Performers, 2 men and one woman, dressed in yellow, hold infinity spiral of themselves.

Best events for teenagers at the Manchester Science Festival

It can be tough to find things to do with older children over the school holidays. Luckily, the Manchester Science Festival has dozens of events that will fascinate everyone from pre-teens to sixteen-year-olds and even their older siblings. While many festival events are suitable for all ages, we’ve picked out those that are particularly aimed at older children and teenagers. Find out more below, and scroll to the bottom for our at-a-glance guide.

Jump to: Suitable for pre-teens; Suitable for ages 12-15; Suitable for ages 16+

Suitable for pre-teens


Tape. Image: Numen/For Use

Inquisitive older children aged 10 or 11 can enjoy a host of events that will also entertain their older siblings and friends. Discover the fascinating art of taxidermy at Stuffed (Gallery Oldham, Saturday 21 October), where one of the UK’s leading taxidermists, will be taking you on a fascinating tour under the skin of the craft, peeling away the layers of history and ethics that surround this often misunderstood practice. Or to misquote Morrissey, head to The Burger Apocalypse (Rapha Manchester Clubhouse, Saturday 21 October) and ask “If meat is murder, are burgers environmental assault?” This entertaining and highly participative show explains how to create the “perfect” burger, one that’s healthy, tasty and good for the environment.

What’s the greatest musical instrument ever made? No, not the recorder… the human voice.

Join soprano Daniela Sicari, baritone John Jones and University of Salford Professor of Acoustics Trevor Cox at Electrifying the Voice (Chetham’s Library, Thursday 19 October) as they explore this most exquisite of instruments. Mixing scientific analysis with musical interludes, you’ll be taken on an exploration of the workings of the voice and how it can be adapted to different styles.

Families must work together at The Great Energy Escape (Manchester Museum, Saturday 28 October and Sunday 29 October), a race against time for participants to reduce emissions and keep the lights on under pressure. If you’re interested in all things energy, you could also try Smart Cities (Number 70 Oxford Street, Friday 20 October) to discover how scientists from the European Commission are rising to the challenge of keeping Europe’s lights on and what this means for Manchester’s future as we explore a world of biofuels and next-generation batteries.

If your spidey sense is tingling try Tape (Museum of Science and Industry, Thursday 19 October – Sunday 29 October), a giant installation by award-winning artists Numen/For Use, who have transformed the 1830 Warehouse into a giant spider’s web made from sticky tape. Using layers of sticky tape and plastic similar to cling-film, you can clamber into the rafters by climbing up a web suspended between ceiling and floor. And at People Like Me (The East Hub Employment Centre, Wednesday  25 October) future Marie Curies and Ada Lovelaces can play a personality quiz that’ll give you a future, not fashion tips.

Suitable for ages 12-15

Man throwing a pink and blue plastic object in the air
600 Words. Photographer: Ed Collier

From forensic science to fake news, music and dance to murderous dolphins, some of the most exciting events at this year’s festival are also the most teen-friendly.

From Sherlock Holmes to CSI, forensics fascinate us, and at CSI Manchester (Minshull Street Crown Court, Saturday 21 October), held in a stunning Victorian-era court to explore where science meets criminal justice, you’ll learn the history of forensics, study state-of-the-art techniques take part in a mock trial as a member of the jury. Will you interpret the evidence correctly, or convict an innocent man? The game’s afoot.

With fake news making headlines over the last 12 months, how do we sort fact from fiction, when media channels keep contradicting each other? Pay a visit to the Library of Fake News (MediaCityUK, Saturday 21 October – Friday 27 October) and get ready to get real. Discover how the truth died a death in the public eye. Find out why misinformation could mean that now more than ever, seeing is no longer believing. Learn how to take the spin off news stories, and reveal what’s really there. When it comes to quirky, interesting days out, the Library of Fake News is an experience you just can’t trump.

Covering stellar wobble, the mirror test, capitalist chimps and murderous dolphins, 600 People (53 Two, Monday 24 October) is a simple show about big ideas. Somewhere between stand-up and astrophysics, it explores evolution, intelligence, extraterrestrials, humanity, communication, space travel and the stories we tell to understand our place in the cosmos.

Aeon: Patient X

There’s an outbreak – a deadly contagion grips Arcadia Life Sciences, and members of the public are urgently needed to help scientists identify the carrier of the virus behind the pandemic. Welcome to Aeon: Patient X (Michael Smith Building, University of Manchester, Saturday 21 October), an immersive theatre experience from the team behind Aeon: Live at MSF16. You’ll be guided through the event to uncover viral traces, working your way towards the source of the contagion: Patient X. Creator Richard Evans is also the man behind Sentinel (Waterside Arts Centre, Thursday 19 October), where sinewy synths, ethereal vocals and electro rhythms meld seamlessly with lasers and cutting-edge lighting and data visualisation for a captivating live performance inspired by climate change and forced migration.

Can’t wait for the start of the festival? Head to trailblazer event The Music of Proof: What Does Maths Sound Like? (RNCM, Wednesday 4 October) with composer Emily Howard and mathematician Marcus du Sautoy to discuss how maths and music are intertwined. And for more musical mathematics, The Music of Proof: The Second Movement (RNCM, Tuesday 24 October) will see everything from a performance by a specially assembled string quartet, to a debate about whether you really can hear maths in music, using real audience data.


