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Top tips for first-time visitors to the British Science Festival

Top tips for first-time visitors to the British Science Festival

1. Get to know the programme
Get yourself a copy of the programme and a pen to mark the events you really want to go to. During the Festival, always have a copy of the programme in your bag, so that you can make a 'plan B' in case your 'plan A' is sold out (although it’s still worth turning up to sold out events, since tickets might be available at the door). You might also want to carry a notebook (you never know who you might meet and what you might learn!).

2. Plan in advance but don't overbook
Book your tickets in advance for the events you don’t want to miss to make sure we’ll have a seat ready for you. Remember, you don't have to splash the cash for every event as many of them are FREE, but make sure you double check whether you need to book or if it’s a drop-in session.  Also, allow some free time so you can try something different and enjoy the general festival feel of the city and campus.

3. Surprise yourself
If you see an event that looks interesting, go for it! Aim for a mix of experiences; pick an event you wouldn’t necessarily go to, you might be pleasantly surprised. Yes, it might not be exactly what you had expected - but hopefully in a really good way! Step away from the traditional programme – sure, all the famous faces are here, you can go and enjoy them, but also have a look at the new events, the theatre events and trips and tours and all the other things that go on in and around the Festival venues.

4. Keep a Festival map
Give yourself enough time to move between events by checking times and locations to avoid having to rush between events, as some are based on campus and some are taking place in the City centre. The maps on pages 44 and 45 of the programme will give you an idea of where venues are (and Google Map is always a good friend when it comes to checking travel time). 

5. Get a taste of the Festival
Pop into The Flask and Bunsen on Chancellor’s Court to get a flavour of the Festival with the x-change. Part chat-show, part science cabaret, this Festival highlight event (Monday - Thursday, 1:15pm) has all the best bits from the programme; featuring speakers, big issues, fun science facts and demos…  You might even meet some inspiring famous faces too!

6. Meet future famous faces
Be the first to say “I knew this scientist before he/she was on TV!” – meet the National Science + Engineering  Competition winners 2014, they are under 18-years-old and came up with brilliant projects such as developing an early diagnostic tool for cancer and building an arcade machine from scratch. More established (but still quite young!), the scientists presenting the Award Lectures are recognised, active, early career researchers who are skilled in communicating their research and who are invited to present a special lecture during the Festival. Previous Award Lecturers include Brian Cox, Richard Wiseman and Maggie Aderin-Pocock to name a few!

7. Be curious
Ask questions when you are given a chance to, you might regret it if you don’t as it's a fantastic opportunity to ask a question directly to scientists. No question is too big or too small and our presenters and scientists will be very happy to see that you’re interested in their subject. 

8. Have a break
As much as science is food for thought; make sure that you recharge your batteries. Find the food and drink outlets in and around campus and plan lunch and tea breaks in your Festival plan, we wouldn’t want you to lack energy for the last event of the day or night. 

9. Science never sleeps
The Festival is not only a daytime festival, so don’t forget to check out the array of exciting evening events.  There is something for everyone, from dancing to a pub quiz, and film screenings to debating; you will find great 'science with a twist' events in the programme. You can also follow the latest Festival news - and perhaps even join in the discussions - on the Festival Twitter account @BritishSciFest.


The British Science Festival is coming to Birmingham from 6th to 11th September 2014. You can download a copy of the programme and book your tickets online

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