Organisers of the Festival of Tomorrow were blown away by the visitors’ enthusiastic reaction to the third annual celebration of science, technology and research, with thousands of visitors exploring the four interactive zones, and enjoying live events and shows at The Deanery CE Academy in Wichelstowe, Swindon.
“The response we’ve had from people has been phenomenal, and we really want to thank everyone who supported us, from our partners, sponsors, our dozens of exhibitors, and most importantly the people of Swindon and beyond who came and enjoyed themselves.” said festival organiser Dr Rod Hebden.
“We kept hearing from people how surprised, but how proud, they were to have a festival like this in Swindon. But Swindon really is the hub of research and innovation in the UK, and it’s right that people should share in that, find out about the latest science, and have a voice in the future of our world, whether that’s on technology, fundamental research, health or climate change.”
UK Research & Innovation revealed some of the latest research from across the natural and physical sciences, as well as the arts, with virtual reality experiences proving a big hit.
The UK Space Agency, The James Dyson Foundation and several leading Universities were among the top name exhibitors that entertained families with hands-on demonstrations and real-life science and technology, with robots walking amongst the crowds and a breath-taking artistic Sun installation using data from orbiting satellites.
Meanwhile spectacular science shows and talks on everything from mammoths to solar racing cars wowed the packed 400-seater theatre. Local community groups also enjoyed the day, with charities like the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Museum of Computing and Richard Jefferies Museum all exhibiting.
Young people played a leading role in shaping the activities – with students from the Deanery Academy intriguing visitors with CSI forensics activities, girls from the Badminton School wowing the crowds with demos and a climate citizenship panel chaired by 13-year-old Ayaan, from Swindon.
Alexis Mannion, Public Engagement Lead for UK Research & Innovation, said, “The Festival of Tomorrow is a wonderful opportunity to showcase UKRI’s research and innovation to the people of Swindon and beyond, and we are proud to have sponsored it."
“The knowledge and research that UKRI funds belongs to us all and it was so inspiring to see researchers and innovators having meaningful conversations with members of the public, to share ideas, and grow our understanding of the world together."
“The Festival of Tomorrow is our home festival and we’re excited to see how it can grow, not just in size, but in increasing the opportunities for people to participate in our research!”
The Festival of Tomorrow broke new ground too, with innovative new hybrid festival experiences. After the first festival held at STEAM Museum in 2020, the event had gone fully virtual in 2021. This year, organisers created a fully hybrid event, with most events streamed live through a virtual festival platform and presenters on stage joined by panellists and live feeds from across the world, including underground at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and even on deck of a climate research ship in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Africa!
Ashish, a visitor to the event, said “This is an amazing experience. Kids not only thoroughly enjoyed it but also it increased their interest in science and technology. The staff were very helpful in listening to the children’s questions and satisfy their curiosity. Simply amazing!”