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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Festival of Debate picks

Under the tagline We Need to Talk, Festival of Debate returns for spring 2019 – aiming to kindle conversations that might help to shift some clouds from around big issues, and clear paths towards answers to questions that can sometimes seem too big to ask.

Taking place in cultural venues, community centres and places of worship across the whole of Sheffield, the Festival of Debate 2019 programme aims to get people thinking about democracy, our planet, ideas for how we can all live together better and look to the future. There'll be open mic poetry nights, theatre that's both personal and political, radical standup comedy, documentary film screenings, and, of course, lots of conversation – on everything from climate justice and public ownership of public services to the gig economy and the "magic money tree".

Read on for what's still to come in our top picks from the programme, and be sure to look at the full listings on the Festival of Debate site – there's tons to get involved in, and much of it's free.

The Life, Work & Legacy of Harry Leslie Smith

Thu. 25 April 2019

Barnsley Digital Media Centre, County Way, Barnsley S70 2JW

Harry Leslie Smith (1923-2018) was an inspiration to the very end, a second world war veteran turned ardent anti-austerity campaigner. Join his son John in Harry's birthplace of Barnsley for a conversation on his father's life, works and legacy.


Sat. 27 April 2019

The Circle, 33 Rockingham Lane, S1 4FW

Nearly three years on from the EU referendum the UK faces an uncertain future, where we still barely know much more than “Brexit means Brexit”. Here, voters on both sides of the leave/remain divide share their views.

Same Same Different

Thu. 9 May 2019

Theatre Deli

A play about the influences of both nature and nurture, sharing stories from adoptees living all over the world.

Our Planet Hub Day

Sat. 11 May 2019

Theatre Deli

Man-made climate change is one of the most pressing issues we face today. This day of action goes deep into the daunting challenge, with a vegan breakfast club, and workshops and talks covering zero waste, Attenborough-style TV, and more.

Afua Hirsch: Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

Mon. 13 May 2019

Auditorium, Sheffield Students' Union, Western Bank, S10 2TG

The journalist and Sky News presenter discusses her book, Brit(ish) – on everyday racism and our awkward, troubled relationship with our history.

How to Break the Silence on Environmental Collapse

Thu. 16 May 2019

Auditorium, Sheffield Students' Union, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TG

It's one of the most urgent issues we face today, but for some reason the environmental crisis isn't always reported with the urgency it requires. Join passionate and knowledgeable climate communicators George Monbiot & George Marshall in discussion.

Sheffield Zine Fest

Sat. 18 May 2019

The Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, S1 2BX

After a year off, Sheffield Zine Fest returns for 2019, filling the Workstation with DIY stapled paper treats. All hail the photocopier.

Roger McGough & Stan Skinny

Tue. 21 May 2019

Abbeydale Picture House

Carol Ann Duffy calls him "the patron saint of poetry" and Liverpool has long claimed him as their own poet laureate. He even has a poem on the wall in our very own Winter Garden. Don't miss Roger McGough reading his irreverent and spirited poetry.

How Can Women's & LGBT+ Communities Build Inclusive Spaces?

Tue. 21 May 2019

Firth Court, Western Bank, S10 2TN

Join SheFest, the LGBT+ Hub and a panel of speakers for a discussion on creating inclusive spaces in women's and LGBT+ communities.

The Guilty Feminist: Live

Thu. 23 May 2019

Sheffield City Hall

The Guilty feminist podcast is an online comedy phenomenon. Deborah Frances-White and her guests explore the noble goals of modern day feminists while confessing all manner of insecurity, hypocrisies and paradoxes that undermine them in this pursuit.

Live Late: The People's Palace of Possibility

Fri. 31 May 2019

Millennium Gallery

Museums Sheffield's Friday night social returns, this time with a utopian inclination. Get your imagination going with John Ruskin-inspired performance, music, film and general dream-weaving creativity.

Festival of Debate does Question Time

Sat. 1 June 2019

Millennium Gallery

See out this year's festival with a Question Time-style event. You'll have chance to put your questions to political figures and commentators including outgoing Lord Mayor Magid Magid, Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar and openDemocracy editor Adam Ramsay.