World of Wonder: York Festival of Ideas 2019 launches biggest programme yet

03rd May 2019

World of Wonder: York Festival of Ideas 2019 launches biggest programme yet

The double award-winning York Festival of Ideas returns from 4-16 June 2019 with a programme of over 200 mostly-free events on the theme of “World of Wonder”.

The Festival begins on 4 June with an evening launch event in partnership with York Minster hosted by distinguished journalist Anne McElvoy.


She will introduce Astronomer Royal and bestselling author Martin Rees; award-winning journalist and author Misha Glenny and former Beirut hostage, humanitarian and author Terry Waite.

In the magnificent setting of the Minster, the speakers will explore the festival theme; reflecting on society, humanity and the future of science.

On the day of the launch, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme will also be broadcast from the University of York in front of a live audience.

Renowned speakers

Now in its ninth year, the festival’s programme of talks, exhibitions, theatre, music, film, guided walks and children’s activities features a plethora of renowned speakers including film-maker Mike Leigh; Debbie Horsfield – BAFTA award winning writer of the BBC’s hit drama, Poldark; historian Tracy Borman and broadcaster Gavin Esler.

BBC Radio 3 will record an evening of talks from dynamic speakers, on topics ranging from 18th-century personal grooming to soldiers on the Berlin wall and gangsters in Glasgow, as part of their New Generation Thinkers scheme.

Other highlights include events with V&A ‘Dior’ curator Oriole Cullen; economist David Blanchflower; chef Frances Atkins; social geographer Danny Dorling and poet Paul Muldoon.

Focus days with experts will explore complex issues including toleration, poverty and how to deliver a fair economy for all. Audiences will have the chance to engage with in-depth discussions on the value of higher education to society, the relationship between creativity and science and the ability of artificial intelligence to improve lives. How cultural identity in France and Britain is expressed by food, fashion and feminism will also be explored.


Joan Concannon, Director of York Festival of Ideas, said: “In just nine years the York Festival of Ideas, led by the University of York, in partnership with more than 100 partners, has become one of the largest free festivals of its kind in the UK. We thank all our donors and partners for making this possible.

“We are all driven by a passionate belief that education and ideas transforms lives. The Festival celebrates the incredible power of the imagination, showcases the ability of humans to tackle seemingly impossible questions through research, collaboration and creativity, and pays tribute to those people who have achieved the unimaginable.

“In a world which seems more divided than ever, bringing different voices and opinions to share ideas and inspire change is integral. 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 an audience of over 40,000.

After winning the award for Best Cultural Event or Festival at the York Culture awards in 2017, the Festival scooped the award for Outstanding Cultural Festival (Large) in 2018.

The York Festival of Ideas 2019 website launches on Friday 3 May and tickets for all festival events are available from Tuesday 7 May. To see the full festival programme and to book tickets visit

For the full story please see the University of York website.