Festival of ideas HowTheLightGetsIn returns to London this month

Written by
Charlie Allenby

Got a taste for Ted Talks? HowTheLightGetsIn might just be the thing for you. The Kenwood House festival comes to north London on September 21-22 and visitors can expect to see heated debates with thinkers, philosophers and activists across a spectrum of subjects. But away from the headline acts (the motorcycle-riding bad boy of economics, Yanis Varoufakis, and legendary musical mind Brian Eno), there are a whole host of debates, talks and food to sink your teeth into. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s events…

1 Debate the role of nature in our lives

Climate change is very real. It’s impossible to turn on the news and not see a story about the latest catastrophe that the human race has contributed to. But were our ancestors right in putting nature at the centre of everything they did – from worshipping the sun to believing in tree gods? And should we look to build a whole new way of life that does the same (minus the tree gods maybe)? Join a panel including ex-Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam and discuss our place on the planet.

2 Learn how we can stop the rise of big tech

We’re glued to our smartphones and are suckers for the latest social media innovation. (Don’t shake your head – we’ve seen you messing around with Snapchat filters). But as big tech gets bigger, its ability to shape our lives (from individual emotions to national governments) is often seen as alarming. Listen in as authors Shoshana Zuboff and Joanna Kavenna are joined by politicians Bim Afolami and Angela Eagle to debate how government can tackle the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook and halt the shift to a world dictated by global corporations.

3 Discover how to touch a taste

Join The Centre for the Study of the Sense for a workshop that will send you into a sensory overload. Learn how you can hear a smell (and no, it doesn’t involve sticking your ear into a tin of tuna) and be ready to be put in deeper touch with yourself and your surroundings.

4 Find out why robot doctors might be the future  

If you’ve ever tried to get a same-day doctor’s appointment, you can expect a frustrating morning spent jamming the GP surgery’s phone before being told the only available slot left is in three weeks time. But could the rise of AI spell the end of the GP’s waiting room? Hear who (or what) will be doing the diagnosing in the future in a discussion between palliative care doctor and author Rachel Clark, psychiatrist David Healy and futurist Anders Sandberg.  

5 Top it all off with some surreal comedy

After all that ‘big talk’, you might want to head in the direction of some light relief. Fortunately, HowTheLightGetsIn also has a host of stand-up comedians on the bill that should keep you laughing long into the night. Tony Law will be bringing his blend of out-there laughs to the Kenwood House stage, while rising star Sophie Duker is definitely one not to miss.

HowTheLightGetsIn takes place at Kenwood House, Sep 21-22. Tube: Golders Green then 210 bus. From £52. Find out more here

Want less talking, more music? Try Colourscape Music Festival  

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