From biochemistry to physics, ecology to geology, discover how you, the universe and everything in between behaves as the 2022 NI Science Festival announces its return with an interstellar programme of over 120 public events.
The STEM celebration, which has grown to become the largest of its kind on the island of Ireland, will return for a packed 10 days of discovery from Thursday 17 – Sunday 27 February.
Covering everything from the natural world, our planet, and the vast expanse of space to engineering, the mind and body, food and much more, the festival presents some of the most prominent scientific minds, thought-leading academics, and captivating authors.
Commenting on the launch of the 2022 festival, its director, Chris McCreery, says: “We’re privileged to play host to some of the most recognisable names in science communication, whose expertise in the physical, life and social sciences satisfy our thirst for knowledge and understanding year after year.”
He adds: “Our festival exists to engage audiences, stimulate discussion, and ignite interest in the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and we’re confident this year’s diverse programming will expand the horizons of festival goers of all ages and abilities across Northern Ireland.”
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “Investing in skills and talent is absolutely vital for economic success and to this end my Department’s Skills Strategy, ‘Skills for a 10X Economy’ sets out a plan to deliver significant growth in qualifications in technical and professional skills.
“STEM subjects and careers are crucial if we are to create a more flourishing economy, both now and in the future. Events like the science festival can help us bring this vision to life by encouraging young people and their parents to think more about the benefits of studying STEM subjects with a view to their future career. The festival can also provide examples to those already in the labour market that there are opportunities within STEM related sectors that can be grasped by upskilling or reskilling.
“Each year the science festival plays an invaluable role in helping to promote and build the STEM skills that Northern Ireland needs for its economic future by helping us explore what science means to us.”
Councillor Kate Nicholl, Lord Mayor of Belfast, says: “The NI Science Festival is incredibly innovative, engaging, and educational – and we’re very proud to support it. Each year, the NISF programming team raises the bar – bringing us new, creative events that captivate, entertain and get us thinking about the world around us – and our role in it.
“We’re particularly excited about hosting BODY at our beautiful Botanic Gardens – and I can’t wait to see people of all ages journey through this playful, immersive night-time installation which is bound to stimulate curiosity and conversation!”
Leading this year’s festival is BODY, an immersive night-time installation dominating the grounds of the Belfast’s Botanic Gardens (17-20 Feb). Inspired by anatomical science and using cutting-edge technology to create a deeper understanding of the science of the human form, journey through six different zones blending human biology with light, special effects, sound, and fire.
For the better part of two years, hard-hitting statistics – seven-day rolling averages, rate of infection, excess deaths, and more – have been an integral part of the national conversation, and never before has it been more important that we understand and think about them clearly. In Covid by Numbers (27 Feb), Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter and Dr Anthony Masters crunch the data in a timely, concise and accessible discussion.
Among the other highlights is the welcomed return of many festival favourites, including notable names such as Professor Alice Roberts, who will guide us through a prehistory of Britain, told through seven fascinating burial sites that teach us about ourselves and our interconnected global ancestry (20 Feb).
Challenge your understanding of perception and reality, and turn what you thought you knew about yourself on its head with world-renowned neuroscientist Anil Seth, who, in his show Being You (20 Feb), discusses a radical new theory of consciousness and self as he puts forwards his unique theory of what it means to ‘be you’.
In How to Solve a Crime (27 Feb), Professor Angela Gallop draws on her 45-year career at the front of forensics to take us behind the police tape and into the heart of a crime scene to explain what forensic scientists look for and how crimes are solved.
Nurture and find yourself absorbed by your little ones infectious curiosity in Stuff with Maddie Moate (19 Feb), learning together how to make paper from elephant poo and plastic packaging from seaweed in a show bursting with extraordinary facts about where your worldly possessions come from – and what happens when you’re finished with them.
Also for younger audiences, the festival will host the most outrageous science show in the world, Fartology with Gastronaut (26 Feb). Hosted by Gastronaut Stefan Gates, embark on an unforgettable, explosive edible adventure exploring the bizarre science behind our food.
On the theme of food, acclaimed chef Paul Cunningham joins writer Dan Saladino for the Zero Waste Banquet (19 Feb), a five-course tasting menu demonstrating how we can better utilise the some 4.5m tonnes of food waste that reach UK household bins every year.
Then, accompanied by the expertise of Dr Sarah Baccianti, join chef Cunningham once more for a culinary experience like no other in The Medieval Menu Experience (26 Feb). This extraordinary and unusual dinner experience will transport diners back to the Middle Ages through 14th and 15th century recipes – surprisingly rich in spices, herbs and flavour – from Scandinavia, England and France.
Closing the festival is renowned wildlife and documentary cameraman Doug Allan. Having worked on documentaries including Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, Human Planet, Frozen Planet, and much more, join Doug as he looks back on an illustrious 35 years of natural history film making during which time he has witnessed first-hand the impact of climate change.
NI Science Festival is supported by the Department for the Economy, Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, British Council Northern Ireland, MCS Group, The Open University NI, Innovate UK, Matrix NI, Film Hub NI and Arts & Business NI.
The 2022 NI Science Festival runs 17–27 February 2022. For more information about NI Science Festival events and bookings, visit nisciencefestival.com. Keep up to date with the festival on social media via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.