Under the overarching banner of The Next Chapter, all our events are grouped into 16 broad themes to make it easier for you to identify events of interest to you. Our 2022 Festival themes are listed below.

A Date with History

Hear the tumultuous story of Elizabeth of York, learn about the last witches of England, discover the 18th-century versions of ‘fake news’, explore the history and future of tattoos, attend a workshop on historical dress accessories, and more.

Arts and Creativity

Enjoy workshops, talks and exhibitions on topics such as creative thinking and bookbinding, join the annual York Design Awards tour and winners presentation, come along to an online interactive adventure, and explore more related to arts and creativity.

Eoforwic: Anglian-era York

Join historian and archaeologist John Blair as he discusses how regionally diverse the built environment of Early Medieval England truly was, and attend online events on the discovery and reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo Ship, daily life in Old English, and more.

Evolving Society

Our Festival Focus sessions explore how we can work together to shape society. Other events discuss a variety of fascinating and important topics, including climate change, religion, masculinity, the digital economy, and how York is forming a coalition with innovative partners.

Exploring York

Discover York’s chocolate heritage, hear the hidden stories behind a variety of fascinating people and places of York, and join self-guided audio tours to immerse yourself in the city’s past.

Fun for Families

Come along for a wide range of fun, hands-on scientific and creative activities, from developing creative thinking skills to conducting a virtual Moon landing. Supported by the Shepherd Group.

Health and Wellbeing

Attend a variety of events related to health and wellbeing, including talks by Wendy Mitchell, who discusses dementia; Timothy Caulfield, who provides a user’s guide to life in the age of anxiety; and Michael Ignatieff, who speaks on consolation.

Natural World

Explore the wonders of the natural world! Discover how intelligent and sophisticated bees are, what dinosaurs really looked like, what apes can teach us about gender, and much more.

Of Women

Hear about and from Britain’s WWII army girls, be introduced to extraordinary women of colour who changed the world, learn about the Untold Stories project and the original and unexpected stories of Afghan women writers, and more, and attend performances by and about women, including I, Clara with Lucy Parham and Dame Harriet Walter.


Join us for an array of performances, including I, Clara with Lucy Parham and Dame Harriet Walter, Michael Morpurgo’s Carnival of the Animals in York Minster, and concerts by talents such as O’Hooley and Tidow, Maya Youssef, Richard Durrant, and Galina Vale.

Power of Politics

Our Festival Focus experts discuss threats to global security, while other events examine Britain’s role as a peacebuilder and reveal why history is made when statues are pulled down.

Revealing the Ancient World

Hear about the Red Sea scrolls, discover the authentic history of the Persian Empire, learn about Thebes, embark upon an ancient ghost hunt, and explore curious, unsettling and controversial cases of mummies.

Science and Technology

Join our expert speakers as they reveal the latest research on topics such as internet literacy, medical robotics, driverless public transport, and more.

The Last Chapter

Delve into the history of death, discover the many ways Shakespeare killed off his characters, find out what life is like for people who make a living by working with the dead, be introduced to the often gruesome history of skulls, and explore the history of crime and death in York.

Way with Words

Discover why books are ‘a uniquely portable magic’, celebrate Bloomsday, discuss Beatles’ lyrics, hear about Tim Dowling’s podcasting year, find out what it’s like to plot murders for fiction, and more.

Wonderful Minds

Join two neuroscientists as they explore how our brains work with other brains, attend a fascinating talk on altered states of consciousness, and come along to watch a mind reader face off against a machine.