Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly launched WOW – Women of the World in 2010 to mark the centenary of International Women’s Day. It has become a major festival that celebrates women and girls and looks at the obstacles they face.

WOW quickly grew beyond the 21 acres of the Southbank Centre in response to an enthusiastic demand for a global network of festivals. Within a year of its debut in London, the festival began to expand. 

Since its launch, WOW has grown internationally with 20 festivals across five continents to date and over one million women and girls, men and boys taking part. From Finland to Folkestone and Derry to Dhaka, crossing further continents to Harlem and Hargeysa, Brisbane and Baltimore, WOW continues to grow and cross borders around the world.  

British Council partnership

Southbank Centre have partnered with the British Council to bring WOW to South Asia. Our global network of offices and local staff around the world make us the ideal partner to implement WOW festivals that embrace local cultures and communities, whilst still maintaining the unique format WOW is famous for.

To date, Southbank Centre and the British Council have successfully collaborated on WOW festivals in Pakistan (Karachi), Nepal (Kathmandu) and now Sri Lanka.

Next year, we will collaborate again on WOW Bangladesh. Both Karachi and Kathmandu are in the process of organising their second WOW festivals, with Karachi’s being held over the same weekend as the Colombo festival. Audiences in Colombo and Karachi will be connected digitally as they enjoy the festival both in their own country and each other's.