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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 for free. Events take place at venues throughout the city as well as online.


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. 

The Festival is an expression of the University of York’s commitment to being a university for public good: through the Festival we demonstrate the major contribution of education to the economic, social and cultural development of York and Yorkshire.

Growing year on year, the Festival now attracts an audience of almost 40,000 and works in partnership with more than 100 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

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 you can apply to present an event as part of the Festival.

Festival partners

York Festival of Ideas is a collective effort - find out who was involved in 2023.

Festival donors and supporters

A huge thank you to our Festival donors and supporters who enable us to bring so many events to our audiences free of charge.

Festival brochure

Download the York Festival of Ideas programme 2023 (PDF , 12,290kb)

Contact us