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Full line-up unveiled as bookings open for free, first-ever Chester Festival of Ideas

Bookings have opened for almost 100, free Chester Festival of Ideas events as the full line-up is announced for the inaugural, four-day summer highlight.

Organised by the University of Chester and partners, the final, exciting, diverse, inclusive and accessible programme of events launches today (May 20) as the countdown passes 50-days to go.

Aiming to celebrate, entertain, inform and inspire, the Festival takes place from Thursday July 4 to Sunday July 7, 2024, in and around Chester. All the details are available and places can now be booked on the Festival of Ideas website.

Speakers will talk on a range of topics, with activities such as discussion panels, theatre, pop-up exhibitions, interactive activities, music, readings, guided walks and more to discover.

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. She will discuss her life and ‘Facing Adversity With a Smile’. Speakers also include historian, writer, broadcaster, presenter and filmmaker, Professor David Olusoga, who will look at ‘History and the History Wars’ and GP and menopause specialist, Dr Louise Newson, highlighting the subject as well as perimenopause.

Further additions to the schedule include a talk from Dr Gyles Brandreth, Chancellor of the University of Chester, on ‘The Idea of Happiness – And How to Achieve It’ while Pulitzer-nominated journalist Carole Cadwalladr, who exposed the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, will focus on ‘AI and Democracy’.

Chester Cathedral will host an ‘Assemble’ discussion forum, the Grosvenor Museum will run several ‘Shout Out’ events on its collections, Chester Roman Tours will hold a session exploring diversity and culture in the Roman Army and the creators of Disunited Jukebox – drawn from the best orchestras in the UK and a cast of contemporary dancers – will lead a discussion about where ideas come from, featuring performances from the opera.

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

Katherine Wilson, Associate Professor of Later Medieval European History at the University of Chester, who is leading on the Festival, said that it offered something for everyone, covering a range of themes chosen with partners: Sustainable Communities; Arts, Culture and Creativity; Health and Wellbeing; Investigating History; Scientific Futures, and Showcasing Business and Entrepreneurship.

She added:

“From insights shared by well-known figures nationally to events looking at animal psychology, to tips on upcycling and exploring the fascination with ghosts, to opportunities for play and family activities, there are options for all at the first-ever Festival of Ideas.

“We’re extremely excited to launch the full programme of almost 100 events, open bookings and create this new Festival for Chester, providing the chance to connect, learn, celebrate, be inspired by and enjoy all that’s happening.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and input we’ve received for the Festival – thank you to all who are part of the programme and its planning, and we look forward to welcoming everyone in July.”

Councillor Lisa Denson, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cabinet Member for A Fairer Future added:

“What a fantastic line-up for Chester’s newest festival. The Chester Festival of Ideas is being held over four packed days meaning yet again our city will be the centre of attention. Celebrating the rich history and heritage, the Council is delighted to join forces with the University welcoming festival visitors to Chester Town Hall, the Grosvenor Museum, City Walls and Chester itself.”

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