CURIOUS kids with a passion for science will be in their element at half term when Brighton Science Festival opens with a scientific selection of entertaining talks, eye-opening shows and hands-on workshops.

With more than 40 events for those whose curiosity is bubbling over, the festival features rocket science, a live brain dissection, a puppet show about a feminist Frankenstein, robot wars, Minecraft, designing a race track, astronomy, nerds and wooden automata. And it’s all in the name of science.

The hands-on half term festival at various venues around Brighton and Hove from October 20-26, has extraordinary people showing young people how to make extraordinary things.  Engaging experts and educational entertainers including Simon Watt, Michael Brooks and Robin Ince. 

A full week of workshops offers a wide range of activities and experiences, from watching hilarious science shows to learning new skills like paleontology and programming. Kids can get messy with soap and slime, exploding tubs and vomiting pumpkins. They’ll also have close encounters with mosquitos, live bats and the world’s ugliest animals before exploring outer space, building robots and letting off rockets. Health and safety won’t know what’s hit it.

Among the big days are:

Big Science Saturday

One Church, Gloucester Road, Brighton

Saturday October 27, 10am-6pm

Tickets £10/concs £3. Age 16+

This is a whole day of direct and engaging talks aimed at adults. A variety of topical subjects will be covered by a bill of top experts including bestselling science author Brian Clegg and Tom Whipple, science editor for The Times. We’ll look at the linguistic conflicts that divide the English and American languages; the 16th century origins of quantum physics; and how scientific discoveries are changing the gender debate. We also have Isabella Tree from the Knepp rewilding project who has overseen an extraordinary increase of wildlife on what was once an unsustainable West Sussex farm.

The Monstrous Day

Sallis Benney Theatre, 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton

Sunday October 28, 12noon-6pm

Tickets £14/concs £12/students £3. Age 16+

Marking the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, this day of events explores the ramifications of Mary Shelley’s startling prophecy: designer babies, body donation, transhumanism, robots, artificial intelligence and the cloud-monsters of Google and Facebook. Michael Brooks, the former editor of New Scientist magazine, joins a selection of engaging pop science presenters to investigate what makes us human with mini talks and open discussions. Getting involved is the best way to grasp the issues, but visitors will leave with a brain full of new questions.

Other highlights include:

Blast Science: Steve’s Space-travaganza 

Rialto Theatre, 11 Dyke Road, Brighton

Monday October 22, 11am-12noon, 1.30pm-2.30pm and  3pm-4pm

Tickets £8/concs £6. Age 7+

Join Steve from Blast Science and voyage round the planets, to the stars and beyond. With a rocket full of interactive demos, the show can be enjoyed by children and adults alike – there are loads of opportunities to come and help Steve… (he definitely can’t get into space without your help).

Pocket Science Funfair

British Airways i360, Lower Kings Road, Brighton

Monday-Wednesday October 22-24, 10.30am-4pm

Tickets £4/family £14/u7s free

The funfair with a twist celebrates the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter by dealing out a little magic of our own. And why stop at Potter? There are also special effects from The Lord of the Rings and from Star Wars. There will be a chance to learn how to do magic with electrostatics – the magic that holds the universe together. You do it with a wand – not the clunky, Potteresque type, but one powerful enough to channel electrostatic forces into some pretty neat tricks: a plastic drinking straw.  And you can hear from a Star Wars actor how they made the sound of the storm-troopers’ guns. 

Robin Ince – I’m a Joke and So Are You

Ropetackle Arts Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea

Tuesday October 23, 7pm. Age 16+

Tickets £8

In this comedian’s take on what makes us human, Robin Ince examines the human condition through the prism of humour. He has spent decades mining our eccentricities to create gags – and watching other strange individuals do the same. And for years he has sought – sometimes in vain – to understand the world around us. Informed by personal insights from his own life as well as interviews with a bevy of A-list comedians, neuroscientists, psychologists and doctors, this is a hilarious and often moving primer to the mind.

Above: Blast Science: Steve’s Space-travaganza

Below: The Creation of Adam

Above: Big Science Saturday

Below: The Monstrous Day


Above: Pocket Science Funfair

Below: Robin Ince

Above: Live Brain Dissection

Below: The Ugly Animal Roadshow

Above: Look Up! with Simon Watt

Below: The Wrong Stuff with Ian B Dunne

Above: Rocket Factory

Below: Now That’s What I Call A Lot Of Songs About Science

Live Brain Dissection

Anatomy Laboratory, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex,  Biology Road, Falmer

Wednesday October 24, 1pm-2pm

Free but ticketed. Age 8+/u16s must be accompanied by an adult

This is a demonstration by Dr Claire Smith, Head of Anatomy, and Catherine Hennessy, Anatomy Teaching Fellow, both at Brighton Sussex Medical School. See what goes on inside a brain. Aristotle thought it was a blood-cooling system, and on first glance it’s hard to distinguish it from a pile of sausages. Careful analysis over centuries has revealed its beautiful, intricate structure. In the fully equipped anatomy laboratory, Claire will be able to show every detail on screen for the audience. It will be an active session, with volunteer participation at certain stages. 

The Ugly Animal Roadshow

Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton

Wednesday October 24, 2pm-3pm

Tickets £6/concs £3. Age 6+

Simon Watt, a writer, science communicator and TV presenter who also runs the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, a comedy night with a conservation twist, asks why pandas should get all the praise. The Ugly Animal Roadshow is all about raising the profile of the world’s most aesthetically challenged endangered species. This is a family-friendly performance that celebrates and explores the incredible biology of the animal kingdom’s most monstrous species. The show features videos, demonstrations and audience participation.

Look Up! with Simon Watt

Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton

Wednesday October 24, 4pm

Tickets £6/concs £3. Age 6+

Simon Watt, a biologist, writer, science communicator and TV presenter, explores some of the science behind space exploration. Which planet is hottest? Which would float in a swimming pool? Which is the most studied? And just how much space is in space? Join him in this live show to see what experiments you can recreate at home or school and learn about what you can see if you only look up.

Ian B Dunne: The Wrong Stuff

Latest Music Bar, 14-17 Manchester Street, Brighton

Thursday October 25, 7.30pm

Tickets £10/concs £8. Age 12+

Ian B Dunne, the Science Showman, takes a series of sideways leaps through the dead ends of the history of science with an emphasis on entertainment, amusement and changing the way you look at the world. It’s a whistle-stop tour of some of the wackier theories that have added colour and weirdness to our understanding of our fantastic universe.

Rocket Factory

British Airways i360, Lower Kings Road, Brighton

Friday October 25-26, 11am, 1pm and 3pm

Tickets £6. Age 11+ or 6+ with adult

Ever wanted to build and fly your own rocket? This is an opportunity to design, build and test fly one for yourself!. Work on your own or as a family to build the best rocket, and then fly them on the beach. Starting with some basic science, this workshop shows you how to design an aerodynamic rocket that will really fly. Everyone gets to build and fly a rocket that they can take home.

Now That’s What I Call A Lot Of Songs About Science

Komedia Studio, 44-47 Gardner Street, Brighton

Saturday October 27, 4pm

Tickets £8. Age 7+

Singer-songwriter John Hinton presents a compilation of songs from his internationally successful science comedies: the award-winning Scientrilogy, in which he plays Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Marie Curie, and Ensonglopedia shows, which have taken alphabetical science songwriting to new heights. He has also written songs for the Natural History Museum, Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Eden Project and the National Railway Museum.

For the full listings, visit