York will be fizzing with ideas again in June, when the Festival of Ideas returns for its fourth year. Tickets are available from today. STEPHEN LEWIS reports
HOW should we respond to the crisis in Ukraine? Will we be able to feed the world as the population grows towards nine billion? Do religion and science really need to be at war with each other? What is the future of banking? And should we be in or out of the Eurozone?
Just some of the questions that will be debated at this year's York Festival of Ideas, which runs from June 12 to 22.
To mark the fact that 2014 is the100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, the festival's theme this year is 'order and chaos'.
But that leaves plenty of scope. Arts, science, politics, literature, history and medicine will collide in more than 140 events being held at venues across the city.
War Horse author Michael Morpurgo will be in conversation in a free event at York Theatre Royal; Ann Frank's step-sister Eva Schloss will talk about surviving Auschwitz; there will be a debate about how northern cities can better compete with the giant 'city state' that is 21st-century London; and chemist Dave Smith will reveal the hidden science behind your cream tea – in an event being held at Bettys, of course.
Anthony Horowitz will talk about his new Bond novel during a series of events and talks involving crime writers. And, as part of a theme focusing on York's Anglian past, festival-goers will even have the chance to sample some genuine Anglo-Saxon ale – or at least, a new brew made to an authentic Anglo-Saxon recipe.
The festival officially opens on the evening of Thursday June 12 with a keynote debate – The Crossroads of Conflict – about how we should best respond to global crises such as the tension in Ukraine, the civil war in Syria and the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria.
This, the launch event, will see Sir Roger Dalton – Britain's first Ambassador to Libya after the lifting of sanctions – talking about whether the international response to such situations is working.
James Rubin, a former US Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton years, will then discuss the United States's role in peace keeping, before a panel discussion involving the likes of the BBC's chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet.
At least, Doucet is hoping to be here, says festival director Joan Concannon. Whether she makes it may depend on whether she is called upon to report on yet another international crisis. "But she's very keen to come."
As usual, this year's festival – the fourth – will be a mix of science, politics, history and other disciplines: mixing things up creates sparks and 'new dimensions', says Joan. And as usual, it is for everyone.
Most events are free (although you will need to book tickets, because places are limited), and they will be held at venues across the city: from the Acomb Explore Library, the Theatre Royal, Bettys and St Helen's Church to the National Centre for Early Music, St Peter's School, the Merchant Adventurer's Hall and the University of York, which organises the festival.
You don't need any specialist knowledge to attend any of the events, Joan stresses. "Just an enquiring mind."
The festival is rapidly becoming a highlight of York's cultural calender, says Joan, as well as being yet another reason for visitors to come to York.
"We believe that (it) embodies the adventurous spirit of the City of York - a city that has always been open to new ideas," she says.
Tickets for all 140-plus events - most of which are free - are available from today. So go on, check out the festival brochure online, and make sure you don't miss out...
For a full Festival of Ideas programme and tickets visit www.yorkfestivalofideas.com
Here, meanwhile, are a few selected highlights:
The Crossroads of Conflict - the world's response to global crises. Keynote talks plus panel debate. Sir Ron Cooke Hub, University of York, 6pm, Thursday June 12. Free but tickets required. Book early
Life during the Holocaust: Eva Schloss, Anne Frank's stepsister, talks about how she and her mother survived Auschwitz. Berrick Saul Building, University of York, Sunday June 22, 2pm. Free but tickets required
The City State: how to create more and better jobs. Panel discussion about how other parts of Britain can thrive in an economy dominated by London. Followed by panel debate on The Future of Banking. Ron Cooke Hub, University of York, Friday June 20, 11.45am to 3pm. Free but tickets required
The Fulford Tapestry. Chance to see York's unique tapestry commemorating the Battle of Fulford, which took a team of volunteers seven years to make. St Helen's Church, throughout the festival. Entry free, no ticket required
Beer and Beowulf: an Anglo-Saxon poetry evening. Duke of York, King's Square, Thursday June 19, 8.30pm. Listen to Anglo-Saxon poetry and try some Eoforwic Ale, brewed to a traditional Anglo-Saxon recipe. Entry free, no ticket required
York Design Awards 2014: exhibition of projects submitted for this year's award. Ron Cooke Hub, University of York, Thursday June 19, 10am to 8pm. Free, no ticket required
Bricks and Mortals: can buildings change our lives for the better? Tom Wilkinson looks at buildings down the ages. Ron Cooke hub, university of York, Thursday June 19, 6pm. Free, but tickets required.
Dinner With Mr Darcy: an exploration of the meals and recipes enjoyed by characters in Jane Austen's novels. Bettys, Friday June 13, 6pm. Tickets £12.95
The Challenge of Feeding 9-10 Billion People. How will we feed the world in future? Should we eat less meat, or develop GM foods and meat grown from stem cells? Population biologist Charles Godfrey looks into the future. Ron Cooke Hub, University of York, Saturday June 14, 11am. Free, but tickets required
The Hidden Science of Afternoon Tea: chemist Dave Smith looks at the chemistry of cream tea. Bettys, Tuesday June 17, 12.30 lunchtime. Tickets £12.95
EMPIRE AND TRADE
York: The making of a City 1068-1350. Historian Sarah Rees-Jones on how York's merchant adventurers helped make the city. Merchant Adventurers' Hall, Wednesday June 18, 7pm. Tickets free, but booking required
Order and chaos and music: what makes sound ordered, and what make it into music? National Centre for Early Music, Monday June 16, 7.30pm. Tickets £6.
TOUR De FRANCE
The Tour, TV and Me: ITV presenter Neil Boulting on 12 years of following the Tour. St Peter's School, Friday June 13, 7pm. Free, but tickets required
MURDER THEY WROTE
Anthony Horowitz in conversation. Rone Cooke Hub, University of York, Saturday June 21, 10.30am. Free, but tickets required
Inside the Human Body: seeing with ultrasound. Extraordinary ultrasound images revealing how the body works. IPEM, Fairmount House, 230 Tadcaster Road, Thursday June 12, 7pm Tickets free, but booking required
RELIGION AND SCIENCE
The nature of religion, science and health. Do religion and science have to be at war? Debate. St Peter's School, Wednesday June 18, 5.45pm Tickets free, but booking required
SPARKS - CHILDREN'S EVENTS
An Audience with Michael Morpurgo: the War Horse author in conversation. York Theatre Royal, Thursday June 19, 6pm. Free but tickets required
SCIENCE OUT OF THE LAB
Science Museum Live Presents: The Energy Show. Science experiments live on stage. Theatre Royal, Wednesday June 11, 7pm, and Thursday June 12, 11am. Tickets £15 (schools £10)
Science Out Of The Lab: interactive science event. Parliament Street, York, Friday June 13 and Saturday June 14, 10am to 3pm Free, no ticket required
Leading From The Top: Gavin Esler draws on 30 years of interviewing the great and the good to discuss what makes great leaders. National Science Learning Centre, Saturday June 22, 3.30pm Tickets free but booking required
Empress Dowager Cixi. Wild Swans author Jung Chang on her new book, about the Chinese Empress Cixi, a contemporary of Queen Victoria. National Science Learning Centre, Saturday June 22, 5.15pm. Tickets free, but booking required.
The York Festival of Ideas is organised by the University of York, and sponsored by organisations including The Holbeck Trust, The Joseph Rowntree Trust, Quorn, the Shepherd Group and the Institute of Engineering and Technology.