Ignite Cardiff

The tickets sell out in under a minute, it attracts audiences of around 400 people, and every two months Cardiff’s twitter-verse becomes just a little bit obsessed with it. And yes, this is all for a free event based on quasi-educational talks, sharing bright ideas in 5-minute slots.

Ignite Cardiff is part of a new breed of free talks. Those familiar with TED talks will recognise the style- to an extent. Ignite gets ordinary folk and puts them on a stage to entertain and inspire the audience. But unlike Ted, Ignite like to keep things short and snappy: talks last 5 minutes, and speakers get 20 slides that transfer automatically every 15 seconds. A world away from note taking and lecture theatres, Ignite Cardiff starts later in the evening, and, with regular breaks for trips to the bar, it makes for a very sociable night out.

Though it stems from a free talks franchise that sprang up in Seattle in 2006- Ignite Cardiff is a distinctly home grown event, started up in 2008 by Neil Cocker and Claire Scantlebury (the team behind Tedx Cardiff) who later handed it over to a team of Cardiff’s business talent: Steve Dimmick, Ed Barnett, Mark Stevenson, Miranda Bishop, James Harding, and James Davies.

An Ignite Cardiff night is likely to be unlike anything you’ve attended before. Intermixing comedy, challenging ideas, calls for activism, and touching personal stories, you will probably leave feeling all warm and fuzzy and emphatically optimistic about life. There’s a palpably friendly, buzzing atmosphere. Not taking things too seriously, there was even opportunity for the audience to get up on stage, with two members going head to head in a heated- if slightly squiffy- debate on the nation splitting subject of Football versus Rugby.

Totally open to the public, who can volunteer themselves to speak on any subject they feel deserves attention, speakers have come from fall walks of life- from chemistry professors to political activists. Past talks have been on all sorts of subjects you’d never have expected, be that the wrongs of Gingerism or sourcing clean energy from crystals.

Ignite Cardiff was the first Ignite event to make it across the Atlantic, and its infectious good vibes have been spreading to Bristol and beyond, with new events staring up across the UK. If you’re in the habit of making new years resolutions, alongside those vows to avoid chocolate or actually make it to the gym, going to an Ignite Cardiff is definitely something to add to your list.


Got 5 minutes to spare? Have a look at some of Ignite Cardiff 20’s speakers:

Kev O’Connor on Dick Kerr’s Ladies.

Christina Thatcher on Writing Grief.

Ben Smith on “Gingerism”-The Last Acceptable Prejudice.



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