Festival of Ideas returns to York

Michael Morpurgo kicked off the festival at York Minster last Tuesday [Image: York Festival of Ideas, Ian Martindale]

The award winning Festival of Ideas has returned to York for its eighth year, running from its opening event which took place on 5 June to its close which will be on 17 June. The festival is organised by the University of York in collaboration with over eighty partner organisations. The theme of this year’s festival is Imagining the Impossible, and the festival incorporates over two hundred events with most of them free of charge. The diverse list of events for 2018 includes talks, exhibitions, theatre, music, films, guided walks, and children’s activities.

The festival was launched last Tuesday at York Minster by former Children’s Laureate and bestselling author Sir Michael Morpurgo. Morpurgo, supported by local actor Victoria Moseley, violinist Daniel Pioro, and the Storyteller’s Ensemble, performed extracts from his book The Mozart Question accompanied by music written by the classical composer. Vice-Chancellor of the University of York Koen Lamberts provided an opening address at the event in which he praised the Festival of Ideas for widening access to engaging educational experiences free at the point of delivery. The event was well attended, with many hundreds packing the cathedral.

The programme is divided into sixteen broad themes: art and design; a date with history; a way with words; Eoforwic: Anglian-era York; evolving society; exploring York; food and farming; explorations in science and technology; fun for families; health and wellbeing; of women; power of politics; performances; revealing the ancient world; thinking and learning; and sci-fi meets the supernatural. Special emphasis this year is placed on the centenary of some women get-ting suffrage; peace in the Middle East; creating inclusive economies; public trust and robotics; the future of UK higher education; ‘reimagining the city’, and the first major Leonard Cohen exhibition.

Influential figures from across the UK and the world have come to York for the festival including Shad-ow Attorney General and former director of human rights and civil lib-erties advocacy organisation Liberty Shami Chakrabarti. Former Leader of the Conservative Party Michael Howard also spoke on Friday on the evolving issues surrounding end of life care.

Events still to take place include explorations on Tuesday of Ancient Egypt with renowned Egyptologist Joann Fletcher and of the relation-ship between religious faith and the First World War with Durham academic Canon Michael Snape, 100 years since the closing months of that conflict. On Wednesday there will be a talk on reimagining city transport with cycling by Rachel Aldred. On Thursday there will be a lecture on the history of immigration concerns in the British Isles given by Mike Ormrod and a talk on the hidden stories of LGBTQ scientists by David Smith. You can view more details about these and all the other remaining events on the Festival of Ideas website.

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