New creative festival brings top speakers and performers to Scarborough

Big Ideas by the Sea is a new environmental and creative festival for Scarborough that will bring together speakers and performers from across the UK.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 6:12 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 6:14 pm
Kane Cunningham, John Oxley and Nick Taylor enjoying some mussels to mark the launch of Big Ideas by the Sea.

The festival is being held on July 16-24 this year, and the intention is for it to be held annually. The aim is to become the leading environmental and creative festival in the North of England, highlighting the big issues related to the environment, climate change, music, art and history.

The festival is the brainchild of artist Kane Cunningham and former City of York archaeologist John Oxley.

Kane said: “We want to connect to people, to explore the idea of the sea as being a passage of ideas globally, a conduit for the exchange of culture, ideas, food, books, language, politics, beliefs and trade. An entry point and an exit point for people leaving and arriving from all over the world.”

The festival has already attracted some top speakers, including mountaineer Alan Hinkes OBE, Professor Joann Fletcher, photographer Joe Cornish and adventurer and TV presenter Paul Rose, who will offer a virtual contribution from his home in Switzerland.

John said: “We are also planning a community archaeological dig in the Old Town of Scarborough Our intention is to open up to 20 small trenches and to look for artefacts and objects which tell us more about the history of Scarborough. This ‘Time-Team’ style dig over the weekend will take the festival to communities that would not normally take part in such an event. And, of course, we have Professor Carenza Lewis of Time Team taking part in the festival.”

To mark the launch of the festival and as part of the cooking series that they have planned in the lead-up to July, Kane and John were joined by business ambassador, and director of Tanick Consultancy, Nick Taylor for some cooking on the pier last Friday.

Nick cooked up mussels in cider, with produce bought from local businesses in Scarborough Market Hall.

Kane said: “We plan to invite chefs to come along and do more cooking sessions in the lead-up to the festival, and we will be posting lots about the events that we have planned on social media.

“We are keen to get local hotels and restaurants involved in the festival and work with them to host events.”

There is a full schedule of events and speakers who will be at the festival listed on the website, and tickets are on sale now. Kane said: “We have two world premieres of an interview with Sir Alan Ayckbourn [pictured], and to end the festival we have a perfomance by Martin and Eliza Carthy.”

To find out more and book tickets go to You can also keep updated by following their Facebook page.