guinea pig Mr Muffin, told through puppetry, animation and music.                    


Friday 27 January

A heavenly mix of devilishly popular classics from composers obsessed by death, including Saint-Saëns and Mahler, and excerpts from requiems by Verdi, Fauré and Mozart.



Saturday 28 January

Die Laughing: Bringing life back to the subject of death, Sandi Toksvig seeks out a mix of merriment and the macabre in morbidity.                          


Friday 27 – Sunday 29 January

Chris Larner explores the contentious issue of assisted dying through his candid, poignant and sometimes comic tale of visiting Switzerland’s Dignitas clinic with his chronically ill ex-wife.


Sunday 29 January

A screening of the late Ken Russell’s classic film followed by a discussion with Julian Lloyd Webber, Delius expert Lyndon Jenkins, Barry Humphries and David Mellor (chair).                         


Sunday 29 January

Life begins at 40. Then you have a stroke. Oh goodie. Stand-up comedian Markus Birdman’s show is about life, love, death and laughing in the face of it all.                               


Come along to a variety of free events to get you thinking about death. See a vibrant collection of bespoke coffins, discover uncanny death-themed games, request made-to-order poetry and hear stimulating discussions at the Death Café and Paul Gambaccini’s Desert Island Death Discs. Join us to consider death through a wealth of thought-provoking, informative and amusing activities and displays.           Ticket Office: 0844 847 9910

Southbank Centre is a charity registered in England and Wales No.298909.

Registered office: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX.



  1. Charles

    Come, Charles, this modesty will not do.

    Good people, one of ther panellists in a session on the Saturday is:

    (drum roll – muffled drums covered in black crepe, of course)

    Charles Cowling.

    So hurry now for tickets whilst stocks last.

  2. Charles

    Jolly nice of you to type it all up, Chazzer.

    Let me complement your effort by adding the accompanying Menu To Die For at the adjacent Skylon Restaurant:

    Lobster: butter poached lobster salad with quinoa, maple syrup vinaigrette

    Caviar: warm buckwheat blini with acquitaine caviar and traditional trimmings

    Foie gras: port wine poached foie gras, squash and beetroot mosaique

    Salmon: warm smoked Var salmon, pickled cucumber mousseline sauce


    Lamb: saddle of pyrenean lamb, swiss chard gratin, griotte marmelade

    Cheese: vacherin mont d’or

    Heavenly cloud

    Tasting menu £59; paired wines £47.

    Check it out:

  3. Charles

    Thank you, Kathryn. I didn’t type it up, actually; I asked nice the people at Southbank to give me the image, and the text as a word doc. Wasn’t that kind of them?

    This menu would make a fine last meal – especially if my bank manager got to hear about it. It does look delicious, though. Thank you for the link. I can see undertakers booking themselves in in droves.

    Sorry, a bit cheap that – cheerfully so, of course.

  4. Charles

    At the Natural Death Centre we’re so looking forward to the death festival and hope to see some of you there.
    As well as exhibiting Saturday and Sunday 11am-6pm NDC is running three Death Salons :
    1. The experience of a family organised green funeral. Friday 19.30-20.30.
    2. Thinking ahead before you’re brown bread (dead). Saturday 12-13.30& Sunday15.30 – 17.00.
    3. Funerals in the 21st Century – possibilities and choices. Saturday 15.30 – 17.00 and Sunday 12-13.30.
    NDC also participating :
    4. Death Bites : Too poor to die – economics and death. Funeral arrangements. Sunday 10.30-11.30. .
    The salons are free to attend with a day pass. Sign up for each session ahead of the start time in the market area. We also hope to see you at Jon Underwood’s Death Cafe, Sat & Sun 2-3pm and of course at your session Charles.

  5. Charles

    Very cross now! Do wish I could be there. Hope it goes brilliantly and that all of you who are able to make it have a great and productive time.

    I saw a news article about this on the TV on Friday….great for raising the profile of the ‘good guys’ in the industry and getting people talking!

  6. Charles

    There were quite a lot of news coverage on Friday and it can be seen again on (the actual report was 15 minutes in to the programme and I suggest you scroll forward to find it……It featured the film we made Beyond Goodbye that Charles has written so positively and encouragingly about and that will be on at the Southbank Festival on saturday 28th at 3pm where a trailer of Beyond Goodbe will be shown. The film has been by my husband and myself when our son died suddenly and has been a massive part of our grieving process….. We felt as if we have landed on an unknown planet and discovered many things……that funerals are for the living……and the rest. Publications like the Good Funeral Guide and the Daily Undertaker have also been discovered on this planet and have been fascinating and encouraging to read……..I had no idea! People like Charles Cowling and Patrick o Mally seem to be doing groundbreaking stuff. Thanks

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>