Welcome to the Festival!

[The Festival of Big Ideas will not go ahead this year 🙁 We will be back in  2025.]

How to get to the festival

The festival is held at Horni Hrad castle which is about an hour and 40 minutes from Prague.

You can reach it by bus from Prague going via Karlovy Vary and we recommend downloading the IDOS app to find public transport (the app has an interface in English). Here are a couple of sample options:

What to pack

You’ll need:

  • a sleeping bag
  • a toothbrush
  • pen and paper
  • a towel

Basically the castle is pretty modern and comfortable and has electricity and intermittent wifi though we ask you to turn off your phones from breakfast until after dinner.

What more to bring

The weekend is all about the exchange of ideas and a curiosity to expand our world view. And people are curious about you, so come with some ideas to share! Specifically:

  • 3 practical ideas for how to make the world a better place. Perhaps you think everyone should go vegan? Maybe we need to reduce the world population? Or what about ruling by citizen’s assemblies? These 3 ideas will be conversation starters when you meet other guests.
  • a 5 minute talk to give in the chapel on Saturday evening. This is optional but a lot of fun. You can talk about anything that isn’t evangelical or pseudoscientific. To get a flavour of what we mean take a look at www.5minuteuniversity.com  We have room for about 20 talks so let us know if you plan to speak and we’ll add you to the list.
  • are you able to speak for 20 minutes about something? Let us know and we’ll see if there’s room in the schedule.
  • alternatively, is there some kind of workshop you run related to ideas, thinking and communication? Let us know…

What not to bring

We’re staying sober and conscious and inclusive for the duration of the festival so please leave at home:

  • alcohol and drugs
  • an addiction to your smartphone. You can use it before and after the program begins each day but the idea is not to look things up to back up your point of view but to express what you know and understand in your own words, and also to connect to the people who are there, not those who are far away.
  • belief systems, It’s okay with us if you’re a Christian, a communist, a vegan but we’re not here to convert other people to our point of view.

The Festival ethos

Anyone who has spent any time online in recent years will have seen the polarisation in points of view, the vitriolic debates and the toxic language that surfaces when people argue.

We want to create at the festival an atmosphere of non-adversarial communication where we discuss rather than debate. Where when we encounter, as we inevitably will, a difference in opinion, we spark a curiosity to understand why someone thinks differently than we do. We want to make each other partners in an exploration of a topic rather than opponents attempting to defeat each other with powerful, crowd-pleasing rhetoric.

How are we going to do this?

Honestly, it’s an experiment but here are a few protocols we’d like to put into place:

  • often enough the trouble is less than someone doesn’t agree with us than we don’t feel they’ve understood what we’ve said. So let’s endeavour to ask questions about someone’s position before we rush in with criticisms. And at any point in a conversation, if we’re not sure we have been heard we can simply say ‘echo’ – an invitation for the other person to summarise what you’ve been saying to make sure you’re on the same page.
  • at other times it might seem that you are simply on different islands. Worlds apart. If this happens you can invite the person with whom you’re speaking to ‘swap?’ If they accept, you then continue the conversation but arguing the opposite point of view that you hold! It can be quite an experience for say, a feminist to argue that the natural role of women is to make a cosy home 🙂
  • if someone is dominating the conversation and taking too long to make their point, just politely raise your index finger to let them know they should begin to wrap up their point and give you a chance to respond.
  • If a conversation gets to too overwhelming and you simply want out then you just bring your hands together like a namaste salute and that’s it, the chat is over. You can smile and walk away without any offence having been given.

The program for the festival is in evolution but essentially it will be a mixture of talks, discussions and workshops – please be patient, we’re a volunteer team and this is our first year 🙂

See you all soon!

The festival team.