Missed a live event that sounded fantastic? Want to see an event again? Don’t worry, we recorded many of our Festival events so there’s chance to watch them once more.

Want to hear more about each of our 2020 events in detail? Explore our 2020 Calendar of Events page for event descriptions, speaker biographies, and more.

York Festival of Ideas 2020 - Virtual Horizons

  • 24 MayPoor Economics: The Human Toll - Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo (in partnership with Jaipur Literature Festival) - Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo were awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for their work on poverty alleviation. They speak on the human toll of the pandemic on the world economy. 
  • 2 JuneRoadmap to Recovery: York in a post-Covid world - Signe Jungersted, Charlie Jeffrey, Julianna Delaney, Walter Boettcher, Joanna Norris and Greg Dyke - How can cities like York, their businesses and their residents recover from the economic and social impacts of a pandemic like Covid-19? Join us as we explore how York might play a role in a national recovery plan. 
  • 3 June - Sway - Pragya Agarwal (available until 28 June 2020 only) - Learn how our 'unintentional' biases affect the way we communicate and percieve the world, and how they affect our decision-making, even in life and death situations. 
  • 3 JuneAll the Ghosts in the Machine - Elaine Kasket - Will Facebook be your funeral director? Psychologist Elaine Kasket takes you on a fascinating tour through the valley of the shadow of digital death. 
  • 3 JuneThe Chimera Ensemble - York Concerts - Watch the Chimera Ensemble perform Lawrence Dunn's Sentimental Drifting Music and David Lumsdaine's Kali Dances. 
  • 3 JuneThe Lost Decade - Polly Toynbee and David Walker - Journalists Polly Toynbee and David Walker survey one of the most tumultuous periods in British history, the ten years from 2010, which explain much of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • 3 JuneBrexiternity: The uncertain fate of Britain - Denis MacShane - Britain's former Minister for Europe Denis MacShane discusses how we face a 'Brexiternity' of negotiations and internal political wrangling for many years to come. 
  • 4 JuneSocrates in Love: The making of a philosopher - Armand D'Angour (extra Q&A answers - Socrates Q&A (PDF , 135kb)) - Join author Armand D'Angour for an innovative and insightful exploration of the passionate early life of Socrates.
  • 4 JuneMuseums and Galleries: Locked down, but not locked out - Reyhan King, Frances Morris, Brendan Cormier, Michael White - How are museums and art galleries surviving the coronavirus lockdown? Our expert panel reveals the challenges and new opportunities the pandemic brings. 
  • 5 JuneKimono: Kyoto to catwalk - Anna Jackson (extra Q&A answers - Kimono - extra Q&As (PDF , 172kb)) - Join Anna Jackson, curator of the V&A exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, as she reveals the history and significance of the iconic kimono. 
  • 5 JuneThe Big Book of Boris - Iain Dale - There are few politicians who could genuinely be described as a phenomenon. Boris Johnson is undoubtedly one. Join broadcaster Iain Dale for a talk that is big on fun and comedy. 
  • 5 JunePost Covid-19: Building a better society - Sir Michael Marmot and Richard Wilkinson - Renowned health inequalities experts Sir Michael Marmot and Richard Wilkinson discuss the social and mental health effects of inequality, and the impacts of austerity pre and post Covid-19. 
  • 6 JuneFoot Work: What your shoes are doing to the world - Tansy E Hoskins - Do you know where your shoes come from? Do you know where they go when you're done with them? Join author Tansy E Hoskins to find out about the dark side of this industry. 
  • 6 JuneCreating a post-Covid Neighbourhood - Yorspace & YoCo - Join community developer Yorspace for a fun workshop imagining and designing a post-Covid co-owned carbon neutral neighbourhood. 
  • 6 JuneJakob Fichert - Live House Concert - York Concerts - Join international pianist and teacher Jakob Fichert in his music room as he plays popular classics, including pieces by Grieg and Gershwin. 
  • 7 JuneThe Brothers York: An English tragedy - Thomas Penn - Historian Thomas Penn explores how a dynasty that could have been as magnificient as the Tudors destroyed itself in the space of one generation. 
  • 7 JuneWarrior: A life of war in Anglo-Saxon Britain - Edoardo Albert and Paul Gething (extra Q&A answers at Edoardo's website) - Writer Edoardo Albert and archaeologist Paul Gething present the incredible story of a nameless Anglo-Saxon warrior whose bones were found at Bamburgh Castle. 
