A RECORD-BREAKING 32,000 people went to events at the York Festival of Ideas this year - hearing everyone from Harriet Harman and Michael Rosen and the curators from the V & A.

New audience figures released by the festival’s organisers show the 186 events attracted more visitors than ever before.

Festival director Joan Concannon said: “We are thrilled at this year’s unprecedented figures and enthusiastic audience feedback, and a huge thank you goes out to the 96 city and national partners who help us to deliver such a compelling festival programme.”

She added: “The aim of the festival is to educate, entertain and inspire through showcasing the power of ideas, bringing together research by York academics and fantastic speakers and performers from all over the world.”

With a theme of “The Story of Things: a celebration of human ingenuity and invention” the events, more and 150 of which were free, were hosted across the city from 6-18 June 2017.

This year was the festival’s seventh, and it featured a unique launch event on BBC Radio 3.

Speakers included poet and novelist Michael Rosen; Harriet Harman MP; former Shadow Chancellor and Strictly star Ed Balls; Aardman animation studio co-founder Peter Lord; Guardian columnist Tim Dowling; cultural commentator Peter York; the Reverend Richard Coles; and the V&A curatorial teams.

Planning is already underway for “Imagining the Impossible”, the 2018 festival, Ms Concannon added.

“We hope to continue this trend in 2018 - we’re currently in the midst of putting together a packed programme with something to interest everyone. “York truly is a city of ideas, innovation and inspiration, and we look forward to seeing everyone next year.”

The attendance figures for 2017 came from a survey of festival attendees, which also found more than 44 per cent were first time visitors, and more than 95 per cent likely to return in 2018.