Leeds International Festival of Ideas

From 27th to 30th September 2023, Leeds International Festival of Ideas will welcome some of the world’s greatest thinkers and most interesting voices to debate, connect and explore new ideas. Find out more...

One of the highlights of the Leeds cultural scene, LIFI is back with a trio of absolutely unmissable headliners and in a brand new venue.

Leeds International Festival of Ideas has fast-become one of the most anticipated events in the city’s calendar, and this year’s set to be no different. With three fantastic headliners just revealed within the first wave of plans, get ready for big announcements, a brand new home and a whole host of inspirational goings-on. Let’s find out what’s in store…

Leeds International Festival of Ideas

Credit: Tom Martin

The four-day festival brings together a carefully-curated line-up of thought-leaders, delivering an impeccable programme of interactive discussions, inspirational keynotes and thought-provoking seminars. This year, LIFI23 will be setting up shop at a brand new home – the stunning Leeds Playhouse, a thriving cultural hub dedicated to storytelling and imagination.

“We are thrilled with the programme we are bringing to the city for LIFI23, built on the outstanding success of last year, we think it is our strongest speaker line-up yet,” Head of Festival and Co-Director of LeedsBID, Martin Dickson, told us. “We’re also hugely excited to be presenting the festival at the incredible Leeds Playhouse, one of the most famous theatre venues in the city.”

So, who’s on that oh-so-special line-up? Opening up the festival is renowned entrepreneur, TV personality and social media mogul, Steven Bartlett. Famous for his popular Diary of a CEO podcast and his appearances on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, he’s quickly become one of the most celebrated faces in UK business. He’ll be letting the audience in on how he spots the next big thing.

He’s joined by trailblazing reality star, author and LGBTQ+ activist Bimini. Since placing as a runner-up in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, they’ve become a national treasure, adored for their razor-sharp wit, endless charisma and unspoken views on gender, pride and politics. They’ll be sharing their thoughts and first-hand experience on the importance of representation and inclusivity in the media.


Credit: Tom Martin

Rounding off the headliners is the much-loved Ruby Wax OBE. Expect to be taken on an emotional journey as she digs into the importance of looking after your mental wellness. The comedian’s always been up front about her own struggles, so you can expect an honest and open exploration of mental health, delivered via the comedian’s inimitable brand of humour.

The full line-up is set to be revealed along with the tickets going on sale on Tuesday 4th April 2023. Expect a packed roster of inspirational talks, panels and discussions around the social issues facing the world right now, including political systems, women’s health inequalities and self-sufficiency. If you’re looking to expand your thinking and take part in healthy debate, get that date in your diary.

Leeds International Festival of Ideas will take over Leeds Playhouse from Wednesday 27th to Saturday 30th September 2023.

Cover image credit: Tom Martin