Going from strength to strength, Leeds International Festival of Ideas has been moved to a larger venue for the 2023 incarnation. After last year’s phenomenal success the programme for this year is even more impressive.

To mark the publication of the schedule of events a special launch was organised in the Bramall Rock Void where TV presenter Charlotte Leeming took charge of the presentation. After welcoming the guests she introduced Andrew Cooper, the Chief Executive of Leeds BID, the body behind the event.

He explained that the aim was to provide a selection of the most impressive thinkers in the country to discuss various topics and also include the most impressive local thinkers to showcase what Leeds has to offer. It turns out that quite a few of these people belong in both categories! He also thanked the sponsors and backers of the event; Leeds Playhouse, Welcome to Leeds and Weightmans Solicitors.

It then fell to Martin Dickson from Leeds BID to make the big reveal.

The format will be similar to the 2022 Festival, being held on consecutive days from 27th – 30th September. The presentations will take two forms, with 5 Panel Chats and 5 Fireside Chats.

Davina McCall

Wednesday, 27th September at 7.00pm will see a Panel Chat with the title ‘When will women’s health be taken seriously?’ It features Davina McCall, Dr Christine Ekechi, Lauren Mahon and others yet to be announced.

Steven Bartlett

On the same day at 7.30pm there will be a Fireside Chat by Steven Bartlett, ‘A New Generation of Entrepreneurism’.

Rob Rinder

Thursday, 28th September has a Fireside Chat at 12 noon by Rob Rinder called ‘The Invisible Rule of Law’, examining the ways in which the law affects us all in unexpected ways.

Matt Baker

Jay Blades MBE

Tommy Banks

That evening at 7.00 a star-studded line-up comprising Matt Baker, Tommy Banks, Jay Blades MBE, Flavia Cacace and Claire Lewis will ask ‘Could living the Good Life save the planet?’


At 7.30 there will also be the second Fireside Chat of the day from Bimini who will examine ‘A World Beyond Binary’.

Gemma Whelan

Friday, 29th September a Panel Chat poses the question ‘What is our obsession with True Crime?’ where the participants will be Louise Shorter, Richard McCann, Coltan Scrivner, Gemma Whelan and Mark Williams-Thomas.

Ruby Wax

That evening’s Fireside Chat at 7.30 is called ‘My Journey to Mindfulness’ and features Ruby Wax.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy

The final day of the Festival on 30th September is a busy one with two Panel Chats, the first at 2.30pm entitled ‘Who does our political system benefit?’ with Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Tom Brake, Magid Magid, Amber Rudd and Scarlett Westbrook.

The day’s Fireside Chat is at 3.00pm and is a two-hander with Sir Jon Cunliffe and Tom Duff Gordon discussing ‘The Other Side of the Coin’ which relates to cryptocurrency.

Dame Prue Leith

Will Young

The Festival comes to an end with a Panel Chat at 7.00pm and poses the question ‘How do we talk about grief?’ The panel for this consists of Dame Prue Leith, Jamilla Hussain, Silvan Luley, Lucy Turner and Will Young – yes, that Will Young!

As well as presenting the launch, Charlotte Leeming conducted a couple of interviews with panel members who were able to attend, and very interesting they were too. The first was with Richard McCann who is participating on the Friday discussion about our obsession with true crime. He is the son of the late Wilma McCann, one of Peter Sutcliffe’s victims. I found his views to be far from what I had expected and I am certain that he will bring a different perspective to the proceedings.

The second interviewee was Jamilla Hussain whose thoughts on how to talk about grief were enlightening and could equally apply to any situation where we find ourselves feeling as though we should say something but don’t know quite what.

Although sounding as though it could be a bit dry, or beyond the average person, after attending a few of last year’s events I found that the subjects were highly accessible and I am sure that you will come away from Leeds International Festival of Ideas 2023 looking at life in a much different way than when you left home.

For more details of the Festival and to book tickets, the prices of which range from £10-£15, please go to https://leedsinternationalfestival.com

All images provided by Chapter81

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