About Us

Celebrating the people, stories and ideas at the heart of science.

The British Science Festival is Europe’s longest standing science Festival, travelling to a different place in the United Kingdom each year. Our Festival aims to connect people with scientists, engineers, technologists and social scientists.

Each year, we bring an inspiring programme of free events to the public over four or five days, bursting with exciting opportunities to get involved in. Our talks, workshops and drop-in events span a diverse range of subjects that encompass science in the broadest sense, promising something for everyone.

To get a flavour of the Festival we have produced a promotional video which can be viewed below:

The British Science Association and De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are pleased to announce that the British Science Festival in 2022 will take place in the city of Leicester across five days next September. The Festival will be held between Tuesday 13 and Saturday 17 September 2022, with events being held on the University’s campus, as well as at venues across the city, offering over 100 free activities for nearby residents.

Professor David Mba, DMU’s Pro Vice Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, said: “DMU has a long track record of conducting research that makes a real difference to people. Only last year several of our academics were ranked amongst the most influential scientists in the world, further reinforcing the impact our researchers are having on a global scale.

“It is therefore an honour to be hosting next year’s British Science Festival, giving people across the East Midlands the opportunity to visit the DMU campus and engage with our academics and nationally renowned scientists across a broad range of disciplines”

Fi Donovan, Head of Public Engagement at DMU, added: “We are honoured to be hosting the British Science Festival 2022 and welcoming the event back to the East Midlands after 20 years away. We are excited to be working closely with British Science Association colleagues, city partners and our own expert academic staff and students to create an engaging programme for the city of Leicester.

“Continuing to build a thought-provoking, fun and engaging programme over the coming months will be hard work but well worth the effort – next September seems a long way off but we have a lot to achieve in that time, working across the university and with the diverse range of communities across Leicester.”

Antonio Benitez, Director of the British Science Festival, said: “I am delighted that the British Science Festival will be heading to De Montfort University in 2022. The University has built a fantastic reputation for its research and scientific excellence over recent years, and it’s incredibly exciting to know that we will be working with the world-class researchers and academics based there to produce the programme.

“I am thrilled that we will be able to bring the British Science Festival back to the region after such a long time away – Leicester and the East Midlands region have made some amazing contributions to science and innovation – and it is so exciting that we will be able to showcase some of this cutting-edge work to the people and communities living in the area.”

Community grants

Each year, the British Science Association provides grants of £500 to community groups/organisations in the host Festival city that work directly with audiences who are traditionally underrepresented and currently not engaged in science activity. We want to empower and support community groups to run their own science activities as part of the British Science Festival, enabling new local audiences to engage with science.

You can find more information on how to apply for a grant here.

The history of the Festival

The British Science Festival is the longest-standing science Festival in the UK. Organised by the British Science Association, it grew out of the tradition of the annual meetings of the Association – first held in York in 1831, and annually at cities across the UK, and further afield, ever since – bringing scientists together to discuss their ground-breaking work with one another, across scientific disciplines, and, crucially, with the general public.

It was at these annual meetings that major scientific advances were announced: Joule’s experiments on the mechanical equivalent of heat in the 1840s; Bessemer’s steel process (1856); the discovery of the first of the inert gases, Argon, by Rayleigh and Ramsay (1894); the first public demonstration of wireless transmission over a few hundred yards by Sir Oliver Lodge (1894); and J.J. Thomson’s discovery of the electron (1899). It was at these meetings that the term ‘scientist’ was coined, and the ‘dinosaur’ named.

The annual meetings were designed to engender discussion and debate. Perhaps the best remembered of all was at Oxford in 1860: Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’ had been published in 1859, but his health was not good enough to allow him to go to the Oxford meeting. Darwin’s ‘bulldog’, T.H. Huxley, was there, though, and brilliantly debated Darwinism with Samuel Wilberforce, Lord Bishop of Oxford who was Vice President of the Association at the time.

The British Science Festival has inspired the growth of countless other science festivals – from large and established ones (Cheltenham, Edinburgh and Manchester) to smaller and newer events (Aberdeen, Brighton and Winchester).

You can read the evaluation reports from previous Festivals, on the BSA’s website.

Scientific Sections

The British Science Association’s Scientific Sections play a crucial role in both developing content for the Festival programme and advising on the latest developments within their fields. The British Science Association has 17 Scientific Sections, encompassing all aspects of physical and social sciences.

Find out more about the Sections and how to get involved here.

“Science isn’t separate from other aspects of our culture.”

Professor Jim Al-Khalili, former President of the British Science Association