Bright Nights: Empire


  • 29 October and 13 November 2019
Arrival at 19:00 or 19:30. Event ends at 22:30.

Ticketing information

£25 including VAT

Includes entry to the King’s State Apartments and new exhibition Victoria: Woman & Crown.

Separate ticket (advance booking required)

An evening at Kensington Palace to experiment, think, debate and drink

Writers, artists, scientists and psychologists will explore the complex and contested legacy of the British Empire over a series of three thought-provoking evenings at Kensington Palace.

In the very spot where Queen and Empress, Victoria, was born and grew up, join us to debate the impact of the Empire on our contemporary ideas about race and identity. 

We'll be celebrating the diverse, vibrant city we live in today with games, cocktails, and a Bollywood meets Afro-themed DJ set from Hit-Maker Music, alongside craftivism, and on select nights, a sneaky peak of a new dance piece: ‘Black Victorians.’

Throughout history, Kensington Palace has been a seat of the powerful. The aristocracy flocked to hear from the great thinkers and artists of the day, invited by the Royal Family to present their work at court.

In 2019, you are invited to return to the palace to explore the stories of those who were once voiceless in this royal building.

The palace will be buzzing with ideas, art and experiments once more – only this time, everyone is welcome!

Four young women looking at a digital device at an evening event at Kensington Palace

Schedule of discussions

Wednesday 09 October

Award-winning poet Anthony Anaxagorou will perform original works on race, identity and notions of personhood.

Historian Dr Katrina Marchant will interrogate the idea of Empire as an anxious abjection and how the Elizabethan era shaped the values of Empire.

Ethnographer and journalist Irna Qureshi will explore the idea of Britishness in a Pakistani context with reference to Queen Victoria’s role in her family.

Tuesday 29 October

Literary researcher Sarah Jilani will question the makings of Englishness through literature.

Curator Subhadra Das will explore the role science museums have in the building and dismantling of imperial power.

Dance performances of new work-in-progress between Historic Royal Palaces and choreographer Jeanefer Jean-Charles. Dancers explore the fusion of the African movement and Victorian court dances with a contemporary approach, inspired by the Black Chronicles II photography exhibition.

Wednesday 13 November

Spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur (Behind the Netra) will share poetry on the impact of Empire and taboo subjects both in the Asian community and wider society.

Psychologist Dr Erica McInnis will explain how Eurocentric psychology isn’t serving a diverse population and how African-centred approaches can provide complementary treatment and practice to people who have different needs.

Historian Dr Sally Tuckett will trace the history of Empire through Scottish textiles to tell us more about people not recorded in written histories.

At all the events

  • Drop-in craftivism workshop with Italian photo artist Naomi Vona.
  • Sensory installation that fuses art and fragrance from AVM Curiosities.
  • History Speak workshop from Manasi Pophale @historyspeak which analyses the “telling” of historical events by comparing school history textbooks from countries around the world.
  • Games, cocktails and a Bollywood meets Afro-beats DJ set from Hit Maker Music.
DJ playing music at an event at Kensington Palace
Barman pouring cocktails at an event at Kensington Palace

Important information

Kensington Palace is situated within a Royal Park and the gates close at dusk. Please arrive via Orme Square Gate (via Bayswater Road). To ensure your safety, a bag check will be undertaken on arrival.

Things to see

View an exquisite piece from the wardrobe of Diana, Princess of Wales alongside original sketches created for her during the design process.


Kensington Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Full-length, standing, facing the viewer, head turned half to the right, wearing a white dress with a diaphanous blue wrap, holding a posie of flowers in her right hand; beside a path in a parkland setting, with Kensington Palace in the distance, on the right.
Things to see Highlights

Discover the story of Princess Victoria, the young girl destined to be queen, in the rooms where she was born and raised at Kensington Palace.


Kensington Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Portrait of Queen Victoria on a green background
Things to see Highlights

Explore Queen Victoria’s private life behind her carefully-managed public image in this major new exhibition at Kensington Palace.

Daily until 05 January 2020

Kensington Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Queen Victoria inspired mug

Shop Victoria: Woman and Crown

A collection of gifts based on the latest Victoria Woman and Crown exhibition at Kensington Palace, including exclusively designed for Historic Royal Palaces, our Royal Victoria collection inspired by iconic symbols from Queen Victoria's reign.

From £12.99

The East Front Gardens after Kensington Palace renovations looking south-west towards the palace, 24 May 2012. Showing visitors in the grounds. 

Part of the Kensington Palace project, ‘Welcome to Kensington - a palace for everyone’, an undertaking over two years (2010-12) of major refurbishments (renovation) at Kensington, including new gardens.

Shop Kensington Palace Gifts

These official gifts and souvenirs are all inspired by Kensington Palace's rich royal stories, past and present.

From £7.99

Lifestyle setting, gifts for her.  Faux sapphire choker, Diamante floral spray brooch and sterling silver brooch with diamante accents in classic bow shape.

Shop Kensington Palace Jewellery

Originally the childhood home of Queen Victoria, later home to Princess Margaret and Princess Diana and now the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kensington Palace is one of the more fashionable and stylish of our palaces.

From £14.99