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The theme of the 2013 festival is North and South

The Sitwells

Featured event: The Sitwells
William Sitwell, great-nephew of Dame Edith Sitwell, gives a talk on his illustrious forebears.


Featured event: In conversation: The voices of servants
Discover the real 'below-stairs' experience of houses like Downton Abbey through the eyes of those who served.


Featured day: The influence and legacy of women in literature - June 29
A day celebrating female Victorian novellists, featuring Heidi Thomas, author of the Cranford screenplay.

York Festival of Ideas 2014

The York Festival of Ideas will return from 12 - 22 June, exploring ideas of order and chaos.

The full programme will be available in May. Email 'subscribe' to to be one of the first to find out when it's online.

About the festival

Running from 13 to 29 June, the 2013 York Festival of Ideas consisted of over 120 mostly free events with talks from world-class speakers, performances, exhibitions and interactive experiences for people of all ages.

Venues across the city and around the University campus hosted events as part of the festival.

Featured event:
The influence and legacy of women day - 29 June

A focus on the lives of women as novelists, artists, wives and heroines since the 18th century.

The North of England has a strong legacy of female novellists, from the Brontë sisters to Elizabeth Gaskell. The final day of the Festival will play host to a series of talks and debates on the legacy of women in literature, featuring talks from experts and lecturers in the field.

Entrance is free but all events require tickets.

Schools and Colleges Film Competition

What's on

With over 120 events to choose from across diverse themes ranging from economy and equality to science at the poles, there's bound to be something to inspire you!

Explore the festival themes



Learn about a diverse mix of topics, from polar exploration to Jacobean theatre.

Performances and films

Performances and films

Including the best independent film York has to offer.



Several exhibitions will be on show around the city throughout the festival.



From soulful folk music to choral symphonies in York Minster.

Community events

Community events

From creative writing to orienteering, there's something for the whole family.

Events at a glance

Full list of events

See everything that's taking place during the festival.

Festival brochure


Festival blog

Some of our media coverage so far...

Wed, 04 Jun 2014 09:46:00 +0000

We're back!

Fri, 09 May 2014 09:45:00 +0000

Seamus Heaney's poetry reading

Thu, 27 Jun 2013 11:06:00 +0000

Jutland, Minster mysteries and Design for Living

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 10:29:00 +0000

50th anniversary

Last year we celebrated 50 years since the foundation of the University in 1963.

The Festival of Ideas was just one of a number of events taking place throughout the year. 

  • 50th Anniversary