Here at the British Science Association we’re all about spicing things up, and this year’s British Science Festival was no exception. Based in the seaside city of Swansea, the festival offered everything from traditional research talks to quirky hands-on experiences both on the University campus and throughout the city. With talks on space, music, medicine, technology and, of course, rugby, we made sure everyone was catered for.

Dallas Campbell interviews George Abbey at the festivalIf ground-breaking research and fantastic speakers are your thing, then the Award Lectures would have been right up your street. These were selected for their creative and engaging explanation of a complex scientific topic, and this year ranged from talks on Antarctic ice melt to the technology of e-textiles. Particular acclaim went to Carolyn McGettigan and Daisy Fancourt, who both used live singing on stage to illustrate their biological research. Rob Malkin, studying insect acoustics, gave audiences the opportunity to experience what it’s like to wear a hearing aid, and Adam Kucharski, sharing his research on the maths behind epidemiology, even created an ‘audience epidemic’.

As well as award-winning researchers, we also had the privilege of hosting a number of inspiring science celebrities at the festival. Take Lyn Evans, for instance, who was responsible for building the Large Hadron Collider at CERN- or Dr Emily Grossman who, at Story Collider, shared her emotional but empowering story about why we should challenge the stereotype of women in science. Then there was the much awaited conversation between TV presenter, Dallas Campbell, and NASA legend, George Abbey- a truly inspiring reflection on the past 50 years of spaceflight.

For those who fancied something a bit more hands-on, we took great advantage of Swansea’s cultural and geographical assets. The beach (‘just a 50 second walk from the University’ so we’re told) proved a fantastic location for our sonic kayaking and science surf lessons. The Uplands bars, where we installed interactive exhibits and free festival beer, were also a big hit and as for ‘Creatures of the Night’ at Plantasia, where audiences could test out virtual reality goggles and come face-to-face with talking umbrellas, we don’t think Swansea’s seen anything like it!

Preparing to sonic kayak at the festival

For festival-goers more inclined to wind-down at the end of the day, we offered plenty of alternative evening entertainment. A conversation between Opd-Ed Editor at Nature and OCD sufferer, David Adam, and neuroscientist, Uta Frith, proved particularly insightful, as did the heart-wrenching science encounters shared at Story Collider. For those into performance art, you could have headed to Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen production, or enjoyed the delights of the popular science podcast, Science(ish), led by presenter, Rick Edwards, and journalist, Dr Michael Brooks. Or, if you really just wanted some good, old-fashioned flashes and bangs, then the Beach Party, relocated to the weatherproof University campus, would have more than satisfied your inner child thanks to Matthew Tosh’s fantastic performance.

With Brighton now confirmed as next year’s festival location, we can’t wait to start planning our 2017 programme. In the meantime, don’t worry- we have plenty for you to indulge in! Check out our blog written by a mix of freelance writers, BSA media fellows and festival contributors. It offers the chance to get to grips with some of the most ground-breaking topics discussed at the festival, as well as get a gist of some of the more quirky and exciting events. All the blogs and festival-related news stories can be found on our website, along with all the exciting updates we’ll be posting about next year’s festival. Bring on #BSF17!