For over a decade, BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival has been the annual highlight for ponderers nationwide: and, this time, the festival is set take to the grand confines of Gateshead’s Sage. 2017 will see a huge range of leading thinkers and world-class musicians brought together to indulge in debate, discuss new ideas and even perform live, with a dizzying variation of speakers – highlights include former Formula One driver Damon Hill OBE, Harriet Harman MP, award-winning poet Simon Armitage, songwriter Richard Hawley and the celebrated American author George Saunders, who will compare notes with Paul McVeigh, Jenn Ashworth and Kirsty Logan on the art of short fiction.
The idiosyncratic theme of this year’s festival is The Speed of Life, with speakers and performers responding to the notion of existence in our fast-paced world: the festival will also see the announcement of the next cohort of New Generation Thinkers, as chosen from hundreds of applicants. Other highlights include a timely discussion about the ways in which depression affects our sense of time with Radio 3’s Anne McElvoy, Professor Louise Robinson and Vincent Deary, and a live performance from Lars Vogt with members of the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Tickets to attend the festival are free – all you need to bring is an open mind.