After the excitement of historical events and milestones in 2023, including the NHS’s 75th anniversary, 2024 promises to be another great year for history enthusiasts. Read on to see what you can look forward to over the next 12 months…

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What period dramas are being released in 2024?

The BBC kicked off January with a new series of the much-loved Call the Midwife. Featuring stories to warm the cold winter nights, we’ll see two new midwives find their way in Nonnatus house, and many new lives being brought into the world.

Midwives and a doctor examining a baby
Characters Rosalind Clifford (NATALIE QUARRY), Nurse Phyllis Crane (Linda Basset), Dr Patrick Turner (Stephen McGann) in Call the Midwife. (Photo by BBC Pictures)

Apple TV+ brings us Masters of the Air on 26 January, a gripping tale about an American bomber squadron during the Second World War. Also upcoming on Apple TV+ is The New Look. Releasing on 14 February, it will explore the life of Christian Dior and his peers, including Coco Chanel, as they launch modern fashion.

As February comes to an end, Shōgun will be released on Disney+, an original adaptation of James Clavell's bestselling novel, which is set in Japan in 1600 at the dawn of a century-defining civil war. In March, Mary and George on Sky Atlantic will follow the story of the Countess of Buckingham, who moulded her son to seduce King James I and become his all-powerful lover.

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And of course, we can’t forget the highly anticipated series 3 of Netflix’s Bridgerton. It has been confirmed to arrive in two parts – the first on 16 May, and the second on 13 June. These episodes will follow the blossoming romance between Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan).

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Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in season three of Bridgerton.
Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in season three of Bridgerton. (Photo by Netflix)

Later in 2024, we can expect the second series of House of the Dragon, a prequel to Game of Thrones. Discover more about the real medieval event it’s based on here, a period known as the Anarchy (though, there isn’t a dragon in sight in this version).

Also released this year is series two of SAS Rogue Heroes.

What historical films are being released in 2024?

On 12 January, Poor Things – a motion picture based on Alasdair Gray’s 1992 book – made its debut. Set in Victorian London, it charts the existence of a young woman (Emma Stone) who is given life by an unorthodox scientist.

Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley appear in Wicked Little Letters on 23 February. Based on a true story, this black comedy follows the inhabitants of a sleepy town as they solve the mystery behind strongly worded letters sent to local residents.

The Bikeriders is also set to open this summer. Featuring both Austin Butler and Jodie Comer, it chronicles the rise of a Chicago motorcycle club over the course of the 1960s. Also released later this year is The Critic, starring Ian Mckellen as Jimmy Erskine, the most feared and famous theatre critic in 1930s London.

We’ll also see Josh O’Connor and Paul Mescal in The History of Sound. They play two young men who set out to record the lives, voices and music of American countrymen during World War I.

Finally, expected in November 2024 is Gladiator II, a sequel to the box office hit directed by Ridley Scott. Read more about the real gladiators of ancient Rome.

What exhibitions and events are on at British museums?

Interested in all things Roman? Beginning on 1 February at The British Museum, Legion: life in the Roman army explores Rome’s war machine through the people who knew it best – the soldiers. Also at The British Museum, Michelangelo: the last decades will open on 2 May. This exhibition features intimate letters, drawings and poems from the famous figure.

St Fagan’s National History Museum is hosting an online talk on 8 February at 6pm on black history. Focusing on the Somaliland community – one of the oldest minority ethnic communities in Wales – it’s available on a ‘pay what you can’ basis.

On 20 April, Another View: Landscapes by Women Artists opens at National Museums Liverpool. It will explore and celebrate the history of landscapes by women artists, featuring a wide range of art.

If photography piques your interest, there is still time to visit the V&A’s exhibition Energy: Sparks from the Collection, closing on 18 May 2025. It explores the energy needed in photography, from the creation of the picture to the subjects in front of the camera.

And, as the sun (hopefully) starts shining more, Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge is offering a week-long event perfect for foodies. From 25 May – 2 June, their Victorian food week will feature the famous Mrs Beeton, cooking demonstrations, sweet making, and more unusual dishes from this period.

Also this summer, the Design Museum in Kensington is hosting Barbie: The Exhibition, starting from 5 July. Focusing on the cultural impact of our much-loved doll, it will display dozens of rare and unique items to tell the story of the iconic brand. Explore the toy’s origins with Barbie historian Robin Gerber.

A collection of Barbie Dolls
A collection of Barbie Dolls on exhibit at the Public Library in New York. (Photo by Getty)

To mark its 200th anniversary, the National Gallery will stage its first exhibition of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. Starting on 14 September, Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers will also mark the centenary of the Gallery’s acquisition of two of the artist’s most famous pictures: ‘Sunflowers’ and ‘Van Gogh’s Chair’.

What anniversaries are there in 2024?

On 21 January, it will be the 100th anniversary of the death of Vladimir Lenin, who served as the first head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924, and of the Soviet Union between 1922 to 1924.

On 4 April, it will have been 75 years since the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was created. Twelve members signed the document known as the Washington Treaty – including the UK, Canada, and the US. By doing this, they promised to safeguard the freedom and security of each other through political and military means.

Last year, Sweden won Eurovision, and, on 6 April, it will have been 50 years since the Swedish band ABBA won with their hit ‘Waterloo’. “This not only launched Abba's international career, but also helped Eurovision take off as a major force on the international popular music stage,” Dean Vuletic, a leading expert on Eurovision’s history, told HistoryExtra.

In May, there will be many recognisable historical anniversaries. On 4 May, it will have been 45 years since Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister in Britain. “Margaret Thatcher was the most divisive political figure of the 20th century, passionately loved and hated in equal measure,” historian Kate Williams explains. “She presided over a seismic change in British society, pushing it to move from a traditional manufacturing economy to one privileging financial and service industries, allowing speculation, soaring house prices and consumer credit.”

Then, 10 May marks 30 years since the inauguration of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president. The same date also marks 200 years since the National Gallery was founded.

It will be the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre on 4 June. Many will recognise the photograph of ‘Tank Man’, a lone individual blocking tanks with shopping bags in hand. While it’s a famous image in the West, as BBC correspondent Robin Brant explains in this feature, it’s far from a widely recognised image in China.

Protester Blocking Tanks Approaching Tiananmen Square
The famous photograph of the individual now known as 'Tank Man'. (Photo by Getty)

Two days later, 6 June will bring the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history. You can test your knowledge of this Second World War event here.

And it isn’t just D-Day experiencing a big anniversary this year. On 1 September, it will have been 85 years since the start of the Second World War.

As autumn approaches, it will have been 170 years since the Charge of the Light Brigade on 25 October, viewed as one of the most notorious fiascos in British military history. But who should shoulder the blame for this suicidal assault on Russian guns? Saul David considers the evidence in this feature.

Illustration of the charge of the light brigade.
Illustration of the Charge of the Light Brigade. (Photo by Getty)

The Berlin Wall fell 35 years ago on 9 November. Here, Professor Patrick Major explores the history of this event, and its significance today.

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Finally, on 24 November, it will have been 165 years since the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species. Laying out his theory of evolution, it would change how we viewed the world – and how it came to be – forever.

Authors

Lauren GoodDigital Editorial Assistant, HistoryExtra

Lauren Good is the digital editorial assistant at HistoryExtra, She joined the team in 2022 after completing an MA in Creative Writing, and she holds a first-class degree in English and Classical Studies, during which she studied ancient history and philosophy

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