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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.


4 to 16 June 2019. The theme for the 2019 Festival is A World of Wonder. 


  • 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  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; creating a hands-on activity etc
  • Involvement of colleagues and/or students in delivering your event, if required


We are now requesting submissions for the Festival programme. Please submit an Internal Application Form by Monday 22 October 2018. When submitted, these will be moderated, and we shall get in touch to let you know whether your submission is going to be supported in the programme.


Thanks a lot. We had a great experience with Psych!York being part of the Festival. Our event surpassed our ambitions and in the end we had over 350 guests.

We had over 15 early career researchers form the psychology department demonstrating their work in fun exhibits. In preparation we held a public engagement training day with RDT, so as a result of taking part in our event, the demonstrators now have public engagement experience, training, and a set of materials they and their lab groups can use in the future.

We had some great feedback on the day, all of the visitors seemed to really enjoy the event.

Thanks a lot, and many congratulations on a very successful festival.
Kay, Psych!York


I wanted to thank everyone personally for all the inspiration and support with organising the 'Mysterious Minds and Bothersome Bodies'' weekend and other activities. Each of the events went really well I think and the audiences were very appreciative and engaged. I have some nice feedback which shows how people's outlooks and attitudes were influenced positively which I will send you shortly.

I think the Festival is a tremendous cultural asset and wish it many more years of success.
Philip Kerrigan, C2D2


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


A huge thanks to you and your team for all your hard work in putting together the 2016 Festival of Ideas and for running the events so smoothly.

I think the audience did get a lot out of the Fragile States focus day judging by those I spoke to during the breaks… It was great to talk to some of the other people involved in the fragile heritage events and a huge privilege to be associated with such an important oasis of dialogue in what feels at times to be a world of closed minds.

Well done all of you!
Simon Parker, Politics


Thank you for the Zombie Dissection tickets!  The boys and their two friends absolutely loved it.  It was undoubtedly the best piece of educational science theatre that we've seen.  Bright kids rarely get contact with science that stretches them - primary school science; a growing seed, a magnet, yawn - so I think they all appreciated being treated almost like equals with high level science by the university students.  But best of all, the very best of all, was the "General" turning into a zombie over the course of the evening!  When he fell through the door shouting for brains.. they all scattered and ran but utterly, utterly loved it!


@YorkFestofIdeas Fantastic zombie event @yorkexplore this evening. Thanks to all the Uni of York scientists.
York Explore


Thank you so much for a great week of inspiration. I have managed to get to 3 talks and have been challenged and encouraged by what I've heard. Mainly that I can do more myself to make a difference.



Really enjoyed @YorkFestofIdeas and the talks I went to, learnt some amazing stuff and inspired some #ideas of my own #York