Manchester Science Festival 2016 by Director Antonio Benitez

In 2016, we celebrated the 10th annual Manchester Science Festival, and my first as director of this 11-day celebration of science. This was our most popular festival yet. We welcomed over 136,000 visitors to 125 unique experiences to 60 venues across Greater Manchester. We could not achieve this without support from over 1,000 scientists, researchers, science communicators and artists, and from 90 Festival partners who brought these events to our audiences. This alliance of meaningful partnerships helps us to bring the cultural elements of science that we are passionate about to people across the country. You can watch some of the highlights from the Festival here.

We brought three exciting headline events to this year’s festival. Working with artists Loop.pH, we brought a sleep lab to the Manchester Arndale. Over the course of 11 days, thousands of people climbed into hammocks and experienced lighting and music scientifically designed to help you sleep.

Meanwhile, Public Service Broadcasting played their album The Race For Space in full for the first time to 2,000 fans at the Albert Hall. Tim O’Brien from Jodrell Bank joined them on stage to bring the science for their musical story-telling of our first steps into space.

And no Manchester Science Festival would be complete without launching an exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry, the producers of the Festival. This year, with Cape Farewell, we commissioned Paris-based artists HeHe to bring their Cloud Crash exhibition to the museum. Inspired by James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory, the three pieces of the exhibition challenge us to think about our impact on the world around us.

Alongside our headliners, we had a vibrant programme of events that took place both here at the museum and across Greater Manchester. Some of our highlights this year were hearing Tim Peake talk about his time on the International Space Station, listening to a robot orchestra playing to families in the museum’s Revolution Manchester Gallery, seeing Siemens’ senior managers science busking with kebab sticks and balloons, bringing the Royal Society’s science exhibition out of London for the first time, listening to scientifically inspired poetry, taking part in a sensory sound pit at the University of Salford, playing with virtual reality, exploring our inner artists with The Whitworth and Gallery Oldham, hunting for infections with Quarry Bank, discovering how a research aeroplane works with the National Environmental Research Council, creating our very own terrariums, saving Manchester from a flood, trying to rescue humanity from a vicious disease and seeing exhibitions like Animal Kingdom at Manchester Museum and Capturing Science: Images of Past and Present at The John Rylands Library

With 2016 almost wrapped up, we are looking forward to planning 2017. We hope you will join us from 19 – 29 October 2017!

Antonio Benitez – Manchester Science Festival Director