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.
The British Science Association and the University of East London (UEL) are pleased to announce that the British Science Festival in 2024 will take place in London across four days. The Festival will be held between Wednesday 11 – Sunday 15 September.
Hannah Russell, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, says:
“We’re delighted to bring the British Science Festival 2024 to London. It’s been over 20 years since the Festival has been hosted in the capital – we’re excited to be returning and showcasing a range of cutting-edge science to residents in East London.
“We’re also thrilled to be hosted by such a future-focused, forward-thinking institution. UEL’s vibrant community and commitment to supporting their students and staff to have a positive impact on the world chimes extremely well with Festival’s values. We can’t wait to start working on the programme.”
Professor Amanda Broderick, UEL Vice-Chancellor and President, says:
“The University of East London looks forward to being, in 2024, the first London-based institution in nearly a quarter century to host the British Science Festival. Our University is one of the most diverse and socially inclusive in UK higher education, and our home London borough of Newham is among the most multicultural, youngest and fastest growing regions in Europe.
“We share common goals with the British Science Association: to enhance engagement between science and our communities, developing citizen scientists and better connecting those under-represented in our society. Hosting the British Science Festival will allow us to offer these opportunities while showcasing the research being carried out by our University in support of a fairer and more sustainable world.
“As the Chair of London Higher, I am proud of the vibrancy, variety and impact of the London scientific eco-system as a whole and welcome working with colleagues and institutions across London to celebrate the many strengths and opportunities of our global capital through the forum of the British Science Festival.”
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).