A new decade heralds a new chapter for York Festival of Ideas


York Festival of ideas – one of the biggest free events of its kind in the UK – returns in June at the start of a second decade of educating, entertaining and inspiring diverse audiences of all ages across the world.

Running from 11-24 June, the Festival’s theme for 2022 is The Next Chapter and it features more than 150 predominantly free events delivered in a truly hybrid programme. The Festival has adapted to the challenges posed by Covid-19 restrictions over the last two years by moving into the virtual sphere, making it more inclusive and significantly increasing its international reach.

The 2022 Festival will present a vibrant, innovative and eclectic programme split between in-person and online events. The programme spans issues as varied as the geopolitics of the war in Ukraine, the use of medical robotics and the hidden secrets of our home city.

York Festival of Ideas, whose headline sponsor is the Holbeck Charitable Trust, is supported by nearly 100 partners including cultural, social and business organisations, all of whom are passionate about the importance of sharing knowledge and ideas.

Led by the University of York, the Festival celebrates human ingenuity and imagination, and the power of education and ideas to change lives for the better. Its varied programme includes events featuring distinguished international contributors such as the Oscar-winning Film Editor of Dune, Joe Walker, author Sir Michael Morpurgo (marking his fourth appearance at the Festival), actress Dame Harriet Walter and academic, writer and former politician Dr Michael Ignatieff.

Since its inception in 2011, the Festival has established cultural links across Europe, Asia, North America and Australia and last year’s attracted audiences totalling almost 67,000 from across 130 countries.

This year’s programme ranges from the local to the global featuring online talks and discussions by world-class speakers, as well as performances, walking trails and fun activities for all the family.

Actress Dame Harriet Walter will feature in a performance of I,Clara, along with its creator, pianist Lucy Parham, to celebrate the life of Clara Schumann, the wife of composer Robert Schumann and a pioneering musician in her own right.

In a spectacular presentation in York Minster, Sir Michael Morpurgo, with actress Natalie Walter and cellist Clare O’Connell, will perform a concert based on his recently published collection of poems Carnival of the Animals illustrated by artist, Michael Foreman, and inspired by the music of Camille Saint-Saëns.

As part of the Festival’s analysis of the Future of Europe, Canadian historian of ideas and Booker Prize finalist, Dr Michael Ignatieff, will discuss the continent’s shifting geopolitical landscape. He will consider the rise of authoritarianism in Hungary and Turkey and the EU’s post-Brexit re-alignment with the UK as well as its evolving relationship with the USA. Further exciting programme partnerships will be announced in the coming days.

Joan Concannon, Director of York Festival of Ideas, said:

We are excited to turn the page on a new chapter for the Festival in 2022 with a truly hybrid programme, which is at once adventurous, topical, thought-provoking and fun.

Our key aim has always been to engage a wide diversity of audiences by making most of the Festival programme free. We are profoundly grateful to all of our sponsors without whom that ambition would not be possible. Thanks to their generosity, year on year we have succeeded in attracting at least 40 per cent of our audience to the Festival – and the University – for the first time. That is fundamental to the University of York’s ethos of being a university for the public good.

The way we have turned the challenges posed by the Covid-19 restrictions over the last two years into opportunities is a source of great pride. Partners, performers, the Festival’s organising team and most importantly audiences have embraced novel modes of inclusion, helping us to multiply the number of people we are engaging with globally.

York has a great tradition as a city of ideas, innovation and inspiration so we are proud to have attracted stimulating and thought-provoking experts across an enormous array of subjects. I know they will, in turn, be inspired by our engaged and enthusiastic audiences.

York Festival of Ideas is delivered in partnership with nearly 100 organisations including the Jaipur Literature Festival, the French Embassy in the UK and University of York Europe Campus: CITY College.

Look out for the 2022 programme going live on 29 April at yorkfestivalofideas.com and join our mailing list via the website to be among the first to see the full programme.


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