The Bristol Festival of Ideas aims to stimulate people’s minds and passions with an inspiring programme of discussion and debate throughout the year.

Background/

Established in 2004, the Bristol Festival of Ideas emerged out of Bristol’s bid to be Capital of Culture in 2008.

We wanted more debate in the city. We also wanted to celebrate the work of great writers, commentators and thinkers in and outside the city.

The Festival of Ideas is an initiative of Bristol Cultural Development Partnership (BCDP) (Bristol City Council, BusinessWest, University of Bristol, University of the West of England).

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BCDP was founded in 1993 to promote and develop long-term projects; develop better marketing, fundraising and profile-raising for the city; initiate and lead cultural and heritage projects; and organise and manage campaigns which bring together the partners and others.

To date it has held over 2,000 Festival of Ideas events as well as leading major programmes on Brunel, Charles Darwin and the Bristol aerospace industry: the Great Reading Adventure, including The Siege (2005), Around the World in Eighty Days (2006), Small Island (2007), The Bristol Story (2008) and The Lost World (2009); and the biggest project marking the beginning of the First World War outside of London. In 2015 we had a special season on Romantic Poets and Bristol. Work in 2016 included Bristol800, a year-long series of events celebrating significant anniversaries starting with the 800th anniversary of Bristol’s first elected mayor.

BCDP also led the initial development of At-Bristol, Encounters Festivals, Digital Arts Development Agency, South West Arts Marketing and Bristol Legible City, among many other projects.

BCDP is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

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The Festival of Ideas is run in association with the Observer.

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BCDP is a member of Bristol Festivals.

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No BCDP partners are responsible for the FOI programme and speakers invited. Please see our Freedom of Speech policy.