NI Science Festival 2018: From prehistoric Irish dining to filming Planet Earth and more

The fourth annual festival dares to go where it's never gone before, with 180 events to stimulate minds of all ages across Northern Ireland

An acclaimed astronaut, an esteemed wildlife cameraman, two celebrated bakers and a prehistoric feast with a renowned Professor top the bill as the fourth annual NI Science Festival announces its largest-ever programme.

The complete schedule of events was revealed today, Thursday, January 11, as the festival launched its 2018 programme at Belfast Central Library.

With over 180 events across 11 days and spanning over 50 venues throughout Northern Ireland, NI Science Festival 2018 is the science extravaganza’s most ambitious programme to date, stimulating and suitable for all ages.

Alongside its flagship events, the festival will host a range of workshops, talks and interactive activities for young people, parents and schools, coupled with an assortment of debates, talks, theatre, comedy, music and film to open the mind to the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics for older audiences.

Some of this year’s biggest events include: An Evening with Colonel Chris Hadfield at the SSE Arena on February 15; A Taste of Prehistory at the Ulster Museum on February 23; Doug Allan - An Eye Below Zero at the Whitla Hall, Queen’s University Belfast on February 25; and Bakineering in Space at the Ulster Museum on the same day.

Other intriguing events include The Science of Harry Potter on February 17 which will explore the science behind the hit franchise’s fantastic feats, while Carla Valentine, curator of the world-famous Barts Pathology Museum, talks all things autopsy and anatomy on February 18, drawing upon her experience as a mortician in Morbid Anatomy: Life & Death Inside the Mortuary (16+).


Carla Valentine

With 10% of the population sporting radiant red locks, Dr Declan McKenna discusses the ginger gene (February 20), explaining how it affects hair colour and why it is so common in this part of the world in Ginger Genetics (18+).

In the fight against Bacterial pathogens developing resistance to the miracle medicine, antibiotics; hear from experts in infection control about the threat of the spread of superbugs in The Antibiotic Apocalypse (14+), at Ulster University February 21. Learn how scientists are developing new treatments to tackle antibiotic-resistant bacteria, to prevent civilisation stepping back into a medical Dark-Age.

NI Science Festival Director, Chris McCreery, commented: 'We’ve witnessed a real resurgence and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, from people of all ages. From robotics to astronautics, health, medicine, and the natural world. NI Science Festival 2018 presents a jam-packed programme of events covering the big issues of today alongside the weird and wonderful from the world of science that the festival has become synonymous with.

'Over 11 days, you can dine in prehistoric Ireland with Professor Alice Roberts; join Colonel Chris Hadfield as he talks through his five-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS); listen to wildlife cameraman, Doug Allen – who has worked on hugely popular series including Blue PlanetPlanet Earth and Frozen Planet – as he delivers a fascinating talk on marine biology, diving and filming at the poles; and even join Great British Bake Off stars Andrew Smyth and Tom Gillford as they facilitate an interactive session exploring the astonishing connections between everyday bakes and the extraordinary engineering that helps keep astronauts alive in space.

He added: 'With over 180 events, NI Science Festival 2018 surely has something that will appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds.'

NI Science Festival is supported by the Department for the Economy, Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast, Ulster University, Innovate UK, British Council Northern Ireland, Matrix and STEM recruitment specialists MCS Group.

Mike Brennan, Deputy Secretary at the Department for the Economy, said­: 'The NI Science Festival has continued to go from strength to strength since beginning in 2015 and is now in its fourth year. As the lead sponsor the Department recognises the importance of the Festival in helping to promote and raise the profile of STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – to young people and their families through interesting and fun events.

'Research has shown that the demand for STEM skills will continue to grow and festivals such as these help to open people’s eyes to the wide variety of careers, which an interest in STEM subjects can lead to.'

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister commented: 'The NI Science Festival is highly anticipated by families, academics and science enthusiasts alike – its diverse 11-day programme brings events for all ages to enjoy to venues across Northern Ireland. Each event brings creativity, vibrancy, stimulates minds, stirs debate, and highlights the advances in science, technology, engineering and maths.

We have a rich heritage of scientists, engineers and inventors here – people whose inventions have changed the world from John Bell’s Theorem and Harry Ferguson’s tractors, to Frank Pantridge’s defibrillator. And with the NI Science Festival inspiring our emerging talents, who knows what these young people will pioneer in STEM professions in the future?  

'I’m particularly looking forward to hearing from Colonel Chris Hadfield on why we should dream the impossible. It’s fantastic that he’s returning to Belfast to inspire our budding scientists and astronomers.'

Tickets for all NI Science Festival events can now be booked at Keep up to date with the festival on social media via Facebook and Twitter.