Festival of Big Ideas Program

So…what happens at the Festival of Big Ideas?

On one level, it’s an opportunity to stay in a medieval castle and have really interesting conversations with 75 other people who also read interesting books and listen to podcasts just as you do 🙂

The theme of the 2024 Festival of Big Ideas is What is it to be Human?

We’ll be inviting speakers with intriguing takes on the question from a variety of fields and you’ll get the chance to hear/read them before you come so that in the sessions themselves you can interact with the speakers as they organise discussions and explorations in smaller groups.

And along with the talks there will be workshops on more practical themes such as the art of rhetoric, storytelling, visual communication and conflict resolution.

There will be morning mindfulness meditations in the castle arboretum to give us the calm and composure we need to feel free to change our minds when we hear a persuasive point of view rather than doubling down for dear life on our core beliefs.

And we’ll also be having plenty of fun with community games involving everyone at the festival, there will be soap box sessions where people can get up in the chapel and share a 3 minute rant on how they would like to change the world, and at night there will be musicians making music around the fire for you to sing and dance to.

You’ll stay in the castle itself in dormitory rooms (or find a hotel in the town 10km away) and have all your meals there – we’ll eat together in an underground cave room lit by candles. And there will be a tea room where you can go at any time to get a tea or coffee and have an interesting chat with somoene.

No phones are allowed once breakfast has begun until dinner is over. We’re here to be with each other. And to that end we’ll assort everyone into Idea Pods where each morning you can share a tea and share the insights, ideas and feelings you’re experiencing at the festival

So here’s what a day at the Festival of Big Ideas might look like:

7 am – morning mindfulness in the blooming gardens of the castle arboretum

8 am – breakfast and your first coffee of the day

9 am – meeting with your Ideas Pod

9.30 am – a session on How are Humans Different Than Monkeys?

or at the same time a workshop on How to Talk in a Way That People Actually Want to Hear What You Have to Say.

11.30 pm – 2 minute speeches on How to Change the World in the castle chapel

12.30 pm

2 pm – a session on How We Make Culture and How Culture Makes Us

or at the same time a workshop on  The Art of Non-Violent Communication

4 pm – a session on How History May Remember Us

or at the same time a workshop on How to Argue Someone Else’s Viewpoint

6.30 pm  dinner

8 pm – Live music and dancing