Babraham Research Campus, Cambridge
Sat 8th September 2018


Renewing the grassroots of mainstream politics


What To Expect

At this year's Big Tent Ideas Festival

The Big Tent Ideas Festival brings together the popular literary festival format with the big challenges of contemporary politics. Following the success of our launch event last year, Big Tent Ideas Fest 18 will be ten times bigger and include:

  • Inspiring and provocative conversations in our Economy, Society and Politics Tents

  • Technology tents showcasing the innovations that are transforming the worlds of health, housing and transport

  • Our new Global Britain Tent exploring Britain’s place in the world beyond Brexit

We hope the Big Tent will launch a movement of change, reform, opportunity, empowerment, responsibility and a renewed sense of active citizenship. We do not claim to have all the answers, but we hope to at least ask the right questions. Of the right people. In the right forum. In the right spirit.

This Ideas Fest is part of the Capital Ideas Foundation - a non-party political body to promote the benefits of free enterprise and entrepreneurialism, and the values and virtues of the entrepreneurial spirit in our society, economy and our politics.




Sat 8th September 2018

Babraham Research Campus, Cambridge

We are delighted to announce that with a focus on “Innovative solutions to the big challenges facing a new generation” - this year’s Festival will be in Cambridge, at the world renowned Babraham Research and Innovation Campus.  

Set in the beautiful grounds of historic Babraham Hall, the campus is home to some of the most exciting and innovative research and companies in the UK. 

A short distance from both Cambridge and Whittlesford railway stations, easily accessible from London, the North and Midlands, the Babraham Campus is an international centre of the innovative thinking and delivery the BigTent is all about.

At a time when so many of us are in despair, frankly, at the state of our politics... it’s a joy to see some serious political thinkers and reformers from all parties and from none coming together to explore the real causes of the disillusionment that is sweeping our society
— Stephen Fry


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We care about digital democracy.

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Get in touch and share your big ideas.


Congratulations to all taking part in this Big Tent Ideas Festival and specific congratulations to George Freeman for conceiving it
— Rabbi Sacks
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Last Year’s Festival

The inaugural Ideas Festival (launched 21-22 Sept 2017) was put together by a team who share a deep belief that our politics needs a more open, grassroots, participative, bottom-up conversation with the people on the frontline of social and economic renewal.

2017's highly successful two-day event – broadcast live on Sky News, trending nationwide on Twitter, and reported in The Times, FT, and the BBC  – saw a diverse range of speakers descend on rural Berkshire, including: Liam Halligan on the real legacy of the Great Crash, Roger Scruton on the true nature of Citizenship, Macron's En Marche Campaign Manager in the UK on 'Insurgent Politics', Lord Bird on the potential of Social Enterprise, leading entrepreneurs on the 21st Century Economy, and the chair of the Prime Minister's Policy Board on the need for a new kind of politics.

Big Tent 2017 was partnered with Reaction, inviting contributors to write-up their ‘Big Ideas’ for the UK after Brexit.


Last Year's Speakers

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Soap Boxes & Speakers’ Corner

The Big Tent Ideas Festival is about creating a platform for people who are passionate about making a difference and solving problems in our society but don’t necessarily want to join a political party. The format of the Big Tent Festival is carefully designed to encourage and promote free speech, open debate and fresh thinking in a friendly, informal and fun festival format in which people from differing traditions share platforms and debate with our Big Tent attendees.

Through the 50 minute sessions in each of our 8 Tents, chaired by independent chairs whose job is to run the session for maximum audience participation, the festival is run for the festival goers.

No long lectures. No lecterns. No long speeches. No boring corporate PowerPoint presentations.

Just fast moving, punchy, provocative debates on a wide range of subjects that don’t get asked by political parties.

As well as through audience participation in our Tent Talks, you can have your say by:

  • Taking to a Soap Box. In each tent we have one, exactly like the one John Major won the 1992 election using. Speakers can pitch an idea for 3 minutes.

  • Taking to the Speakers’ Corner. This is a place for 15 minute presentations on a topic of your choosing.