The Power To Change

The NI Science Festival has unveiled its sixth annual programme of 270 events across 90 venues throughout NI, as the festival launch its 2020 programme.

The festival is packed with thought provoking workshops, talks and forums for people of all ages, addressing our planet’s biggest challenges and issues in 2020 from ecology, neuroscience, the concept of time to air pollution and genetics.

This year’s environmental focused programme welcomes naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham to NI Science Festival for his debut at the Whitla Hall, Belfast in his one man show – Pictures from the Edge of the World (23 February). Chris will be sharing his perspectives of life on earth through photography, stories and his ideas about where beauty is found, what good photography is and what it’s for.

22 February marks the NI Science Festival’s first Sustainability Fair held at Ulster University, Belfast. Aimed at demonstrating a variety of practical ways that everyone can make a real difference for the planet through their everyday lives, supplemented with talks from international experts and workshops, the event an open forum on everything and anything from carbon footprints, community lead initiatives, transportation and much more!

Biologist, Anthropologist and Broadcaster Alice Roberts returns to the festival as she presents The Incredible Human Journey (16 February). Alice will be revealing the insights into how humans have colonised in the world’s most inhabitable places over the past 1,000 years and how we have overcome environmental challenges to be where we are today.

More returning favourites include physicist Jim Al-Khalili (16 February) to shine a light on the most profound insights revealed by modern physics; and broadcaster Claudia Hammond will discuss the Art of Rest (23 February) and offer a prescription for exactly what you should do to make sure you’re getting the rest you need.

The festival welcome back Dr Adam Rutherford for How to Argue With a Racist (16 February), an impactful talk about stereotypes and myth about race in society, and Gina Rippon challenges the ideas of a male and female brain in The Gendered Brain (13 February).

This year’s children’s events have expanded for all the family with more shows than ever before to entertain children over half term. The new ‘Create, Make, Play’ section in the festival programme features a range of hands on workshops from a range of partners aimed at those with busy hands and curious minds.

Children’s events include Dr Chris and Xand van Tulleken’s live stage show at The MAC, Brains, Bugs and Body Parts (22 February), Hands on Science with Science Starz in libraries throughout Belfast (17 & 19 February), Cbeebies presenter Maddie Moate (15 and 16 February), and see circus the skills of Strong Women Science at The MAC (18 February).

Strong Women Science impressed guests with their acrobatic skills at the launch of the NI Science Festival as NI Science Festival director Chris McCreery shared the 11-day festival’s purpose to change perspectives and inspire others stating –
“This year, we will be focusing more than ever on the climate crisis through a blend of science, exploration, education and storytelling. We are proud to present a range of events aimed at fostering an appreciation of our natural world. From foraging on beaches to stargazing on mountains, join us for a range of events highlighting our natural open spaces and beautiful places.”

Chris McCreery added - “Five years on we are one of the largest celebrations of science in Europe. As the festival has grown the calibre of speakers’ endorsements keep coming thorough from Professor Brian Cox, Liz Bonin and astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, therefore we believe the NI Science Festival must play a role by championing sustainability and appreciation of the world around us.”

Heather Cousins, Department for the Economy, said: “Speaking at the launch, Heather Cousins, Deputy Secretary and the Department for the Economy, said: “When Chris first shared his vision for a bespoke Science Festival in 2014 with the Department, its potential to help increase young people’s interest in STEM subjects was clear – though we had no idea then just how much interest it would generate and how fast the Festival would grow. The Festival is now seen as leading the way, with a far reaching, excellent reputation, that provides mutual benefits to stakeholders and partners.

“The Northern Ireland Science Festival provides an unparalleled opportunity to engage young people and their families on a huge range of STEM related topics. This is really important as the demand for people with STEM skills continues to grow higher every year. The refresh of the Skills Barometer in 2019 reinforced this – its evidence shows that industries where a scientific or technical background, including ICT, are needed, are amongst those expected to have the most employment growth in Northern Ireland over the next ten years.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Danny Baker said: “The NI Science Festival is now a well-established highlight of our city’s unique and diverse festival calendar and Belfast City Council is delighted to continue to support the exciting programme of events it has to offer.

“Year on year the festival programme continues to grow and is full of fun and exciting family friendly events for everyone to enjoy. I wish to congratulate the team on creating yet another action-packed programme that really captures the imagination and I would encourage everyone to check out what’s on offer and get involved.”

NI Science Festival is supported by the Department for the Economy, Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast, Ulster University, Open University, Innovate UK, British Council Northern Ireland, Matrix, Derry City and Strabane District Council, the Department for Communities and STEM recruitment specialists MCS Group.

NI Science Festival kicks off across NI in various venues from 13 - 23 February 2020. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to and keep up to date @niscifest on Facebook and Twitter.

Recent News