An extreme theme for Cambridge Festival of Ideas

PUBLISHED: 12:26 03 October 2018

The Cambridge Festival of Ideas returns between October 15 and October 28. Picture: Gwilym Rowbottom

The Cambridge Festival of Ideas returns between October 15 and October 28. Picture: Gwilym Rowbottom


The Cambridge Festival of Ideas is an annual celebration of arts, humanities and the social sciences – and it’s now less than two weeks away.

Spread across the city from October 15 to 28, it boasts debates, sessions with intellectual professionals and interactive exhibits for both adults and children to get their teeth into.

Festival manager Ariel Retik says the 2018 theme of ‘the extreme’ has been inspired by the nature of our modern society. He said: “Everything seems to be growing more extreme – whether politics, income inequality, the climate or technology – and we want to explore this.”

Contributing to the 11th year of festivities is Tim Slade, a film director, who will be attending the festival to speak about his screening of ‘The Destruction of Memory’.

He is one of many other notable professionals to feature, such as Baroness Valerie Amos, musician Evelyn Glennie, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Professor David Runciman and bestselling author Tara Westover.

Some of the prepared debates include topics such as artificial intelligence and its future collaboration or competition with humans in the workplace, the stereotypes of feminism and the pressures facing the European Union.

Families with curious children may like to take advantage of the festival to help quell the tedious TV days of half term. There are many child-orientated events going on such as ‘Under the (plastic) sea’, ‘Face to face with medieval Cambridge’and generally entertaining workshops such as ‘The library presents: comedy 4 kids’. For a more teen-appropriate atmosphere there are many events ranging from: ‘From selfies to runes: how do we want to be remembered? (20 Oct)’and ‘Young Britain: culture and identity’.

As well as talks, debates and screenings, the festival of ideas also offers performances at Cambridge Junction.

And this year features a more nutritious focus, concerning the subject of health. From diet to altruistic attitudes, the social and psychological impacts of health as well as the physic are being debated and explored by a panel. On October 17, for example, you can discover: Does marriage make us healthier?

Book either by calling 01223 766766 or visiting, where you can view the full programme of events.


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