Celebrating research at the FUTURES Festival

Posted in: Doing Public Engagement

The FUTURES Festival is returning for another year and is bigger and better than ever! We're bringing science, culture and research to life in new and exciting ways this autumn with something for all ages.

All across the South West, researchers will be heading out into shopping centres, pubs, museums, the streets, theatres, nature reserves, the airwaves and online to share their work.  FUTURES is taking research directly to the people!

FUTURES Festival 2023 programme

The consortium of the region's five universities - Bath Spa University, Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter and Plymouth University - have been working with a range of creative practitioners, artists, researchers and audiences to devise events and activities that bring together science and arts to explore how research is tackling some of the big issues we face today.

Our programme of 35 different events and activities across September and October includes late-night museum openings, hands-on activities, exhibitions, storytelling sessions, walks, comedy nights, talks, quizzes, radio shows and much more!

FUTURES is a research engagement festival like no other.

Getting hands-on

Flagship FUTURES Festival events take place on the last weekend of September. At the S.S. Great Britain in Bristol, the Cornish Bank in Falmouth, Plymouth's Guildhall and the Holburne Museum in Bath, audiences will have the opportunity to get hands-on with research and meet nearly 100 different researchers. Families will be able to explore research through a variety of exciting demonstrations and activities such as scavenger hunts through museum collections, donning virtual reality goggles and journeying to the depths of the ocean, getting crafty with art activities, testing out the latest medical equipment used to detect cancer, peering through high-powered microscopes and much more!

Images of Research

Passengers embarking from Bath Spa railway station will be able to experience Images of Research, an exhibition made up of imagery inspired by and taken directly from research happening at the University of Bath.

Getting social with media

I'm A Researcher - Ask Me Anything are events taking place on the social news website Reddit. Over autumn 2023, researchers will take part in text-based conversations in real-time, connecting with audiences to help understand what parts of their work are most relevant to the wide and diverse global audience who use the site. Meanwhile, over on YouTube, the Kids Invent Stuff team will broadcast their FUTURES Invention Challenge film, sharing their (often hilarious) testing of an invention submitted by a young person.

Walking and talking

Take a walk with a researcher. Around Falmouth town, Bristol city centre, Plymouth's Royal William Yard and the streets of Bath, we have a range of different walks with something for everyone. If you are a geology fan, then join Dr Jodie Fisher for her Stories in the Stones walk in Plymouth. Or, if you want to discover more about how the legacies of Bristol's historic researchers influence research happening today, come along for the Research Lives and Legacies tour. Or explore topics such as insect pollination, plastics, pharmaceuticals and fungi with researchers on walks around Falmouth. Or with the digital immersive theatrical journey, Test Tubes and Time Travel, visit locations around Bath and unlock videos that reveal the stories behind historic scientific pioneers and meet some of the scientists and engineers working in Bath today.

Laughing, talking and listening

With our FUTURES talks and discussion programme. Join in with the conversation and go behind the headlines to understand why people believe in conspiracy theories at the Pheonix Arts Centre in Exeter and explore Plymouth's urban heritage.  As well as an in-depth exploration of research topics, researchers will take you behind the scenes of their work and lives as researchers, sharing experiences using creative storytelling in Researchers' Tales and through comedy with the anarchic Science Showoff variety evening. We're also creating an immersive listening event, an audio cinema, where audiences are invited to sit and listen to the conversations that took place between researchers and community members from Bristol's Knowle West area discussing the future of their high street.

Expedition South West

Over the course of five days in September 2023, naturalists Leif Bersweden and Lucy Hodson are taking users of the social media platform Instagram on a natural history expedition across the South West heading from the beaches of Falmouth to the city centre of Bath, sharing the region's natural heritage in #NatureGram. Along the way, they'll be meeting researchers and people working to understand and look after the biodiversity of these areas and invite users to share their experiences.

Over the airwaves

Working with community radio stations across the South West, our community radio partner Stellaria Media has connected people with researchers to explore a range of topics that were of interest to them and their communities, including rewilding, sustainable tourism, period poverty and housing. Over the course of the year, they have co-produced radio content that will be broadcast on community radio stations over autumn 2023 with our FUTURES On Air programme.


FUTURES: A Festival of Discovery


The FUTURES Festival has been running since 2018 and is a unique collaboration between public engagement professionals at Bath Spa University, the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter and Plymouth University. The 2022 and 2023 editions have been funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the Horizon Europe Guarantee and between 2018 and 2021 funded by the European Commission under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions as part of European Researchers' Night.

Dean Veall is Deputy Head of Public Engagement at the University of Bath

Posted in: Doing Public Engagement


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