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Countdown begins to new Chester Festival of Ideas

Countdown begins to new Chester Festival of Ideas

The countdown is on to the start of a new summer festival in Chester aiming to entertain, inform and inspire and featuring names including Baroness Floella Benjamin.

Chester Festival of Ideas will run, for the first time ever, from Thursday July 4 to Sunday July 7, 2024.

The Festival will offer a programme of free, inclusive and accessible public events, in and around Chester, created by the University of Chester and partners.

Several speakers are already confirmed for the Festival, with events such as discussion panels, theatre, pop-up exhibitions, interactive activities, music, readings, guided walks and many more in the planning.

Actress, presenter, broadcaster, writer, campaigner and parliamentarian, Baroness Floella Benjamin, who has also been awarded an OBE, DBE (Officer and Damehood of the British Empire) and a Doctor of Letters from the University,is among the guests presenting free public talks. Speakers also include historian, writer, broadcaster, presenter and filmmaker, Professor David Olusoga, and GP and menopause specialist, Dr Louise Newson.

Chester Cathedral will host an ‘Assemble’ discussion forum, the Grosvenor Museum will run several ‘Shout Out’ events on its collections, Cheshire Archives and Local Studies will present its work with Cheshire Halton & Warrington Race & Equality Centre, and Chester Roman Tours will hold a session exploring diversity and culture in the Roman Army.

The Festival has a number of themes, which were chosen in collaboration with city partners to inspire the submission of further public events. They include: Sustainable Communities; Arts, Culture and Creativity; Health and Wellbeing; Investigating History; Scientific Futures, and Showcasing Business and Entrepreneurship.

A school project has also been launched on the Festival website for schools in the region, to enable them to contribute events, projects or pupil work focused around the theme of Sustainable Communities. In addition, some funding is available to support schools with project materials, resources and attending the Festival.

Chester Town Hall will be the hub for the Festival during the four days while events will also take place in other venues across Chester.

Members of the public and community groups are warmly invited to be part of the Festival and to submit their events through the Festival website from now until April 1.

Ideas for event types can also be found on the Festival website, and a final programme of events will be released to the public for booking towards the middle of May.

Katherine Wilson, Associate Professor of Later Medieval European History at the University of Chester, who is leading on the Festival, described the aims:

“We have set out to create a Festival of free, diverse, inclusive and accessible public events that will entertain, educate, inform and inspire, and encourage collaboration between different groups in Chester.”

Professor Paul Bissell, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University said:

“We are thrilled to launch Chester Festival of Ideas for July 2024 and look forward to working with partners, staff, students and the wider public to develop the programme, and bring people together for four days of free, accessible and stimulating events.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Leader, Councillor Louise Gittins added:

“The Council is delighted to be working with partners on the first ever Festival of Ideas in Chester. It’s going to be a fabulous four days for the city, with something for everyone.”

To keep up-to-date on the Festival, please visit:

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