It was worth the two year wait to welcome back Cheltenham Science Festival to its full glory in Imperial Gardens for a voyage of discovery, from the latest findings in quantum physics, cancer research, conservation, cybersecurity and many more to music, poetry, gaming and street theatre. Eminent scientists like Astronomer Royal Martin Rees rubbed shoulders with the Festival’s diverse group of Young Changemakers to envision what a new world could look like.

Cheltenham Science Festival

Brand new drop-in zone The Arcade drew in 24,000 visitors with its cool graphics and retro arcade games as it posed a series of creative and cryptic challenges to show how new technologies will shape our culture in the future. Meanwhile the Festival’s first ever poet-in-residence Polly Denny collaborated with AI Curator AIDA to create a sustainable fashion Snapchat filter, all inspired by their work together, turning poetry into visual T-shirt designs. 

Ali Mawle, co-CEO of Cheltenham Festivals said: “Our 20th birthday is a great time to look back and see just how far science communication has come. Back in 2002 we made a conscious decision to take science out of the lecture theatre and create a celebration of the wonders of the world around us. Science is part of our culture and it’s a creative force.”

Cheltenham Science Festival 2022

2022 Cheltenham Science Festival Facts

  • Over 11,300 tickets issued.
  • An estimated 49,000 people enjoyed free interactive zones in Imperial Gardens and street theatre performance in Cheltenham High Street in association with Cheltenham BID
  • 6,300+ school children and their teachers from 82 schools attended the Festival site after a wait of two years and two online Science for Schools programmes.
  • The Festival distributed around 200 free tickets via our local social prescribing team and Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees thanks to funding from Cheltenham Festivals Patrons and the Summerfield Charitable Trust.

What we learned – seven news stories from Cheltenham Science Festival 2022

  • An electronic device to lower blood pressure which clips over the ear was seen for the first time at the Festival. The non-invasive gadget has the potential to be twice as effective as drug treatments.
  • Drugs that replicate the effect of falling in love could be available within five years, according to anthropologist Dr Anna Machin.
  • A revolutionary new ventilator was demonstrated in the Discover Zone. The 3CPAP was specifically designed using technology used by divers applied to traditional oxygen masks. It can dramatically reduce high flow oxygen use, and protect from potential shortages, fire risks and supply pressure drops.
  • Don’t eat breakfast until 11am if you want to lose weight, Tim Spector told the Festival audience.
  • A Neanderthal gene present in 1 in 6 of us may have led to 1,000,000 Covid deaths said genomics professor James Davies.
  • Deaths in Shakespeare plays are a comedy of errors, said author and chemist Dr Kathryn Harkup after a comprehensive review of the Bard’s works.
  • Cats are one of the main reasons bats end up in wildlife rescue centres and a night cat curfew can really make a big difference, Beth Gerrard of the University of the West of England told the Festival.

For more unmissable festivals and events in Cheltenham check out our helpful guides - Cheltenham Festivals Guide, Cheltenham What's On Guide, Summer in Cheltenham Guide


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