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York Festival Ideas is one of the largest free festivals of its kind in the UK, attracting an audience of over 60,000 from over 130 countries across the globe. It is built on a passionate belief in the transformative power of ideas and education, and aims to attract as diverse an audience as possible.  

Established in 2011, the Festival has welcomed a range of inspiring and engaging speakers and delivered a huge programme of accessible events over the past decade. The delivery of a festival that is composed predominantly of free events is underpinned by the support of our partners which have included the Holbeck Charitable Trust, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Virgin Trains East Coast/LNER, Shepherd Group, Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the French Embassy in the UK, the Morrell Centre for Legal and Political Philosophy and many more.

Speakers over the years have included Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney (sadly one of his last public appearances) and Amartya Sen; former Children’s Laureate Sir Michael Morpurgo, and high profile policy-makers, politicians, commentators, journalists and broadcasters, including Shami Chakrabarti, Michael Wood, Peter Lord, Ed Balls, Sara Pascoe, the Reverend Richard Coles, Harriet Harman MP, BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers, Lyse Doucet, Lord Howard and many others. In 2018, the Festival also hosted one of the prestigious annual BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures which were broadcast globally to more than 11 million listeners.

We strongly believe in making the Festival as accessible and inclusive as we can. For this reason nearly all of the Festival events are free-of-charge. As such, we are grateful to the support of donors, trusts, and other partners to help us to present a stimulating and engaging programme each year.

“From talks, to performances, to films, to family fun days - there really is something for everyone and I love that the Festival encourages shared knowledge and discussion of ideas to the wider community.” Festival attendee

Opportunities available

We offer a range of partnership opportunities including £1,000 for support of a single event; £10,000 for the support (and co-curation) of a Festival Focus series; plus headline partnership. 

Partnership can also take the form of in-kind donations, such as offering the use of a venue for free, facilitating access to high-profile speakers, in-kind marketing support including digital advertising, and provision of other logistical or programming support.

“Thank you to all who have been, are and will be involved in this extraordinary Festival …We value it more than can be succinctly explained.” Festival attendee

Benefits of Partnership

  • Partnering with the Festival at any level will provide significant brand exposure through association with a recognised, high-quality festival which attracts a large audience from across Yorkshire, the UK and overseas. Every year our survey data has shown that over 40% of our audience is new to the Festival. 
  • Association with the Festival also brings alignment with one of the UK’s leading universities - the University of York - and other strong Festival partner brands.
  • All partners are recognised in our Festival brochure (13,000 hard copies normally distributed - 7,000 in 2020 due to Covid). A further 12,000 are distributed to electronic mailing lists. The brochure is also available for download on the Festival webpages.
  • In addition, partners are recognised on the Festival web pages (204,383 website views in 2021).
  • There are opportunities for partners to display their branding (through banners, flyers etc), and/or to have a physical presence (e.g. a stand) at relevant events.
  • Corporate hospitality options are also available.

“So many wonderful and inspiring events, sharing of ideas, and conversations that will likely make tomorrow’s world a better place. For the last two weeks York felt like the most vibrant city on the planet. Well done all!” Festival attendee

Key stats from York Festival of Ideas 8-20 June 2021:

  • 66,953 audience
  • 215 events
  • 204,383 website views
  • More than 14,500 followers across three social media platforms
  • 92% of survey respondents thought the Festival was excellent or very good
  • 99% of survey respondents would recommend the Festival

“Thank you all for making this such a treat and keeping it free too! You really are helping us all to engage in dialogue, accept diversity, have love and respect for ideas and thinking, all of which is so important for society and us all. Wonderful!”

Discover our 2021 impact report, read our 2020 report to partners and supporters, or download our 2019 report: 2019 Festival Report (PDF , 10,074kb)

“Excellent series of events - just what a university should be doing for its local community.” Festival attendee

For sponsorship and donation opportunities, please contact:

Edward Joyner

Relationship Manager, Corporate and Foundation Philanthropy, University of York

Telephone: ++44 (0)1904 324389