All the Delicate Duplicates

Dawson City: Frozen Time (HOME, Friday 27 October) has been a long time coming. Lost for half a century, 500 films were discovered buried under a subarctic swimming pool in Canada’s remote Yukon Territory. This is a feature film that quite literally pieces together history and features rare footage from the early silent era. From the past to the future with All the Delicate Duplicates (International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Sunday 22 October) where you can immerse yourself in a transmedia gameworld blurring fantasy and scientific realism. A showcase of the game will be followed by a chat about the role of gaming and technology in literature and storytelling.

Have you ever noticed that the world’s biggest popstars are all secretly maths nerds? Famelab 2016 champion Kyle D Evans has. Join the maths muso and guitarslinging geek at Born to Sum (Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, Monday 23 October) as he takes you on a comedic romp through pop music. There’s more laughs to be had at Festival Of The Spoken Nerd: You Can’t Polish A Nerd (The Lowry, Sunday 22 October), with a new show that puts the ‘ooh’ into zoology, the ‘fun’ into fundamental theorem and the ‘recursion’ into recursion. Full-frontal nerdity guaranteed.

All over the world, citizen science projects are popping up, providing a way for you to get involved with making world-changing discoveries. Find out more at #CitizenScience Showcase (MediaCityUK, Saturday 21 October and Sunday 22 October). Artistic teens will be fascinated by medical laboratory-meets-performance art Under Glass (The Lowry, Wednesday 18 October – Saturday 21 October), or alternatively try a screening and discussion of Atomos (Texture, Saturday 21 October) in which Wayne McGregor’s choreography, performed by his company of ten world-class dancers, is woven into an intense 70 minute film, taking creative points of departure from atomised film, music and biometric data. Or find out what happened when acclaimed artist Reena Saini Kallat delved into Manchester Museum’s natural science and human cultures collections for her solo exhibition (Manchester Museum, Thursday 19 October – Sunday 29 October).

Suitable for ages 16+

Plastic brains sit in rows on a circular shelf.
Into the Grey Zone. Image: “Brains” (CC BY 2.0) by Neil Conway

Vegan fashion needn’t be frumpy, as you’ll find at Hats off to vLeather (Hat Works Stockport, Thursday 26 October), where Jane Wood shows you how to grow your own organic fabric from kombucha. Cue Stockport hatmaker and Hat Works curator, Bronwen Simpson, who’ll help you create a fashion statement using this biodegradable wonder fabric.

The Science Museum Group’s own Dr Roger Highfield will host two events delving deep into new scientific research. At Reproduction 2.0 (Museum of Science and Industry, Thursday 19 October), find out how human reproduction is entering a new era. Join Prof Sir Doug Turnbull, Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, Prof Robin Lovell-Badge to uncover how far science has progressed – from the very first test tube baby in Oldham, to creating GM babies and even artificial embryos. And at Into the Grey Zone (Museum of Science and Industry, Thursday 26 October) delve into the twilight world of consciousness between awareness, sleep, coma and death. Often called the most complex object in the human universe, you’ll experience first-hand why the brain is the great unknown and explore the twilight zone between awareness and eternal rest.

Go radio gaga as we explore the science and tech behind broadcasting and transmitting Pirate Radio (Museum of Science and Industry, Sunday 22 October). Inspired by Samson Young’s radio plays about Chinese migrants making their way to Europe on foot, find out how communities using the ultra-low wattage of self-made transmitters cheekily circumvented public broadcasting laws back in the day, and build your very own mini FM transmitter, just like they did in 70’s Japan.

At-a-Glance Guide

Suitable for pre-teens

Electrifying the Voice – Chetham’s Library, Thursday 19 October

Tape – Museum of Science and Industry, Thursday 19 October – Sunday 29 October

Stuffed – Gallery Oldham, Saturday 21 October

The Burger Apocalypse – Rapha Manchester Clubhouse, Saturday 21 October

People Like Me – The East Hub Employment Centre, Wednesday  25 October

The Great Energy Escape – Manchester Museum, Saturday 28 October and Sunday 29 October

Suitable for ages 12-15

The Music of Proof: What Does Maths Sound Like? – RNCM, Wednesday 4 October

Under Glass – The Lowry, Wednesyda 18 October – Saturday 21 October

Reena Saini Kallat – Manchester Museum, Thursday 19 October – Sunday 29 October

Sentinel – Waterside Arts Centre, Thursday 19 October

Aeon: Patient X – Michael Smith Building, University of Manchester, Saturday 21 October

Atomos – Texture, Saturday 21 October

#CitizenScience Showcase – MediaCityUK, Saturday 21 October and Sunday 22 October

CSI Manchester – Minshull Street Crown Court, Saturday 21 October

Library of Fake News – MediaCityUK, Saturday 21 October – Friday 27 October

All the Delicate Duplicates – International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Sunday 22 October

Festival Of The Spoken Nerd: You Can’t Polish A Nerd – The Lowry, Sunday 22 October

Born to Sum – Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, Monday 23 October

600 People – 53 Two, Tuesday 24 October

The Music of Proof: The Second Movement – RNCM, Tuesday 24 October

Dawson City: Frozen Time – HOME, Friday 27 October

Suitable for ages 16+

Reproduction 2.0 – Museum of Science and Industry, Thursday 19 October

Pirate Radio – Museum of Science and Industry, Sunday 22 October

Hats off to vLeather – Hat Works Stockport, Thursday 26 October

Into the Grey Zone – Museum of Science and Industry, Thursday 26 October