Philosophy Festival

Philosophy Festival

It was a hot, sunny afternoon in late May, and following a week and a half of painful end-of-year exams, the eight of us that had taken it upon ourselves to study philosophy embarked on a trip to the annual HowTheLightGetsIn festival.

Following a four-hour coach ride to Wales, we arrived at Baskerville Hall (which was, in fact, the very place that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write his famous Sherlock Homes story) and the festivities began first thing next morning. After a very scenic hike along the river Wye, we were treated to a variety of talks on everything from string theory to psychology, and a very fun hands-on workshop about the philosophy of the senses involving an experiment with Skittles and nose plugs.

Over the course of the two days, we were given essentially free reign to explore the festival and experience talks by some of the biggest names in philosophy, including Slavoj Zizek, Neil Turok and Roger Penrose. Then, in the evenings, stand-up shows and music (most notably a very memorable set by Gruff Rhys) helped unwind our brains after all the intense philosophising.

Finally, on the last day, we were given time to explore Hay-on-Wye, famous for the highest number of bookshops per capita and therefore a very dangerously tempting place (my logic was that I wouldn’t find anywhere that sold DVDs for £1 each any time soon in London…). Overall, it’s definite that the festival wasn’t quite like anything we had ever experienced before – philosophy and music was an unexpected combination that resulted in a very enjoyable event that felt like an amalgamation of TED-Ed and a 1970s hippie festival. It was a wonderfully unique weekend to spend with my friends and to take my love of learning and thinking beyond the curriculum. 

Sasha (VII)