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Imagining the Impossible: York Festival of Ideas 2018 launches biggest programme yet

Posted on 4 May 2018

The award-winning York Festival of Ideas returns from 5-17 June with a programme of over 200 mostly-free events on the theme of “Imagining the Impossible”.

York Festival of Ideas has grown to become one of the largest free festivals in the UK, last year attracting over 32,000 people.

The Festival kicks off with a performance at York Minster by acclaimed author and story teller Michael Morpurgo.


Now in its eighth year, the festival will host the second of the 2018 BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures with distinguished historian Margaret MacMillan.

BBC Radio 3 will also record an evening of talks from dynamic speakers --on topics ranging from Sarah Scott and the dream of female utopia to John Gower, the forgotten medieval poet -- as part of their New Generation Thinkers scheme.

Other highlights include talks from human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabati; broadcaster June Sarpong; former international tennis player and national coach Judy Murray, and food writer and Masterchef critic William Sitwell.

The programme of talks, exhibitions, theatre, music, film, guided walks and children’s activities also features a Harry Potter themed event on witches, wizards, potions and magical creatures.


Focus days with experts exploring complex issues such as peace in the Middle East, public trust and robotics and the future of UK higher education will give the audience the chance to engage with in-depth discussions.

Joan Concannon, Director of York Festival of Ideas, said: “This year’s Festival is our biggest to date, showcasing the power of ideas and research by York academics and bringing inspiring speakers and performers to the city.

“We are really grateful to the 80 plus cultural, social and business organisations helping us deliver such a compelling Festival programme, which will educate, entertain and inspire tens of thousands of people from the Yorkshire region and beyond.

“Events will explore an array of topics ranging from war and medieval kings, to artificial intelligence, and from gender equality to supernatural Shakespeare. We’re confident our packed programme contains something to interest everyone. York truly is a city of ideas, innovation and inspiration.”


York Festival of Ideas was established and is coordinated by the University of York. It has grown to become one of the largest free festivals in the UK, last year attracting over 32,000 people.

The Festival won the 2017 award for Best Cultural Event or Festival at the York Culture Awards.

Tickets for all festival events are available from Tuesday 8 May. To see the full festival programme and to book tickets visit .

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