Edinburgh Science Festival announces summer 2021 programme

Edinburgh Science Festival announces summer 2021 programme

credit: Ian Georgeson

The festival reveals new summer dates for a hybrid festival that explores how science connects us all, ahead of COP26 in Glasgow this November

Edinburgh Science Festival has announced that they'll be moving their traditional Easter dates to Sat 26 June–Sun 11 July this year, with the theme of 'One World: Science Connects Us'. Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, the programming will be a vibrant mix of online and in-person events across the Scottish capital, with over 200 events, talks, tours and workshops for all ages, and featuring a roster of guest speakers that is proudly 60% women.

Over the past year of the pandemic, it's never been more clear how science permeates every aspect of our lives – from the development of vaccines, to scenes of julibiant, flourishing nature as humankind took a step back. As such, Edinburgh Science Festival's 2021 programme will be its most ambitious and most accessible yet, with 70% of all events to be free and available to people across the world via its digital platforms.

Alongside its digital offerings, however, the festival also boasts a dynamic, city-wide schedule of exhibitions, walks and tours in locations across Edinburgh, from their Women in STEM Street Art Trail, the exciting return of SciMart to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, to Luke Jerram's touring artwork In Memoriam, which will pay tribute to the lives we lost during the pandemic, and the heroic efforts of NHS staff.

Edinburgh Science Festival announces summer 2021 programme

L-R: Isabel Maia (12) and Conor Ellis, Edinburgh Science Festival / credit: Ian Georgeson

One vital thematic strand that runs throughout the programme is climate change and the crisis it poses to every aspect of our lives, from our imperilled food systems to the life-giving importance of marine biodiversity. As the world turns its eyes on Scotland ahead of COP26 in Glasgow this November, Edinburgh Science Festival is seizing this opportunity to suggest how more equitable, sustainable ways of living can lead to better outcomes for us all. Highlights include the exhibition Pale Blue Dot, which will take place in the Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland; the online discussion Reconnecting to Nature, which will see young leaders propose new tools to democratise learning; and a talk with Sacha Dench, who flew across 11 countries by paramotor in order to help save Berwick's swans.

Another important focus of this year's festivals will be on the Covid-19 pandemic and the legacy it will have on the scientific community, as well as our society as a whole. This year's recipient of the prestigious Edinburgh Medal will be Heidi Larson, the Founding Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Larson will be delivering a talk about her work in the field of public health, and the importance of combating misunderstandings around vaccines.

Other highlights include an audio experience in Edinburgh's George Square, titled Life in the COVID Bubble: Voices from the Frontline of Critical Care, will highlight experiences of those who worked in intensive care during the pandemic, and the online talk Aftershocks, which will feature two experts in post-conflict trauma discuss the impact that Covid-19 has had on our collective mental health.

Edinburgh Science Festival announces summer 2021 programme

L-R: Winnie Maia (8), Valentina Maia (6), Prof. Peter Tasker / credit: Ian Georgeson

The festival will also have plenty of families and the wee ones this summer, with plenty of events and workshops to engage kids of all ages. The online programme features shows hosted by Blue Peter regular Greg Foot, delving into the future of food and the deepest depths of our oceans, as well as a Cyber Zone which will host workshops on coding, apps and AI for children ages 12+.

Outside, families can head to Inch Park, don their deerstalker and crack cases alongside the famous detective in the outdoors adventure Sherlock Holmes and the Biofilms Mystery, or travel back in time at Warriston Cemetery through The Dead Interesting Tour, which will shine a light on the achievements of its deceased tenants throughout the ages.

Speaking of the programme, Amanda Tyndall, Edinburgh Science's Festival and Creative Director said: 'It is an understatement to say that it has been an exceptional year; a year that has shown us just how intimately interconnected our world is. We share one world and need to innovate and collaborate to tackle global challenges and embrace the opportunities ahead. In in a spirit of optimism, resilience and hope – our 2021 Festival explores new ideas and formats that ensure audiences can safely get their science fix this summer.'

Edinburgh Science Festival will run from Sat 26 June–Sun 11 July. For more details, visit sciencefestival.co.uk.