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Battle of Ideas Festival 2019

Two day of high-level, thought-provoking debate at the Barbican - Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 November 2019

9:30am, Saturday 2 November 2019, Barbican, Silk Street, London

The Battle of Ideas is a weekend of lively debate and discussion on today’s most pressing political, cultural and artistic issues. The weekend will tackle tough contemporary questions through wide-ranging, thought-provoking and wonderfully argumentative debate. An antidote to today’s climate of offence taking, the festival slogan is: FREE SPEECH ALLOWED.

Coming at a crucial time for politics and society, the Battle of Ideas is the forum to get to grips with the current political maelstrom. When the world seems more divided than ever, the festival will be a living example of the importance of frank, serious but respectful public debate.

Ticket prices start at £30 (and a wide variety of concessions), so there is plenty of opportunity for everyone to get involved in discussing the key issues of our time at the UK’s premier festival of ideas.

We look forward to welcoming you to the festival! Early-bird tickets are available until MONDAY 30 SEPTEMBER, and we have huge discounts for school pupils and students.


This year, our keynotes will take a step back from the cut-and-thrust of daily politics to tackle some fundamental questions about political life, such as: Who are ‘the people’? and Who are ‘the establishment’? as well as if there is a crisis of trust and whether the future is one of extinction or progress?

We’ll be trying to move the conversation on from doom-and-gloom and ask how we can solve some 21st Century problems from climate change to creating a new industrial revolution.

Join us for these and other strands including:

- Identity Politics
- Eye on the World
- In Conversation with Dissidents
- Science and Society
- Podcasts Live

There is a huge range of topics under discussion in over 100 sessions, including:

Woke corporations: responsible capitalism or virtue signalling? • Can we deplore the artist but love the art? • Gross-out feminism: is the political now too personal? • Do we need a Green New Deal? • Is socialism making a comeback? • Can we stop World War III? • From robots to AI: Can you build a human? • From Peterson to incels: is there a generation of lost boys? • How to read a poem • The rise of toxic politics • Schemers or dreamers? The role of political advisors

You can see an overview of the festival programme here


Paul Embery •  Frank Furedi • Andrew Doyle • Anand Menon • Robert Plomin • Andrew Adonis • Titania McGrath • Anne McElvoy • Brendan O’Neill •  Maurice Glasman •  Jacob Mchangama • Blythe Pepino • Ivan Hewett • Deborah Lipstadt • Katharine Birbalsingh • Tim Parks • Timandra Harkness • Vicky Pryce • Elif Shafak • Julia Hobsbawm • Steve Richards • Julian Baggini • and many more.

Get your tickets now and join the debate! Visit our tickets page here

See you at the Barbican on 2nd and 3rd November.

Alastair Donald & Ella Whelan
co-convenors, Battle of Ideas festival

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