A unique collaboration

Festival of the Mind is a unique collaboration between our academic colleagues and experts from Sheffield’s cultural and creative industries.

It is about welcoming the public and our students from all over the world – as we celebrate our University and our city, with themes that are both local and global.

The third Festival of the Mind, held in 2016, attracted 50,000 visitors to its performances, talks, exhibitions, virtual reality experiences and interactive events.

As with all our festivals, none of this would be possible without the commitment of the festival team and a host of volunteers – University staff, students and the public.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Festival Director:

Professor Vanessa Toulmin

Professor Vanessa Toulmin

As Director of City and Culture at the University of Sheffield and Chair of Sheffield’s Cultural Consortium, I am delighted to be festival director for the third year of Festival of the Mind.

It is a great pleasure to see collaborative work. This year’s festival will be bigger than ever. There will be something for everyone from family events to entertainment after dark in the Student’s Union run Spiegeltent in Barker’s Pool. There will be music, performance and installations throughout the city. The University’s most exciting research will be shared in unexpected and inspiring ways themed around making, journeys, virtual, local & global, activism and utopia/placemaking.

So come along and enjoy the spectacular, the intriguing and the beautiful during the Year of Making. Festival of the Mind promises to capture the spirit of invention and collaboration, the love of ideas and makes Sheffield such a wonderful place.


Festival of the Mind’s global themes reflect the values of the University’s #WeAreInternational campaign. We launched this to show our support for international students and to ensure that their contribution to our economy and culture is recognised.

The Spiegeltent

A timelapse showing the magnificent Spiegeltent being built:

The Spiegeltent will return to Barker's Pool

The Spiegeltent in Barker’s Pool

Thank yous

Festival of the Mind team

  • Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Festival Director
  • Greg Oldfield, Marketing & Communications
  • Lesley Allen, Finance
  • Polly Wilson, Programming
  • Wendy Hobson, Events
  • Ian Knowles, Technical Manager
  • Mark Atkin, FutureCade
  • Tom Millen, FutureCade
  • Sara Unwin, FutureCade
  • Nick Bax, Visual Design, Human Studios
  • Graham McElearney, iTunes U and film
  • Scott Barton, Production from Yellow Bus Events

All the academic staff, professional services staff and members of the creative community who are involved in Festival of the Mind projects.

Over 140 members of staff and students from the University of Sheffield who have volunteered their time to help run the festival.


  • Arts Council England
  • Wellcome Trust
  • Sheffield City Council
  • Sheffield’s Cultural Consortium
  • Sheffield Moor Markets
  • Royal Society

The University of Sheffield

  • Professor Keith Burnett, Vice Chancellor
  • Professor Shearer West, Deputy Vice Chancellor
  • Professor Richard Jones
  • Professor Tony Ryan
  • Dr Sarah Want
  • Fran Marshall, Amy Carter, Nicola Strafford and Lynette Hodges in the Public Engagement & Impact team
  • Carrie Vernon, Annie Goss, Robin Byles, Amy Pullan, Hannah Postles, Clare Parkin, Kirsty Bowen and Heidi Gilchrist in the Corporate Communications team
  • Ian Bennet, Festival of the Mind student intern
  • Emily Hopkinson in the HR team
  • Chris Garlic and all the Estates team
  • Bob Rabone, Chris Hill & the Finance team
  • Chris Sexton and Jenny Clegg the CiCS team
  • Paul Tetley and all the team in Design & Print Solutions

Sheffield City Council

  • John Mothersole, Sheffield City Council
  • Richard Eyre, Angela Gower, Nicola Allen & the City Centre Management Team at Sheffield City Council
  • Tamar Millen
  • Kim Streets, Sheffield Museums
  • Howard Simpson, Special Events Team at Sheffield City Council


  • Now Then Magazine
  • Our Favourite Places
  • Human
  • Off the Shelf
  • City centre posters