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 usually take place at venues throughout the city, but for 2020 we took a smaller offering into the online world with Virtual Horizons.

A message from the Festival's Director, Joan Concannon, in June 2020

https://youtu.be/nR4s-s3aqbo

Origins

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 an audience of well over 30,000 and works in partnership with more than 100 local and national organisations.

Ethos

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.

York Ideas

York Ideas is a year-long series of events led by the University of York to educate, entertain and inspire, which culminates in York Festival of Ideas in June each year. As a University for public good, based in a city of ideas and innovation, we are committed to engaging with diverse audiences and widening participation in education.

Under the banner of York Ideas, we present:

York Ideas offers a platform for diversity and richness of perspectives, providing access to global speakers and new learning experiences. Almost entirely free, our incredible range of events offer something for all interests and ages.

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.

Guidance for attending

To ensure everyone's safety and enjoyment, please take a moment to read our Guidance for attending

Be part of the Festival

Would you like to present an event as part of York Festival of Ideas? Then we’d love to hear from you. Here’s how.

Festival partners

York Festival of Ideas could not go ahead without the generous help and support of a host of partner organisations and institutions.