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York Festival of Ideas

Festival of Ideas

Please note this page is for University of York staff only.  If you are an external organisation looking to hold an event as part of York Festival of Ideas please see our main website

York Festival of Ideas was launched by the University of York in 2011. The Festival is a partnership between the University and cultural, social and business organisations in the city and at a national level.

The objective of the Festival of Ideas is to enhance York’s reputation as a city of ideas and innovation by offering the highest calibre of public events to local, regional and visitor audiences and to demonstrate to the widest possible audiences the transformative power of education and ideas.

The Festival ethos is to educate, entertain and inspire. Its mission is to attract diverse audiences from the UK and abroad by delivering an accessible, stimulating programme of talks, workshops, performances, exhibitions and panel discussions. It has become the largest free festival in the UK.

The Festival provides an opportunity to showcase your research to a general audience or to engage groups in a dialogue with your research, and there is the opportunity to target specific groups within the community eg school students; older people etc depending on the type of event you contribute.

Target audience:

The general public, but specific groups can be targeted.


1 to 14 June 2024. The theme for the 2024 Festival is The Power of.... 


  • Engaging the general public, or a more specific interest group, in your research
  • Opportunity for PhD students to showcase their research and learn public engagement skills
  • Opportunity to contribute to the educational, social and cultural development of York and Yorkshire
  • Opportunity to invite key stakeholders and potential funders to the event

How to get involved:

To get involved, please complete an Internal Application Form (the deadline for application for the 2024 Festival has passed) with an outline of what you would like to contribute. All submissions will be moderated by a Festival panel.

What we provide:

  • Venue and full logistical support for your event
  • Marketing
  • NB we have a small budget to support a basic event; if an event is more complex, and more expensive, then you will be required to find extra alternative funds for your event

What is required from you:

  • An idea for the event you would like to contribute
  • The creation and delivery of the material for your event eg writing and delivering a talk, etc
  • Involvement of colleagues and/or students in delivering your event, if required


Application to the Festival is now closed.

Submitted applications will be moderated, and we shall get in touch to let you know whether your submission is going to be supported in the programme.


It's so cool that York has a festival committed to bringing academic work to the general public. I think this is something really special that I've never heard of at any other universities.

Survey feedback


It's great that there are a variety of ideas that are explored all round the city. The whole point of knowledge is that it should be inclusive - not exclusive - and the festival very much says that.

Survey feedback


I liked that so many of the talks were so interdisciplinary and just the right level of accessible for those new to the areas as well as those who are already specialists in it.

Survey feedback


I deeply believe that it is very important for us as academics to communicate with the wider public and the Festival of Ideas provides a fantastic platform for us to do that.

I have very much enjoyed being part of the Festival this year, as in previous two years. Also as a York resident, the Festival provides a great opportunity to listen to the incredible speakers you manage to bring in every year.
Gulcin Ozkan, Economics and Related Studies


...I have heard lots of good comments from people outwith the university. It is certainly making the University and its work much more open and relevant to the community as well as enhancing its reputation nationally ...  

Celia Frisby, York Concerts


It was a pleasure and thank you for looking after every small detail, which made it run so smoothly.

Brittany Scowcroft, CREMS


I always love my York Festival gigs – for me it’s York Best-Ival.

Professor Paul Cartledge, Democracy: A life


It was a pleasure. From my perspective the festival is always a fun way to expand my horizons and really enjoyed it.

Professor Jacob Eriksson, Chair for Talking to North Korea and How Fear Works


Who to contact

Useful links

Internal application form