Art & Culture

Leeds International Festival of Ideas announces full festival line-up for ‘biggest year yet’

Joining Steven Bartlett, Bimini and Ruby Wax OBE at this year's festival.

Sophie Smith Sophie Smith - 5th April 2023

Journalists, chefs, comedians, writers, members of parliament and TV personality aplenty will be filling Leeds with debate over a huge four day festival.

Leeds International Festival of Ideas is set to host the UK’s ‘biggest celebration of new ideas’, with fireside chats and panel discussions with the likes of Davina McCall, Will Young, Dame Prue Leith and Matt Baker.

Just over the Pennines TV barrister and University of Manchester alumni Rob Rinder will be bringing ‘the rule of law’ to life whilst Northern journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy takes on the question: ‘Who does our political system benefit?’ – but that’s just the beginning…

Taking place this September inside new venue Leeds Playhouse, this is set to be LIFI’s biggest year to date, The Hoot reports.

Announcing the full line-up last night, festival organisers have revealed that the likes of Davina McCall, Dame Prue Leith and Will Young, will be taking to the stage alongside huge names from the world of entertainment, politics and business, including Yorkshire’s Michelin starred chef Tommy Banks, Matt Baker MBE, Jay Blades MBE, Gemma Whelan, Amber Rudd, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Rob Rinder, Sir Jon Cuncliffe, and many more.


These exciting names will be joining TV personality Bimini, who will be talking about ‘a world beyond the binary’; author and comedian Ruby Wax OBE will be bringing ‘my journey to mindfulness’ to life with a key note speaker show whilst ‘a new generation of entrepreneurism’ will be covered by Diary of a CEO’s Steven Bartlett.

Working in partnership with LeedsBID, The Hoot Leeds and Weightmans, the idea of the festival is to bring conversations to the surface, using a combination of panels, fireside chats and speeches to inspire, provoke and encourage discussions.


Questions vary from ‘what’s our obsession with true crime?’ to ‘who does our political system benefit?’ and ‘how do we talk about grief?’ – and this year’s line-up certainly won’t be shying away from the hard questions.

Will Young, appearing at LIFI23 says: “I’m excited to be part of a festival exploring many of the things that make us human. It’s so important not only to ask these questions of each other, but to spend time listening when we don’t have all the answers. What a fantastic line up!”

Leeds International Festival of Ideas Full Line-up

Wednesday 27 September 2023

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Davina McCall will be on the panel for ‘when will women’s health be taken seriously’. / Image: Chapter 81

Panel: When will women’s health be taken seriously? with Davina McCall, Dr Christine Ekechi and Lauren Mahon, plus more names to be announced


Fireside chat: A New Generation Of Entrepreneurism with Steven Bartlett

Tickets are available here.

Thursday 28 September 2023

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Bimini will be talking about ‘a world beyond the binary’. / Image: Chapter 81

Panel: Could living The Good Life save the planet? with Matt Baker, Tommy Banks, Jay Blades MBE, Flavia Cacace and Clare Lewis

Fireside chat: Invisible rule of law with Rob Rinder

Fireside chat: A world beyond the binary with Bimini


Tickets are available here.

Friday 28 September 2023

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My Journey to Mindfulness with Ruby Wax OBE is Friday’s fireside chat. / Image: Chapter 81

Panel: What is our obsession with true crime? with Louise Shorter, Richard McCann, Coltan Scrivner, Gemma Whelan and Mark Williams-Thomas

Fireside chat: My Journey to Mindfulness with Ruby Wax OBE

Tickets are available here.

Saturday 29 September 2023

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Dame Prue Leith will be on the panel for ‘how do we talk about grief’. / Image: Chapter 81

Panel: Who does our political system benefit? with Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Tom Brake, Magid Magid, Amber Rudd and Scarlett Westbrook


Panel: How do we talk about grief? with Dame Prue Leith, Jamilla Hussain, Silvan Luley, Lucy Turner and Will Young

Fireside chat: Other Side Of The Coin with Sir Jon Cunliffe and Tom Duff Gordon 

Tickets are available here.

How to get tickets

Tickets for all events have now gone on sale on the Leeds International Festival of Ideas website, and given the huge names announced for this year, make sure you get yours sooner rather than later.

Tickets cost from £10 – £15 each for subsidised tickets, and this year there’s more seats than ever before (moving to the Playhouse has increased seating capacity by 40%).


Tickets can be purchased here.

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Leeds Playhouse, Artistic Director and CEO James Brining said: “It is so exciting to see the range of artists and speakers attending Leeds International Festival 2023.  All are individuals at the top of their game and using their platforms to amplify the voices of others as well as exploring issues of importance and significance for contemporary society.

“At Leeds Playhouse, our aim is to open up our theatre, with its flexible conference spaces and three auditoria, welcoming local, national and international artists to the region, facilitating conversations and sharing stories that reflect the world we live in.  We also aim to celebrate Leeds as a culture rich, vibrant city and hosting LIFI in 2023 certainly helps us achieve that goal.”

Feature Image – Chapter 81