NEW events have been added to the exciting, diverse and free line-up for the first-ever Chester Festival of Ideas this summer.

With an extensive programme already in store, more choices have been announced for the Festival, organised by the University of Chester and partners. It aims to entertain, inform and inspire and takes place from Thursday July 4 to Sunday July 7, 2024.

The schedule is set to continue to grow in the run-up. People are urged to keep an eye on the Festival of Ideas website, and while the deadline is in sight, members of the public and community groups still have time to submit their events.

The latest 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. On Saturday July 6, Gyles will explore the idea of happiness as it has developed across the centuries and introduce his seven Secrets of Happiness.

A 21st Century Opera joins Gyles’ talk as new to the bill, on Sunday July 7. 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 smaller-scale extracts from the opera in an exclusive live performance specially created for the Festival of Ideas.

The Migration Stories North West exhibition has also been announced for Thursday July 4; a National Lottery Heritage Fund-project mapping histories of migration in and out of the North West of England, from the Roman period to the present day. 

Everyone is warmly invited to be part of the Festival and to submit further events through the Festival website from now until April 1. Ideas for event types can also be found on the Festival website.

A final programme of events will be released to the public for booking towards the middle of May.

The Festival will offer a programme of inclusive and accessible public events, in and around Chester. Speakers are lined-up to talk on a range of topics, with activities such as discussion panels, theatre, pop-up exhibitions, interactive activities, music, readings, guided walks and more on offer.

Announced earlier this year, 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.

Chester Cathedral will host an ‘Assemble’ discussion forum, the Grosvenor Museum will run several ‘Shout Out’ events on its collections, Cheshire Archives and Local Studies will present its work with Cheshire Halton & Warrington Race & Equality Centre, and Chester Roman Tours will hold a session exploring diversity and culture in the Roman Army.

A school project has also been launched on the Festival website for schools in the region, to enable them to contribute events, projects or pupil work focused around the theme of Sustainable Communities. In addition, some funding is available to support schools with project materials, resources and attending the Festival.

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