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Festival themes

The main theme for the Festival of Ideas in 2016 is Tick Tock, 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.


A Moment in Music

From classical music to pop, experimental jazz to Jewish cabaret, this year's Festival offers a huge array of musical events.


Economy and Equality

Experts examine the economy and equality, from social mobility to the future of banking.


Food and Drink

Meet the Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria or find out more about brewing Eoforwic Ale and mixing the perfect cocktail.


Managing Our Land for Now and Tomorrow

Test your irrigation skills with a game of water management, or find out more about how we can prevent future flooding.


Rebellion and Reconstruction

New perspectives on rebellions, wars, diplomacy and reconstruction, from the 1916 Easter Rising to the myriad popular revolts of 1956.


Snapshot of Time

Develop your understanding of photographers past and present and explore fashion through the ages.


The Future: What's Next?

Explore ideas about how we might live our lives in the not-so-distant future.


Crime and Punishment

How has the nature of crime and our responses to it changed over the centuries?


Eoforwic: Anglian-era York

Learn about this fascinating period of the city's history through poetry, talks, artefact handling, quizzes and more.


Fragile Heritage

Discover the common cultural roots shared by Western society and the Islamic World, and hear reactions to the destruction of cultural heritage.


Mysterious Minds and Bothersome Bodies

Learn more about our bodies and brains from international experts in the fields of medicine, health sciences and the arts.


Revealing the Ancient World

Learn more about myths, ancient Mediterranean atheism and the origin of the Celts.



Events designed to spark children’s imaginations. Join us for Lego sculpture, performances and hands-on activities.


Timeless Creation

Prepare to be inspired by the work of new and experienced poets and writers, and learn how to write without time.


Digital Futures

Look into the future and learn how advances in technology could change our lives.


EU Referendum

Should we remain in the European Union or leave the organisation and go it alone? Join us and take part in the debate.


Fragile States

Refugees and migrants are desperately seeking political and economic sanctuary. What are the causes of such despair?


Performance Through Time

From Shakespearean England to the Jewish ghettoes of WWII, discover more about the context of concerts, plays, films and poetry.


Science: The Final Frontier

Join us for a mind-boggling trip through the philosophy and physics of time, or the chance to touch a meteorite as old as the Solar System.


The Curious Evolution of Us

Why do men skim stones? Enlightening and entertaining talks about humanity's curious evolution.


York: Pathways to the Past

Learn about York's rich history and its remarkable people, take a tour of the city's prize-winning buildings or handle excavated pottery.