  • 7 JuneWords and Swords - Mary Jean Chan and Vahni Capildeo - Acclaimed poet Mary Jean Chan is the guest star in a reading and performance exploring desire, duelling, and more, via both words and swords. 
  • 8 JuneInside Invisible Cities - Zakia Moulaoui and Miles Goring - Find out more about Invisible Cities, a community interest company that trains people who have experience homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city. 
  • 8 JuneHow to Grow a Human - Philip Ball - Science writer Philip Ball examines what it means to be human and to have a 'self' in the face of new scientific developments in genetic editing, cloning and the growth of organs outside the body.
  • 8 JuneThe Future of Reality - Susan Halfpenny, Stephanie Jesper and Siobhan Dunlop - Digital technologies seem to offer up infinite possibilities. But what are the essential skills we'll need as we move into a future where multiple realities are a possibility?
  • 9 June - Off Limits: Art, social media and censorship - Joanne Leah, Kyvelli Lignou-Tsamantani, belit sağ, Amy Werbel and Michael White - Join us for a discussion on art censorship. Where are the boundaries between freedom of expression and social responsibility?
  • 9 JuneThe Secret Science of Superheroes - Mark Lorch - Ever wondered what a superhero eats for breakfast? Find out with Mark Lorch as he examines the underpinning chemistry, physics and biology needed for their superpowers.
  • 9 JuneThe Poverty of Covid-19 Responses - Philip Alston - Philip Alston, former United Nations special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, examines responses to Covid-19 and the impact on those already experiencing poverty and inequality. 
  • 10 JuneUnfit for Purpose - Adam Hart - Biologist and broadcaster Adam Hart reveals the many ways in which biological adaptations that evolved to help us survive and thrive now make us 'unfit for purpose' in the modern world. 
  • 10 JuneFrangipani Nights - Manasamitra - Bringing together electronic music and voice using chants and music, Manasamitra presents Frangipani Nights, a piece inspired by the sights, smells and sounds of India. 
  • 10 JuneMoricosta Trio and Martin Roscoe - York Concerts - Enjoy Brahms and Fauré piano quartets as part of the University of York's Lyons Live Lockdown programme.
  • 10 JuneThe History of Dance - Lottie Adcock - Lottie Adcock of Dance the Past attempts a whistle-stop tour of the history of dance, exploring over 10,000 years of footwork, choreography and social ettiquette. 
  • 10 JuneImagine If... (3MT Live Final) - Meet inspiring University of York PhD students and learn how their cutting-edge research is expanding knowledge and understanding of our world and beyond. 
  • 10 JuneFriendship: Nature's medicine - Robin Dunbar - Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford explores why friendships can have a bigger effect on our quality of life, as well as our ability to resist and recover from illness, than almost any conventional medicine. 
  • 11 JuneCan We Be Happier? Evidence and ethics - Richard Layard - Most people now realise that economic growth, however desirable, will not solve all our problems. Richard Layard of LSE argues the goal for a society must be the greatest possible all round happiness. 
  • 11 JuneNinjam Gamelan Live - Ángel Cataño Flores and Ben Eyes, York Concerts - Join us for a live performance as Ángel Cataño Flores plays sections of the University of York's Gamelan Sekar Petak with Ben Eye's modular synth electronics. 
  • 11 June - This Golden Fleece - Esther Rutter (available until 11 July 2020 only) (extra Q&A answers Esther Rutter Q&A (PDF , 272kb)) - Take a journey through Britain's knitted history with author Esther Rutter and discover the fascinating histories of communities whose lives were shaped by wool. 
  • 11 JuneThe World According to Physics - Jim Al-Khalili - Quantum physicist, bestselling author and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili offers a fascinating and illuminating look at what physics reveals about the world
  • 12 JuneThe Economics of Walking About in a Covid World - David Blanchflower and Martin Sandbu - Distinguished economist David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College, USA, and Martin Sandbu, European Economics Commentator at The Financial Times, discuss the economic impact of a world blighted by Covid-19. 
  • 12 JuneHuman Flourishing in Times of Stress - Franziska Kohlt, Tim Radford, Penny Spikins and Tom McLeish - Join in the conversation as we explore how stories, things and thinking can bring comfort in times of stress. 
  • 12 JuneSyzygy Live: The mystery of dark matter - Emily Brunsden and Chris Stewart, with guests Mikhail Bashkanov and Dan Watts (extra Q&A answers - Syzygy answers - 1 (PDF , 35kb) and Syzygy answers - 2 (PDF , 27kb)) - Explore the cosmic mystery of dark matter in this special live episode of the Syzygy podcast. Astronomer Emily Brunsden and her co-host Chris Stewart are joined by nuclear physicists Mikhail Bashkanov and Dan Watts. 
