York Festival of Ideas: The Best Bits for Kids

York Festival of Ideas is a fortnight of 180 talks, workshops, events and activities that runs with plenty of things for families to get involved in. The Festival runs from June 6th to 18th, and year’s theme is The Story of Things. From Lego to zombies, acting to science, book-making to code-breaking, it’s all going on. Here are some of the highlights for kids, and most of them are free.

Science out of the Lab

Find out about the exciting research being carried out in York as local scientists come out of the lab and onto the city’s streets to demonstrate their work. Take part in edible experiments, see your own brainwaves in real time or find out about nuclear physics using Lego. With lots of hands-on, interactive activities, this fun event is suitable for all the family. Why not come along and talk face to-face with scientists about how their work will improve the world we live in?

Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd June – Parliament Street, York – 11am to 4pm, Free

Creating Stories on Screen: Acting workshops

Ever fancied being a star of the screen? This is your chance to explore fun acting techniques for film and TV and see yourself perform on screen. Join Yorkshire Academy of Film and Television Acting (YAFTA) for free workshops with tailor-made sessions for children, teens and adults, all run by professional actress Amy Reddaway.

Wednesday 7th and Wednesday 14th June – 5pm to 6pm – Ron Cooke Hub, University of York, Free (booking required)

Operation Codebreaker

Calling all would be spies, secret agents and codebreakers. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to join a World War II recruiter to crack codes and unravel secret messages in order to discover the stories behind some of the museum objects at York Army Museum. This event is aimed at children aged six to 11 but all are welcome.

Saturday 10th, Sunday 11th, Saturday 17th and Sunday 18 June – 10am to 12 noon – York Army Museum, Tower Street – Free

Flying High! A birding triple bill

Put on your walking shoes, bring your binoculars and enjoy a birding triple bill. Join poet and performer Anneliese Emmans Dean for a journey through the bird year in laughter, rhythm and rhyme, followed by a chance to take a look at her new book Flying High! Head outside for a guided bird walk with Sir John Lawton, Vice-President of the RSPB, on the University of York’s wildlife-friendly Campus East. Suitable for families with children aged six to 12.

Saturday 10th June – 10am to 12.15pm – The Lakehouse, Ron Cooke Hub, University of York – Free (booking required)

Fish ‘n’ Ships: Fishing through time

Did you know you are walking on fishbones? Join University of York archaeologists, historians and ecologists to discuss how people caught, farmed, and used fish in the past and today. Taste some of chef Phil Leverington’s Medieval fish dishes or get your hands dirty digging for the remains of a meal. Touch fish skeletons and make your own colourful fish.

Saturday 10th June – Explore York Library Learning Centre, Museum Street – Free

Festival Fringe Family Fun Afternoon

Join University of York postgraduate students for an afternoon of energetic, crafty, puzzling, scientific and historical fun at this year’s Festival Fringe Family Fun Afternoon. Activities are particularly suitable for five to 11-year-olds but other family members are welcome to join in too.

Saturday 10th June – 1.30pm to 4.30pm – Ron Cooke Hub, University of York – Free

The Poetry of Plants

Explore the poetry of plants on a guided tour of the University of York’s Campus West. Find out about the uses and symbolism of plants and trees on campus, and take a look at poems inspired by the botanical world, including Seamus Heaney’s Blackberry Picking and Alice Oswald’s Daisy. Finally, write a poem about a plant of your choice with help from your guides. This event is designed for children aged nine to 11 years old.

Sunday 11th June – 2pm to 4.30pm – Heslington Hall, University of York – Free (booking required)

Zombies in York

Zombies have taken over York and brought the city to a standstill! But we were quick enough to catch one. Come along and get involved as University of York scientists dissect the captured zombie in front of a live audience. Will you be able to save York by working out how the disease started? An interactive hands-on workshop aimed at children aged eight to 12.

Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th June – Explore York Library Learning Centre, Museum Street – Free (booking required)

Viking Saga Saturday

Head to the new Viking: Rediscover the Legend exhibition for a day of Viking sagas, written and delivered by University of York students. Drop in and listen to imaginative and inspiring stories about Jorvik – Viking York – and allow yourself to become immersed in the dedicated, atmospheric space. Especially suitable for children aged six to 11, but all are welcome.

Saturday 17th June – Yorkshire Museum, York Museum Gardens, York – Free but museum admission applies

Wastebusters’ Fest

Ever wondered what happens to rubbish? Is it worth your effort to recycle? Find out at a day of activities for all ages redefining what waste is and what to do with it. Explore an interactive display The Story of ‘Waste’, enjoy a tasty meal made from would-be-waste food, learn how to compost or bring up to five items to swap and show your bike to Dr Bike. This event is part of One Planet York, showcasing the Zero Waste principle.

St Nicks Environment Centre, York – Saturday 17th June – 12 noon to 4pm – Free

The Story of Things: Lego building

Calling all budding builders! Drop in and use the Lego to make your own ‘thing’. Take inspiration from historic treasures from the archives, including maps and images of York. What will you create? Suitable for children aged 2+.

Explore York Library Learning Centre, Museum Street, York – Saturday 17th June – Free

Make Your Own Book Workshop

It’s time to get creative! Find out about early printing and handwritten books, play games, then have a go at making a book of your own. Suitable for children aged 7+ accompanied by an adult.

Explore York Library Learning Centre, Museum Street, York – Saturday 17th June – Free

View the full York Festival of Ideas programme at yorkfestivalofideas.com


Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter


The best of York and beyond for families, Straight to your inbox every week.

Subscribe now