To challenge preconceptions and stretch imaginations, this biennial event hosted radical speakers, immersive experiences and compelling performances.
Since the very first FutureFest in 2013, we have hosted over 250 hours of content, 350 speakers and performers, and at least 30 experiences. FutureFest has offered audiences a space to push boundaries, connect with other thinkers, and find their own visions for what lies ahead.
More than 11,000 ticket holders have engaged with hundreds of thought-provoking talks and debates – meeting guests including Akala, Annie Mac, Richard Ayoade, Douglas Rushkoff, Elif Shafak, Edward Snowden, Vivienne Westwood, Louis Theroux, Kate Raworth, Nicola Sturgeon, Imogen Heap, Gail Bradbrook, Brain Eno and Ruby Wax. They’ve sampled an array of mind-bending experiences, from the world’s first neurological thrill ride to a ‘fertility shop of the future’. They’ve watched dancing drones and people being implanted with electronic chips, and walked through subterranean urban gardens.
Over the years, the FutureFest Late and FutureFest Forward series ran between festivals and gave the audience the opportunity to take a deeper dive into a particular theme – situated in a range of inspiring venues, from a maze of underground tunnels to an urban rooftop rainforest.
Then, in January 2021, we launched FuturePlayer: an alternative virtual setting for FutureFest. This free content hub offers the chance to explore highlights from no fewer than five past festivals – including content from the last FutureFest (‘the festival that almost was’) in March 2020.
At the heart of FutureFest is our core belief that the future is not something that happens to us, but something we can create.
Whilst each FutureFest was partly engaged in tackling the big questions ‘of the moment’ (from austerity to fake news), most of the debates we began together will have long-lasting relevance well into the future. Our speakers were setting out landmark ideas across all of the issues which shape our era, from sustainability and healthy democracies to digital freedoms and shifting identities. We wanted to create a living library which anyone would be able to revisit as a tonic for uncertain times, to remind us of the difference which alternative stories about the future can make.