About the Festival

Featuring world-class speakers, exhibitions, theatre, music, films, guided walks, family-friendly activities and much more, York Festival of Ideas offers a huge range of stimulating and diverse events for all ages and interests – most of them free. Events take place at venues throughout the city.


York Festival of Ideas was launched in June 2011 as a partnership between the University of York, York Theatre Royal, York Museums Trust, the National Centre for Early Music and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Its objective, then and now, is to enhance York’s reputation as a city of ideas and innovation through offering the highest calibre of public events to local, regional and visitor audiences. 

Growing year-on-year, the Festival now attracts audiences of over 40,000 and works in partnership with more than 120 local and national organisations.


The Festival is built on a passionate belief in the power of education and ideas to transform lives, and therefore promotes a programme of events that aims to educate, entertain and inspire. Events are accessible and, wherever possible, free.

Administration and central organisation 

The University of York is proud to lead on the development of York Festival of Ideas. You can contact the Festival team by emailing yorkfestivalofideas-admin@york.ac.uk.