York Festival of Ideas 2016: Your guide to a mind-boggling event

It’s back. One of the largest free festivals in the UK returns on Tuesday (June 7) for three weeks of mind-expanding events.

York Festival of Ideas 2016

Various venues

June 7-19, 2016

More details

Last year York Festival Of Ideas attracted more than 31,500 people. This year the theme of the festival is Tick Tock.

Whether you’re looking for a mind-blowing philosophical lecture, a guide to York’s past, a writers’ workshop or just something to keep the kids occupied, we can guarantee there’ll be something for you.

With more than 150 (absolutely free!) events to choose from, finding something you’d like to attend isn’t easy. That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to the unmissable highlights of this year’s festival.

Start with a bang

A Trident missile launched from a Royal Navy submarine. Photograph © Wikipedia
A Trident missile launched from a Royal Navy submarine. Photograph © Wikipedia

The festival’s opening night is inspired by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock report 3 Minutes to Midnight – measuring humanity’s close proximity to global catastrophe. Professor Sivan Kartha, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists board member, is among the experts exploring the rising threats of climate change and nuclear arms proliferation. More here.

A series of seven focus days will further delve into some of today’s most complex global challenges, including the EU Referendum and the Future of Food.

Events for families

Look out a zombie's about. Ste Dunn / Prince Wor photography for Naomi Naylor
Look out a zombie’s about. Ste Dunn / Prince Wor photography for Naomi Naylor

Watch out, zombies are taking over York! But don’t worry, help is close at hand. Join University of York scientists for Zombies in York! and dissect a captured zombie and study the infectious agent causing the outbreak. Help save the day as you examine the zombie’s blood, play with its brains and more. An interactive, hands-on workshop aimed at children aged eight to 12 – but fun for adults too. More details here.

More Events for Families

Event Venue Time
Little Feet Festival of Children’s Theatre York Theatre Royal and De Grey Rooms Tues 7-Sun 12 June
Maths on the Go St Peter’s School, Clifton Fri 10 June, 7-8pm
Psych!York: Interactive Family Fun The Guildhall Sat 11 June, 10am-5pm
Festival Fringe Family Fun Afternoon Ron Cooke Hub, University of York Sat 11 June, 1:30-4:30pm
York Art Gallery Storytelling York Art Gallery Sat June 11
The Need For Speed Interactive Challenge York Station Sat June 18, 10-11:30am
Play Me! York St John University Sat June 18, 12-4pm
Make A Lego Memory Explore York Library Sun June 19, 11.30am-3pm

Events for writers

Illustrations by the wonderful Quentin Blake
Illustrations by the wonderful Quentin Blake

Author, curator and lecturer Chislaine Kenyon offers a fresh perspective of the well-known artist, Quentin Blake, a figure who is so much more than Roald Dahl’s illustrator.

Kenyon collaborated with Blake himself. In Quentin Blake: Artist, Teacher, Healer she will discuss Blake’s drawings made for hospitals, theatres, building wraps, and private settings alongside his much-loved images from the Roald Dahl books. Tuesday, June 7 at 6.30pmmore here.

More events for writers Venue Time
Writing Without Time
York St John Sat Jun 18 @ 2pm
Wounds, Healing, Poetry: A Writing Workshop King’s Manor Sat Jun 11 @ 2.30pm
Ideas to Publication: What Works for Us Explore York Sat Jun 11 @ 10.30am
The Metrical and Emotional Challenge of the Sonnet York University Thurs Jun 9 @ 10am

Events about science

A chemistry lesson from Breaking Bad
A chemistry lesson from Breaking Bad

Just how realistic is TV show Breaking Bad? York University chemistry professor David Smith explores some of the chemistry underpinning the show to find the answer.

David will explain whether you could really use hydrofluoric acid to dispose of a dead body in a bathtub and discuss a new theory as to why Heisenberg’s crystal meth might be blue. On Thursday, June 16more here.

More science events Venue Time
Mysterious Minds and Bothersome Bodies Various Sat Jun 11 & Sun Jun 12
Origins of YOU – Times TWO Wed Jun 15 York University
Fly Through Evolution! York Explore Tues Jun 7-Sun Jun 19
Magnetic Stimulation of the Brain National Science Learning Centre Wed Jun 8

Events for history buffs

Experience a century of York life captured on film, from royal visits to women singing on Rowntree’s production line. Watch highlights from the Yorkshire Film Archive’s collection and enjoy a delicious cream tea, served with tea of coffee in the Belmont Suite of Betty’s tearooms on St Helen’s Square. Tuesday, June 6more here.

More history Venue Time
The York Historical Atlas Explained St Oswalds Sat Jun 18
Fragile Heritage Various Sun Jun 19
Histories of the Middle East: Then and Now York St John Fri Jun 17
The Private Lives of the Saints St Helen’s Church Sat Jun 11
Understanding Maximilien Robespierre York University Thu Jun 9
Countdown to Canute Barley Hall Thu June 9
Where is York’s Lost Amphitheatre? Tempest Anderson Hall Thu Jun 9
Biblio-trek: Walking York’s Print History Exhibition Square Sat Jun 18
Passion, Mystery and Performance: The First Two Centuries of the York Plays King’s Manor Tue Jun 7
Shaping the Body: A Conversation Castle Museum Thu Jun 9
Tick Tock: Stories of Clocks York University Thu Jun 9
Mystery Plays at the Minster 2000 and 2016 King’s Manor Weds Jun 8

Political and current affairs

Chancellor George Osborne. Photograph © altogetherfool on flickr
Chancellor George Osborne. Photograph © altogetherfool on flickr

In Seeking the Holy Grail: An Economy that Works for Everyone, commentators will take part in a range of talks throughout the Friday June 17 exploring the meeting point of political and economic decision-making. Speakers include Guardian columnist Owen Jones, leading economist John Kay, Sir Julian Legrand of the London School of Economics (LSE), and author Lynsey Hanley – more here.

More politics and current affairs: Venue Time
Living with Floods Various Sat Jun 11
The EU Referendum Various Thu Jun 16
Fragile States Various Sat Jun 18

Events to get you thinking

Albert Einstein. Photograph © Ferdinand Schmutzer on Wikimedia
Albert Einstein. Photograph © Ferdinand Schmutzer on Wikimedia

We often see ourselves moving forward through time, taking the present moment with us, imagining it as a distinct moment which splits the past that no longer exists from the future that is about to exist. Einstein’s theories suggest something else. The ‘present’ moment may not be the same for everyone, and what is present might even depend on how fast you are moving.

In No Time Like the Present?, Mary Leng, Barry Lee and Christ Fewster of the University of York weave a mind-boggling exploration of time. Wednesday, Jun 15more here.

More smart thinking Venue Time
What if …? Worrying and the Modern World York University Wed Jun 8
Experiencing the Past York University Tue Jun 7
Mythology: The Complete Guide to our Imagined Worlds King’s Manor Wed Jun 8

Food, drink and more

Bottoms up!
Bottoms up!

Join Richard Godwin, author of The Spirits: A Guide to Modern Cocktailing, as he conveys you through the annals of cocktail-making history. Dedicated to demystifying the art of ‘mixology’, Richard demonstrates that making sophisticated cocktails is amazingly easy and surprisingly cheap.

More of a mix Venue Time
How to Eat Better and More Sustainably National Science Learning Centre Fri Jun 10
Bees and Beetles Workshop Museum Gardens Thur Jun 9
LUMA Film Festival York University Sat Jun 11 & Sun Jun 12
Tick Tock: Take a Snap photography exhibition York Station Tues Jun 7-Sun Jun 19