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Festival themes

The main theme for the Festival of Ideas in 2015 is Secrets and Discoveries, but within this subject there is broad scope for a wide variety of topics and events. Each of our events is categorised into one of several themes, these are listed below.

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Curiouser and Curiouser: Art, Architecture and Design

Discover the complex and sometimes surprising relationship between art, design, architecture and technology.

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The Art of Communication

Explore the art of communication, from the nonsense of Lewis Carroll to the linguistic gymnastics of political spin.

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Revealing the Ancient World

Discover the secrets of the Egyptian mummies and learn about the Ancient Greeks from their ten unique personality traits.

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Eoforwic

Experts shed new light on the latest discoveries which help to increase our understanding of York’s ancient past.

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Behind the Lens

Go behind the lens to discover all about film and the film-making process with industry professionals and greats.

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Hidden Histories

From the chequered history of our favourite hot beverages to what Stalin ate for dinner, join us as experts reveal some history’s best kept secrets.

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Culture and Identity

Explore the nature of national identity and its role in state-formation, xenophobia and cultural imperialism.

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The Future of Democracy and Economic Growth

We bring together a range of world-class economists, business leaders, policymakers and commentators to explore the future of democracy and economic growth.

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Performance

From concerts to plays, there's something for everyone of all ages and interests.

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Private Lives

You never know what goes on behind closed doors. We reveal all, from the private life of Elizabeth I to the hidden lives of prostitutes in Victorian York.

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The Secrets of the Dead

See how science reveals the secrets of the dead with forensic botany, anthropology and a zombie post-post-mortem.

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Earth, Wind and Fire

Discover the world from the atmosphere to the core through talks and hands-on activities.

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The Theory of Everything

We explore life's biggest puzzles, from free will to quantum mechanics, with a lesson on parenting from Zoe Williams and Tim Dowling thrown in for good measure.

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Science Out of the Lab

Science shapes our everyday lives in unexpected ways. Discover how - from the physics of penalty kicks to the new perspectives offered by drone technology.

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Secrets, Discoveries and Medicine

A visit to the doctor with a broken arm rarely ends with an amputated nose these days. How did we get to the generally safe medical practices of today?

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Secrets and Lies

Explore the meaning of truth through philosophy and storytelling as well as the consequences of lies being uncovered.

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Sparks

Events aimed to spark children’s imaginations, join us for story-telling events to hands-on activities!
Sparks is supported by Shepherds

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Surveillance, Snowden and Security

Delve into the controversial world of intelligence gathering, surveillance, terrorism and cyber security.

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The Future of Food

A series of workshops, demonstrations and panel discussions exploring food security, climate change, and feeding a growing global population.

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Discovering York

Tour hidden snickets, discover bygone professions, rediscover Rowntrees, explore the secrets behind-the-scenes in York's museums and much more.