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Countdown almost over to free, first-ever Chester Festival of Ideas

Chester Festival of Ideas organisers at the city’s town hall.

The wait is almost over with just days to go until the highly-anticipated, first-ever Chester Festival of Ideas.

People are urged not to miss the chance to enjoy the free Festival, featuring close to 100 events, organised by the University of Chester and partners from Thursday July 4 to Sunday July 7, 2024.

Speakers will share insights 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.

Offering celebratory, entertaining, informative and inspiring events, in and around the city, the Festival looks to bring people – as well as the past, present and future together.

Among events exploring the past are:

  • The Fascist Life: Radical Right Movements in Interwar Europe, a discussion by Professor Tim Grady from the University of Chester and Dr Roland Clark from the University of Liverpool.
  • History and the History Wars, a talk by historian, writer, broadcaster, presenter and filmmaker, Professor David Olusoga.

Events incorporating the past and present include:

  • Debating Death: The Archaeology of the Past and Present, presented by Professor Howard Williams from the University of Chester.
  • Facing Adversity with a Smile, a talk by actress, presenter, broadcaster, writer, campaigner and parliamentarian, Baroness Floella Benjamin, OBE, DBE, DL on her life and outlook.

Focusing on the present are:

  • Fighting Poverty and Stigma Together, an interactive event led by Dr Kim Ross and Jenn Robinson from the University of Chester, and featuring exhibits co-produced by West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission Community Inspirers and Social Justice Chester researchers.
  • Food as a Social Connector, an event led by Andrew Herbert, Free Church/Methodist Chaplain at the University of Chester.
  • Disunited Jukebox – A 21st Century Opera, a discussion about where ideas come from, featuring performances from the opera.

Some of the events covering the present and future include:

  • Why Net Zero Should be Easy: a Case Study of the Entopia Building Project?, a talk by Professor John French, Fellow at the Cambridge University for Sustainability Leadership and Advisor to the University of Chester.
  • Sustainability Walks to discover examples of a sustainable future that are already in evidence in and around Chester, presented by Transition Chester.

Looking further ahead are:

  • Prioritising Social Care: Ideas for the Future, a drop-in event led by Rhian Crompton, from the University of Chester’s Centre for Ageing and Mental Health.
  • AI and Democracy – Carole Cadwalladr in Conversation, the Pulitzer-nominated journalist will discuss what impact the next wave of tech disruption – generative AI – could have on democracies across the world.

Events will also be led by representatives from Chester Cathedral, schools, the Grosvenor Museum and Chester Roman Tours – to name just a few more contributors.

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

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

“The countdown is almost over to the Festival of Ideas.

“We’re thrilled to be so close to opening the Festival and to welcoming everyone to celebrate our city and its people, to explore the past, present and future, and our contributions to the wider world.

“We hope people really enjoy this opportunity to join together and hear and share learning and ideas. It’s open to all and there’s so much to choose from, with a diverse range of events, activities and subjects to discover.

“Time is still left to book places but the Festival’s in sight so don’t miss your chance to be part of a captivating, creative, fun and insightful four days.” 

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