The York Festival of Ideas presents Michael Morpurgo and Harriet Walter


There’s something for everyone at this year’s York Festival of Ideas.

Returning next month, the festival, which runs from June 11-24, features a program of more than 150 mostly free, online and in-person events themed around “The Next Chapter”.

Led by the University of York and supported by a range of sponsors, including the Holbeck Charitable Trust as title sponsor, the festival celebrates human ingenuity and imagination, and the power of education and ideas to changing lives for the better.

The program features historian and author Alison Weir telling the compelling story of Elizabeth of York, England’s first Tudor Queen, and Pakistani-American artist and illustrator Maliha Abidi celebrating 100 remarkable women of color from over 40 countries that have overcome immense challenges to succeed in science, entertainment, the arts, sports and politics. Canadian scientist and public health expert Timothy Caulfield will explore ways to reduce individual stress in a world filled with anxiety, while former NHS team leader Wendy Mitchell will debunk some of the myths surrounding dementia.

To mark World Refugee Day on June 20, award-winning author Helen Benedict and writer and Syrian refugee Eyad Awwadawnan tell the stories of five people who fled violence and persecution in the Middle East and Africa to find themselves trapped in refugee camps in Greece.

In contrast, film and TV screenwriter Graham McCann will take an intimate look at the life and career of comedy legend Frankie Howerd, through the comedian’s archive now housed at the University of York’s Borthwick Institute. .

The Festival will feature contributions from a range of world-class speakers and performers, including author Sir Michael Morpurgo; Oscar-winning Dune editor Joe Walker, actress Dame Harriet Walter and academic, writer and former politician Michael Ignatieff.

The program also includes quantum physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili; historian and broadcaster Tracy Borman; crime writer Ann Cleeves; evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar; Syrian musician and instrumentalist Maya Youssef; journalist Tim Dowling; writer and historian William Dalrymple; and flamenco and classical guitarist Galina Vale.

Festival director Joan Concannon said: “These are unstable times, so we are proud that the festival can provide a realistic perspective and incisive analysis of some of the most important issues facing the world in the 21st century. At the same time, we seek to make the pursuit of knowledge and discovery both entertaining and rewarding. Our new fully hybrid program will ensure that the festival is accessible to both citizens of York and audiences around the world. As always, we are extremely grateful to all our sponsors and partners, without whose support the Festival would not be possible.


Copies of the festival brochure are available from the Visit York Information Centre, 1 Museum Street, York and from public libraries in the city.


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