  • 13 JuneTa(l)king Action: Coping with uncertainty (Q&A session) - Harriet Ennis - The state of your mental health can help or hinder you when coping with uncertainty in life; be it a Corona pandemic, the Climate Crisis, or when your own life 'hits the fan'.
  • 13 June To the Horizon and Beyond - Helen Kenwright - Explore the contribution fiction and creative non-fiction make to the development of ideas and human exploration at a creative writing workshop
  • 13 JuneHow to Be a Good Ancestor - Roman Krznaric - Social philosopher and author Roman Krznaric explains why the greatest challenge facing humankind is our inability to think long term. 
  • 13 JuneSquare Haunting - Francesca Wade - Discover how five extraordinary women's lives intertwined around one address in London between the wars as they each sought a place to live, love and work independently. 
  • 13 JuneNight of Ideas: Our Nature, Our Lives - Fehinti Balogun, Imogen Davis, Joe Smith, Yinka Shonibare and Sonia Delesalle-Stolper - Humanity's devastating impact on the earth has lead to a 'sixth extinction'. Discover how individuals are finding ways to live and act politically within their communities in this time of environmental crisis. 
  • 13 JuneNight of Ideas: Experimenting with Nature - François-Ghislain Morillion, Nicola Lawler and Maïa Morgensztern - From veganism to sustainable fashion, meet the 'eco-innovators' who are sourcing new materials and finding their inspiration in the natural world. 
  • 13 JuneNight of Ideas: Our Digital Lives - Mercedes Bunz, Lorena Jaume-Palasi, Gaspard Koenig and Greg Williams - Does your social media know you better than you know yourself? Experts discus the confusion between what we really want and what we are told to like. 
  • 13 JuneNight of Ideas: Living with Robots - Beth Singler, Sangseok You and Rory Cellan-Jones - Can we imagine a world in which humans and robots live side by side? Experts discuss the issues and moral questions this raises. 
  • 14 JuneThe Sustainable(ish) Living Guide - Jen Gale (links and resources - How to be sustainable(ish) - links and resources (PDF , 46kb)) - Join author Jen Gale to find out how to fit 'sustainable living' into your life in a way that works for you.
  • 14 JuneBetween Worlds: Exploring space and sound - Lauren Bowker, Salena Godden, Mark McCaughrean, Anna Phoebe and Nitin Sawhney - Do you ever feel dizzy when you think about the incomprehensible scale of space? We call that feeling Cosmic Vertigo. Join us to explore how music, poetry and design can help us to experience the unfathomable. 
  • 14 JuneThe Anglo-Saxon Origins of Whitby Fish and Chips - Tom Pickles - Historian Tom Pickles reveals a new interpretation of a curious medieval ritual - the Penny Hedge - which takes place in Whitby every year.
  • 14 JuneTales from My Shed - Tim Dowling - What happens when a global pandemic shrinks life to a claustrophobic domestic sphere? Some of us adapt, some of us protest, and some of us, like Guardian writer Tim Dowling, barely notice the difference. 
  • 21 JulyThe Imperfect Art of Making News - Emily Maitlis and Isabel Berwick - Award-winning BBC broadcaster Emily Maitlis and journalist Isabel Berwick of the Financial Times discuss the fine art - and often chaotic result - of the interview. 


A Date With History: Fashion, food and feminism - 15 June 2019

  • Is Fashion only French? - Farid Chenoune, Oriole Cullen, Caroline Evans, Sophie Kurkdjian, Jenny Lister and Shahidha Bari - Learn about the birth of the notion of 'haute couture', the internationalisation of the fashion industry and the blurring of borders between men and women's fashions.
  • What's Cooking in the History of Food? - Frances Atkins, Loïc Bienassis, Josh Overington, Diane Purkiss and Christopher Kissane - From the idea of 'gastronomie' to Empires and colonisation, we reveal the integral part cooking and food have played in the cultural history of both France and Britain. 
  • Love and Sex Across the Channel - Sylvie Chaperon, Vanessa Jérome, Zoe Strimpel, Kaye Wellings and Laura Beers - We explore how feminist history, gender studies and studies of sexuality have worked to deconstruct gender stereotypes and give a voice to those who have been marginalised or obscured.


Inaugural Athena SWAN Gender Equality Talk 2018

  • 13 JuneWhat works for women at work - Joan C Williams - Join us for a dynamic talk by author Joan C. Williams and learn about the challenges women and diverse employees face in today's workplace and the data-driven strategies that will help them succeed.