With over 700 days since we were last celebrating the people, stories and ideas at the heart of science, it felt so good to be back for British Science Festival 2021 – if a little bit surreal.

Everyone from astronomers, birds of prey, athletes, chefs, artists, comedians to musicians from all over the world descended on the streets of Chelmsford from 7 –11 September for this year’s British Science Festival. And boy, did we celebrate our 191st rodeo in style, with over 100 free events including mind-bending performances, immersive experiences, and interactive workshops.

Before we look towards next year’s Festival, let’s take a moment to reminisce about the highlights of the British Science Festival 2021.

Events that inspired


Hidden away in the heart of Chelmsford, tucked behind a cathedral with only sporadic lights and strange noises giving away the notion that something special is about to happen…festival-goers stumbled upon the unexpected, our BODY installation.

We revelled in the outdoor immersive journey, exploring six different zones of the human body. There were lights. There were special effects. Sound. Fire. Cutting-edge technology. All fused together to create a deeper understanding of the science behind the human form, designed to delight and inspire incurably curious minds, by world-renowned outdoor arts experts, Walk the Plank.

The Sky at Night

For a spot of stargazing and a glimpse into the world of space and astronomy, British Science Festival attendees transformed into a live audience at a recording of the BBC’s The Sky at Night.

Cosmologist, Hiranya Peiris and planetary scientist, Carly Howett were joined alongside Chris Lintott, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Pete Lawrence, and Dallas Campbell to answer our questions on all things astronomical. The panel covered everything from the size of the universe (huge) to the possible nature of alien life (get ready, earthlings) and it is all available to watch on BBC4!

Watch the full episode here

The Listening Bench

Take a seat. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, we’ve all experienced upheaval and difficulties. It’s important to acknowledge that the past 18 months has affected each and every one of us in different ways.

We partnered with Snapping the Stiletto and challenged 16 Essex-based women to delve into an experience, a feeling, or a moment of self-reflection brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. These stories were captured into The Listening Bench.

Situated in the peaceful Bell Meadow Park at the heart of Chelmsford, this special bench offered a space to reflect on the highs, the lows, and everything in between of the past 18 months.

Hear the stories within

Uncovering cutting edge technology 

You don’t have a festival without a backstage meet and greet. We put our own twist on things, offering a meet and greet with Gita – the robot.

Gita, the two-wheeled, cargo-carrying robot was accompanied by real-life humans, Dr Pamela Knight Davidson, a health technology expert at Anglia Ruskin University, and Nic Palmarini, Director of National Innovation Centre Ageing.

Pamela and Nic helped demonstrate how technological innovations, such as Gita, are playing an increasing role in caring for the elderly in the UK – providing services from personal shopping to companionship.

Musical delights

Yellowstone's geysers in concert

On Friday night, we were transported to the unique and wonderful world of Yellowstone, experienced in a completely new way.

Geysers, hot springs and fumaroles were transformed into a classical concert performed by violinist, Katherine Snug, using a scientific process that links physical characteristics to melodies, harmonies and rhythms. Only at the British Science Festival.

This work has been developed by music composer and scientist, Dr Domenico Vicinanza (Anglia Ruskin University) and Dr Genevieve Williams (University of Exeter). A big thanks to Hot Box Live Events for hosting this gig!


Star speakers

It wouldn’t be the British Science Festival without some familiar faces added to the mix. This year, we welcomed some of the most prominent scientific minds, thought-leading academics, and captivating authors – all trailblazers in their fields. Their thought-provoking talks & discussions were nothing short of spectacular…

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

At the British Science Festival, we love our traditions. Every year (for the past 190 or so), we welcome the incoming President of the British Science Association to take the stage and give their Presidential Address.

This year’s President, space scientist and TV presenter, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, spoke to festival-goers at Chelmsford’s bustling Civic Theatre. In this brilliant evening of space exploration, we delved into Maggie’s childhood, her glittering career in space science, her vision for the future of space travel, and also the ongoing challenges of equality and diversity in science.

Professor Jenny Harries and Dr Mike Short

Pandemic reflections with Professor Jenny Harries OBE (Chief Executive, UK Health Security Agency) and Dr Mike Short CBE (Chief Scientific Advisor, Department for International Trade), gave Chelmsford the opportunity to have their burning COVID-19 questions answered. What does “following the science” actually mean? And what lessons have we learnt from the pandemic to ensure we are better prepared in the future?

Sir David Attenborough

Ok, we’re cheating a bit here. We didn’t *see* David in the flesh but we got to experience the next best thing, his voice. We all love and recognise those plummy, soft, staccato tones – even with our eyes closed. So, we were very excited that The Peregrine – audio escape trail British Science Festival event was narrated by the man himself.

David weaved his narrative of The Peregrine, a world-renowned nature book written by J.A. Baker, through a tapestry of the lush Chelmer Valley Nature Reserve. Festival goers immersed themselves in the solo walk through nature, bringing the fastest bird on Earth – the magnificent migrating peregrine falcon - to life.

Have a listen


Last but not least, a big thank you to our supporters who made British Science Festival 2021 possible. We couldn’t have done it without you:


Anglia Ruskin University

Ranked in the world’s top 350 institutions in the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) is a global university transforming lives through innovative, inclusive and entrepreneurial education and research.

 ARU’s research institutes and four faculties bridge scientific, technical and creative fields. They deliver impactful research which tackles pressing issues and makes a real difference to their communities. ARU’s academic excellence has been recognised by the UK’s Higher Education funding bodies, with 12 research areas assessed as world-leading.

Principal Partner 

Teledyne e2v

Teledyne e2v is part of the Teledyne Imaging Group. Our innovations enable our customers innovations through access to state-of-the-art technologies, driving the next generation of systems, in signal chain semiconductor devices, full spectrum imaging and high power radio frequency solutions.

Major Partner

Chelmsford City Council

Festival Partners

Willmott Dixon

Eden Project Learning

Venue Partners

The Ideas Hub

Hot Box Live events

A Canteen

Snapping the Stiletto

Chelmsford City Theatres  

Chelmsford Cathedral

Before you go, don’t forget to check out our in-depth and thought-provoking British Science Festival content being uploaded regularly on our blog.

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See you in Leicester for British Science Festival 2022…