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carousel-image-hashtagtoprightOn  Love: A Weekend Celebrating  Two Love Classics Friday 30 May – Sunday 1 June 2014 Over two months, Southbank Centre brings together hundreds of artists, communities and partners to create its Festival of Love. The Thames-side site is also being transformed by several large-scale indoor and outdoor installations and artworks. Festival of Love explores and celebrates the complexity of human relationships in all their forms. All of us hold feelings for others, but these feelings differ according to the people and the circumstance. In the English language there is only one word to describe all of them: LOVE.


At Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love, we have chosen seven of the most powerful of these words to guide us towards a greater understanding of the emotion which makes the world go round. We set the scene for Festival of Love with dramatisations of two of the greatest works ever written about love: Plato’s Symposium and Shakespeare’s sonnets. Plato’s timeless definitions of the nature of love and Shakespeare’s series of 154 love poems usher in a whole summer of thinking about love and what it means to individuals and to the world at large. Surrounding these great performances, free talks and activities bring you closer to these archetypal works of love literature. You can write your own sonnets, meet poets writing sonnets in real time, listen to our Love Bites – short talks on Plato’s themes – and hear what happens when we lock poets in the Poetry Library at midnight to come up with 154 poems for our age.

The Seven Kinds of Love are:

Agape – the love of humanity: The kind of love which makes us sorrowful when we hear of a crisis in another nation (or our own); that makes us give our time or money to charity; and makes us feel connected to people we don’t know simply on the basis of our shared experience as human beings.

Storge – family love: The love a parent has for a child, or a child has for a favourite aunt or uncle. The love a foster parent feels for the children in her care and the love a grandparent feels for the child adopted by his son- and daughter-in-law.

Pragma – love which endures: The love between a married couple which develops over a long period of time. The love which endures in sickness and in health. The love which makes a friend care for their former school friend who has become vulnerable in later life.

Philautia – self-respect: The love we give to ourselves. This is not vanity, like narcissism, but our joy in being true to our own values. The strength to care for ourselves so that we can in turn care for others.

Philia – shared experience: The love we feel for people we strive with to achieve a shared goal – our co-workers, the players in a football or netball team, the soldiers in an army.

Ludus – flirting, playful affection: The feelings we have when we test out what it might be like to be in love with someone. The fluttering heart and feelings of euphoria; the slightly dangerous sensation.

Eros – romantic and erotic love:Based on sex and powerful magnetism. It’s the one which can get us into the most trouble. It can turn into other kinds of love – like pragma – but it starts as romance and attraction.