The City of Bath festival celebrates Emperor Haile Selassie’s legacy

30 Apr 2021

A new festival was launched in April celebrating the legacy and impact of Emperor Haile Selassie I on the city of Bath.

The Freedom in the City festival runs from April until the end of October with a series of online and in-person events exploring Ethiopian and Rastafari culture which are open to the public.

The project is the brainchild of the University of the West of England, Bristol Associate Professor Dr. Shawn Sobers, and is being funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Dr. Sobers said: ‘‘Bath is predominately known for its Roman and Georgian roots and as the home of novelist Jane Austen. Yet Bath was also home to Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, who is considered God incarnate by members of the Rastafari faith. By launching this festival, we hope to connect local communities with this sometimes-forgotten period of history and celebrate cultural inclusivity in the city.’’

The festival officially started on 20th April with an online screening of the film Footsteps of the Emperor about the time Emperor Haile Selassie lived in Bath, followed by a question and answer session with the film’s director, Dr. Sobers. Other festival highlights include an online lecture on the history and theology of Rastafari on 11th June, a live performance of King Solomon and Queen of Sheba Opera at the Bath Guildhall on 17th July, and an Ethiopian Orthodox Church Service at Bath Abbey on 18th September. More information about the festival along with a full list of events and activities is available at

…Emperor Haile Selassie’s life in Bath

Emperor Haile Selassie, I moved to Bath in 1936 to campaign for international support of his homeland, Ethiopia, which had been invaded by Mussolini’s fascist regime. The Emperor and his family lived in Fairfield House, Bath, until 1940 when he returned to Ethiopia to reign for another three decades.

Fairfield House

During his time living in Bath, Emperor Selassie received a warm welcome from local residents and this generosity was reciprocated when he gave Fairfield House to the city as a gift to be used for elders.

Emperor Haile Selassie with the Mayor of Bath in October 1954

In 1954 while on a state visit to Bath, Emperor Haile Selassie was awarded the title Freedom of the City; the highest official honour a city can bestow on an individual. The award represents the symbolic freedom for the individual to be able to parade proudly through the streets and seals the connection between the state and the people.

Today he is still worshipped as God incarnate by the Rastafari movement with Fairfield House a site of pilgrimage for many from the Ethiopian, Rastafari, and African Caribbean communities.

Latest News

Browse all
Following discussions with the management of Busby Auctioneers and Valuers, an agreement has been reached, today, on the withdrawal of two Ethiopian artefacts that were due to go to auction on 17th June 2021. The Embassy will remain in dialogue with Busby on arrangements for the return of the items to their rightful home in Ethiopia.
16 Jun 2021
Busby withdraws looted Ethiopian artefacts from auction
Ethiopia is dismayed by the “Resolution” of the Executive Council of the League of Arab States on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issued on 15 June 2021 after its meeting held in Doha, Qatar. Ethiopia rejects the “Resolution” in its entirety. In fact, this is not the first time the League of Arab States issued a statement regarding its…
15 Jun 2021
Statement on the Resolution of the League of Arab States on the GERD
Press Briefing by H.E. Sani Redi, State Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Kinfe Hailemariam, Deputy Director General at the National Meteorology Agency, and Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, on key highlights of the week and recent developments in agricultural intervention in Tigray ahead of the planting season
15 Jun 2021
Transcript | Prime Minister’s Office Press Briefing – 15 June 2021
Ethiopian Airlines has resumed direct passenger flights between Addis Ababa and London Heathrow effective 12th June 2021. As per UK government guidelines, only British and Irish nationals, and those with residence rights in the UK, will be permitted to travel to the UK from Ethiopia.
14 Jun 2021
Ethiopian Airlines resumes flights to London Heathrow
In a pre-recorded video message, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, said Ethiopia is disappointed by the campaign that is being waged against its handling of the situation in the Tigray region.
12 Jun 2021
Message from Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen to the International Community on the Humanitarian Response in Tigray
The Brief is a bi-weekly publication from the Ethiopian Embassy in London covering current affairs in Ethiopia. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive The Brief in your inbox.
11 Jun 2021
Debunking 5 popular misconceptions of the situation in Ethiopia
Press Briefing by Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health, Mr. Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner for the National Disaster Risk Management Commission, and Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, on key highlights of the week and recent developments in Tigray - Full transcript and video
9 Jun 2021
Transcript | Prime Minister’s Press Briefing – 9 June 2021
The Embassy rejects, in the strongest terms, unsubstantiated allegations that starvation is being used “as a weapon of war” in Tigray. The Ethiopian Government takes its responsibility to end the current suffering of the people of Tigray very seriously and has so far made concerted efforts to comprehensively respond to the humanitarian needs on the ground, in coordination with local…
5 Jun 2021
Statement on Allegations of the Use of “Starvation as a Weapon of War” in Tigray
Press Briefing by Dr Gedion Timothewos, Attorney General, and Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, on recent developments in Tigray and the upcoming elections - Full Video and Transcript
3 Jun 2021
Transcript | Prime Minister’s Office Press Briefing – 3 June 2021
With new reforms underway in Ethiopia, and with the production of quality and competitive products for export and the domestic market in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector being a key focus area of the nation’s Ten Year Perspective Development Plan, opportunities exist for investment and trade in this sector.
3 Jun 2021
Webinar | Doing Business in Ethiopia: Opportunities for Investment and Export in the Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Industries
Following the official launch of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in April 2011, Ethiopia proposed setting up a tripartite committee and a range of fora, which eventually led to the adoption of the Declaration of Principles on GERD (DoP) in March 2015, signed by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to facilitate the trilateral dialogue. Principally, the DoP underlined the critical…
31 May 2021
Neither politicisation nor sabotage should guide policies over the Nile