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'North and South': York Festival of Ideas 'Takes Over' York

Posted on 20 May 2013

The 2013 York Festival of Ideas reveals a diverse and stimulating programme of mostly free events taking place across the city and the University of York campus between 13 and 29 June on a theme of 'North and South'.

The 2013 Festival programme features headline speakers including Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, broadcaster, novelist and polymath, Melvyn Bragg, screenwriter of Cranford and Call the Midwife, Heidi Thomas, archaeologists and broadcasters Michael Wood and Michael C Scott, novelists including Judith O’Reilly and Jenni Fagan, journalists and commentators including Peter Hitchens, Steve Richards, Paul Morley, Zoe Williams and Steve Richards, economists and policy experts including Jonathan Portes, Paul Johnson, and Lord Sainsbury.

The 2013 programme features a range of partners including BBC Radio 3, The British Library, Granta Magazine, The Institute for Engineering and Technology, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Royal Academy of Engineering, and the V&A. 

The Festival programme includes: 

  • an Economy and Equality day with some of the UK’s leading policymakers, business leaders and economists, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • the best new writing in 2013, including three authors on Granta Magazine’s Best of Young British Novelists 2013 List
  • Design for Living Day explores the importance of cities and features a headline address by the project director of the Shard, Bill Price and computer science innovator, Professor Andy Hopper, and panel discussions on the challenges for architecture, technology and design in association with the RIBA Love Architecture Festival and the Institute for Engineering and Technology
  • An exploration of global health challenges including diabetes, obesity and tuberculosis
  • An exploration of ‘Northern Villains’ including Richard III and Dick Turpin
  • Exhibition and talks exploring the traditions and scientific discoveries associated with polar exploration including a headline talk by Dr Mark Brandon, the scientific advisor to the Frozen Planet TV series
  • A panoramic view of the cultural, historical and health significance of food led by critic William Sitwell, author of Servants, Lucy Lethbridge and a series of events held over cream teas at the Belmont Rooms in Betty’s of York, focussing on the legacy of the Sitwell family and Black-Market Britain by historian, Mark Roodhouse
  • A city centre marquee demonstrating ‘science out of the lab’ bringing a range of scientific experiments into St Sampson’s Square
  • a 70th anniversary of the Dambusters in association with  the Barnes Wallis Memorial Trust at the Merchant Adventurers Hall
  • a series of events showcasing York’s Anglo-Saxon heritage in association with York Archaeology Trust
  • a major exhibition demonstrating the surprising and often hidden ways engineering improves millions of lives around the world in association with the Royal Academy of Engineering and,
  • a major focus on 19th century literary heroines in association with the British Library and much much more…  

Joan Concannon, Director of the Festival and Director of External Relations at the University of York said “The aim of the Festival is to bring wonderful speakers and performers to the city and to showcase the rich and diverse strengths of our wonderful city. We are particularly excited that so many city and national partners have joined forces with the Festival to deliver events which will enable us to demonstrate how special a place York is.

“We live in a city that is rich in heritage, discovery and an overriding sense of curiosity – in short a city where ideas spring to life and flourish and where collaboration is celebrated. We invite everyone in the city to join us in celebrating the power of ideas. We want the York Festival of Ideas to be the biggest and the best. Most of all we want everyone in the city of York to come to as many events as possible and to have fun. All events are accessible and do not require specialist knowledge – just bring an open mind and be inspired!”

The Festival has grown from a pilot festival in 2011 with just 24 events over 9 days to a juggernaut with more than 30 partners involved in the Festival. The festival attracted audiences of more than 20,000 people in 2012 and organisers are hoping for even bigger crowds this year.

The full programme and tickets are available on

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

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