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Record year for York Festival of Ideas

Posted on 13 September 2017

New audience figures reveal the 2017 York Festival of Ideas attracted a record number of people, with over 32,000 people attending talks, focus days, exhibitions and performances.


The theme for the York Festival of Ideas 2018 is Imagining the Impossible

Surrounding the theme The Story of Things: a celebration of human ingenuity and invention, 186 events – of which over 150 were free – were hosted across the city from 6-18 June 2017.

New attendees

Conducting a survey of festival attendees, it was found that over 44 per cent of festival goers had not attended the festival before, with over 95 per cent of attendees saying they were likely to attend the Festival again in 2018.

Headline speakers included: Michael Rosen, novelist and poet; Harriet Harman MP; Ed Balls, former Shadow Chancellor and star of Strictly Come Dancing 2016; Peter Lord, Co-founder and Creative Director of Academy Award®-winning studio Aardman; Tim Dowling, Guardian columnist; cultural commentator Peter York; Reverend Richard Coles, cleric, broadcaster and former Communard; and the V&A curatorial teams.

This year also saw the launch of a new Festival Story of Things podcast, which 3000 people downloaded.

Looking ahead

Joan Concannon, Director of the York Festival of Ideas, said: “We are thrilled at this year’s unprecedented figures and enthusiastic audience feedback, and a huge thank you goes out to the 96 city and national partners who help us to deliver such a compelling Festival programme.

“The aim of the Festival is to educate, entertain and inspire through showcasing the power of ideas, bringing together research by York academics and fantastic speakers and performers from all over the world.

“We hope to continue this trend in 2018 - we’re currently in the midst of putting together a packed programme with something to interest everyone. York truly is a city of ideas, innovation and inspiration, and we look forward to seeing everyone next year.”

The Festival theme for 2018 is Imagining the Impossible, taking place from 5-17 June 2018.

Further information:

  • In 2018 the Festival is Imagining the Impossible and we need your help. Submissions for expressions of interest are open now and will close at midnight on Monday 23 October. If you want to talk through any ideas (relevant to the theme or not!) we want to hear from you. You can contact Naomi by email yorkfestivalofideas-admin@york.ac.uk or call on 2064.

Media enquiries

Saskia Angenent
Press Officer

Tel: 01904 323918