Edinburgh Science Festival programme unveiled, with mix of live and virtual events

One World: Science Connects Us is the theme of the 2021 festival, which has shifted from its usual slot during the Easter holidays to be held between 26 June and 11 July.

Care for the planet also remains a long-standing focus of the event, with a world-class line-up of speakers and events highlighting the urgency of taking action to combat the climate crisis.

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The popular festival – the first of its kind in the world and the biggest in Europe – will see a mixture of in-person and virtual activities, with more than 80 per cent available digitally and free to access for anyone around the world.

Although organisers admit the festival will be a bit different from usual because of the Covid pandemic, they have welcomed being “back in the live game” with a focus on “getting out and about and interacting with science of all sorts”.

Highlights include the large-scale Pale Blue Dot exhibition, celebrating the science, beauty and mystery of our oceans, which is at the National Museum of Scotland.

There’s also what promises to be a fascinating talk by Professor Heidi Larson, founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and winner of this year’s Edinburgh Medal.

Nine inspiring females are featured in the Women in STEM Art Trail, which will see visitors taken to nine locations around the city to see installations highlighting their achievements.

The popular Edinburgh Science Festival is returning this year in a new slot kicking off on on 26 June, with a mix of online and in-person events

The topical and moving In Memoriam project, by Artist Luke Jerram, pays tribute to the people who lost their lives during the pandemic and honours medical staff and volunteers goes on display for the first time ever in Scotland, at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

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Portobello promenade will play hosts to Human Nature, a large-scale photography exhibition exploring nature’s fragility and connection with humankind.

A series of online talks will be hosted on the festival’s YouTube channel, examining topics such as the Covid-19 pandemic, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, women in space and animal conservation.

Sacha Dench, the ‘human swan’, is giving a talk at this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival

Guest speakers include Dr Emily Hepburn, ‘the Psychology Mum’; science presenter Greg Foot; queer ecology scholar Dr Nicole Seymour; ethical hacker Rupert Goodwins; conservationist and environmentalist Mya-Rose Craig; inventor Alison Grieve; and post-conflict trauma expert Thanos Karatzias.

The is also a bursting programme for children, with digital workshops, talks and downloadable resources as well as walks, exhibitions and interactive experiences around Edinburgh.

Amanda Tyndall, director of Edinburgh Science Festival, 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.

The festival has a wide selection of events for children

“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.”

Scottish culture minister Jenny Gilruth said: “This programme offers online and in person experiences that will connect audiences to an excellent line-up of speakers and events highlighting the urgency of taking action to combat the climate crisis.

“I urge everyone to get involved.”

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