HowTheLightGetsIn: Your guide to one of London's most distinctive festivals

Jochan Embley

Brian Eno, Rory Stewart, Peter Tatchell and Slavoj Žižek, all on the same festival line-up? No, it’s not some wild fever dream — it’s the latest edition of HowTheLightGetsIn.

The two-day event, which returns to London this weekend, describes itself as “a fleeting oasis of ideas and imagination”. In other words, it’s a festival designed to broaden horizons and challenge preconceptions, with a diverse line-up of speakers set to impart their wisdom.

With a range of debates, lectures and talks lined-up across the festival, as well as live music, stand-up comedy, food and drink, HowTheLightGetsIn looks set to reaffirm its status as one of London’s most distinctive festivals.

This is what you need to know.

What makes it so different?

The fact that the speakers — who range from philosophers to political activists to journalists — are placed as the main attraction, rather than the musicians, marks it out as something quite apart from the rest of London’s festival scene. And there are certainly some people worth listening to. Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek economist and politician, will join a discussion on the fragmented future of politics in the UK and abroad. Brian Eno, one of the most influential musicians of the 21st century, will discuss the value of new music in an age of limitless technological possibility. Emma Barnett, the uncompromising BBC journalist, will interview Tory rebel Rory Stewart about his political and personal life.

Most of the speakers will appear in front of a crowd, although there are also a number of so-called Inner Circle events. These involve sharing a meal with fellow festival-goers as well as a prominent public figure — former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, literary theorist Stanley Fish and Bim Afolami MP are among the guests.

What’s more, this all goes down within the grounds of Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath, making for a rather civilised affair — far from the beer-sodden fields of many other festivals.

What else is there to do?

If all that knowledge boggles the brain slightly, have a dance to one of the live music acts. Ivor Novello-nominated artist Nerina Pallot, veteran DJ and filmmaker Don Letts and six-piece outfit CC Smugglers are the headliners, with Sam and the Womp, Tugboat Captain and Freya Ward among the other performers.

There is a nine-strong comedy line-up, too, with the likes of Tony Law, Sophie Duker and Olga Koch providing the laughs. Elsewhere, there are cinema screenings, long-table banquets and even a showcase of a prototype Mars Rover, accompanied by a team of engineers ready to answer questions on the space explorer’s next mission.

How much are tickets?

Weekend tickets have sold out, but you can still buy individual passes for both days. Saturday is currently priced at £79, while Sunday is £52.

Buy tickets here.