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UK's biggest politics festival returns to Sheffield this spring

Headliners at 2022 Festival of Debate include Jeremy Corbyn, Gloria Steinem, Armando Iannucci and Shon Faye.

The UK's biggest non-partisan politics festival returns to Sheffield this April and May, with a programme of 60 events hosted at venues across the city.

Highlights include former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, writer and trans rights campaigner Shon Faye, and The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci reading from a new book of pandemic poetry.

This year's festival also features pioneering feminist Gloria Steinem, civil liberties campaigner Baroness Shami Chakrabarti and viral superstar Jackie Weaver hosting a Question Time-style debate.

“We’re so proud of the programme we've brought together for this year’s festival, from the well-known keynote speakers we’ve booked to the grassroots events led by people and groups in communities," said programmer Joe Kriss.

“At a time when things look so polarised and trust in institutions of all kinds has reached rock bottom, it’s important that we make space for improving our collective understanding of the problems we face as a society – and what solutions could look like.”

As well as headline events, the full programme includes a range of community events led by grassroots groups and individual citizens exploring the most important issues of our time.

These include Sheffield’s biggest ever one-day conference on the future of our planet, and talks highlighting Covid misinformation and the criminalisation of the UK’s Gypsy and Traveller communities.

Other events will explore how to create a more neuro-divergent city, a look at the future of local media, and talks on air pollution and rewilding in Sheffield.

Hosted by social enterprise Opus Independents, who also publish Now Then, the Festival of Debate returns at a time when trust in government, business and the media is at an all-time low.

Shon Faye author photo c Paul Samuel White

Writer and trans rights activist Shon Faye will speak at the Festival of Debate on 24 May.

Shon Faye.

Now in its eighth year, the 2022 festival runs from 19 April to 31 May, with an additional keynote talk from environmental activist and writer George Monbiot at the Octagon on 23 June.

Other headline events include creative campaign group Led By Donkeys, Turkish journalist Ece Temelkuran and David Wengrow, co-author of The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity with the late David Graeber.

The festival is supported by the University of Sheffield and the Independent Media Association, and works with dozens of partner organisations across South Yorkshire on individual events.

All events are either free to attend or as low-cost as possible, with some taking place in-person and others online. The full programme is out now.

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