Cheltenham Science Festival is delighted to announce its thrilling 2024 programme, which features prominent names from the world of science participating in vibrant discussions in the cultural hub of Cheltenham.

As ever, the Festival will be spotlighting, introducing and developing emerging talent and diverse voices from the scientific world, exploring the crucial relevance of science. This year’s programme shines a light on the role science plays in understanding our everyday lives, from eating to ageing, and deception to elections.

A collage of images from previous Science Festivals.

Taking place from Tuesday 4 – Sunday 9 June, the Festival will cover a range of fascinating topics across over 100 events. Festival-goers will be given the chance to explore some of the biggest issues in our world in more depth, with topics covered including the power of science to predict the upcoming elections, how desire works, and the question of whether humanity is truly alone in the universe. Speakers come from the worlds of art and design, social sciences, psychology and neuroscience, chemistry, engineering, entertainment, the environment, history, current affairs, food and space.

The annual Festival will once again be embracing the inspiring theme of ‘Be the Change’, highlighting how considering one’s role in shaping the future can create lasting change.

Cheltenham Science Festival will be working with three esteemed Guest Curators: Sophia Smith Galer, a science-focused journalist who Forbes magazine named as one of their Thirty Under Thirty, and Thomas Hertog, a Belgian cosmologist, author and previous key collaborator with Stephen Hawking. They will be crafting a programme that addresses the impact of science on our daily lives, as well as presenting insights that illuminate the intersection of science, innovation, and societal transformation. Returning this year is AIDA, the world’s first AI Science Festival curator, who will be contributing unique ideas to the Festival’s programme once more.

Additionally, the Festival will again work with a group of Young Changemakers: activist and Lived Experience consultant Charli Clement, food campaigner Tasha Mhakayakora, Dark Sky Officer for Snowdonia National Park Dani Roberson and Data engineer and STEM Ambassador Tosin Sonubi, whose fresh and distinctive perspectives will ensure that vital conversations take place. The Festival will also see the return of former changemakers: climate justice activist Daze Aghaji, international affairs young adviser Samuel Ajakaiye, Soil Snack founder Claudia MacGregor and ecologist and writer Jasmine Qureshi.

Booking for Cheltenham Science Festival opens to Cheltenham Festivals Members on Wednesday 17 April and general booking opens on Wednesday 24 April. This year’s full programme can be viewed at Cheltenham Festivals website

Dr Marieke Navin, Head of Programming at Cheltenham Science Festival comments:

“Cheltenham Science Festival is an unmissable event in the science community’s calendar and this year’s programme explores everything from the everyday to the out of this world, inspiring tangible action. The Festival will be welcoming voices from across the sciences and humanities, alongside fascinating insights into how we can understand our changing world, highlighting both the wonder of the everyday and inspiring the next generation of thinkers and dreamers.”

A collage of images from previous Science Festivals.


Science Exploring the Everyday

The connection between food and the brain will be explored through ‘Gut Feelings,’ where psychologist Kimberley Wilson and nutritionist Emily Leeming explore the role of food and nutrients in brain development and mental health. Together they consider what ultra-processed diets are doing to our brains and share top tips for eating that help our emotional and physical wellbeing. Sharing delicious recipes and tips from the kitchen, chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall reveals the incredible health benefits that can come from adding 30 more vegetables to one’s diet each week. Aerospace engineer and judge of Netflix’s Baking ImpossibleAndrew Smyth also explores the connections between everyday bakes and the extraordinary engineering that helps keep astronauts alive. Great British Bake Off finalist Josh Smalley will cook up a storm with engineer Tosin Sonubi, material scientist Mark Miodownik and chemist Andrea Sella. Through live cooking demonstrations, they will show Festivalgoers how to turn their kitchen into a laboratory.

History and Politics

In 2024 more than ever, politics is playing a huge role in our everyday lives. Comedian Dara Ó Briain, Professor of Political Science and elections analyst Jane Green, mathematician Kit Yates and political scientist John Curtice ask if science can predict the US and UK’s election and what data can tell us about democracy, especially as 2024 is the biggest election year to date. Focusing on the protagonist that dominated the cultural scene last year, writer Ben Platts-Mills and particle physics professor David Wark uncover Oppenheimer’s enigmatic legacy and the many scientists who worked at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. Thomas Hertog recalls his work with Stephen Hawking to develop a new theory of the Big Bang that could account for the emergence of life in the universe. The Times’ Science Editor Tom Whipple also shares the gripping story behind the radar technology that helped the allies win World War II.

The Science of Deception

What role does science play in deception? The Traitors star Andrew Jenkins, game theorist and mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy and kidnap negotiator Scott Walker delve into how science plays a role in deceit with psychologist Catherine Loveday. In a race between two teams, fantastical fibs and titillating truths await as two teams convince each other to believe their crazy science stories. Team captains – geneticist Adam Rutherford and science presenter Neil Monteiro – lead the charge, with comedians Robin Ince and Shirley Halse, sound-rageist Jane Gregory and data-wrangler Rachel Williams. BBC Presenter Maddie Moate chairs a conversation uncovering how spies, the true masters of deceit, keep our country safe online and in the real world and forensic ecologist Patricia Wiltshire shares fascinating stories where nature and crime intertwine, thus interrogating crucial world questions.

Space and the Universe

Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw explore the concept of black holes and take a scientific journey to the research frontier spanning a century of physics, from Einstein to Hawking and beyond. Dara Ó Briain, astronaut Meganne Christian and anthrologist  Kate Robson Brown share new ambitions to visit the moon, while Ó Briain also engages in conversation with UCL cosmology professor Andrew Pontzen and space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock as they tour our solar system and beyond to explore one of the greatest questions ever asked: are we alone? 

Genes and Genetics

Professor Turi King helps people find answers to hugely relevant life-changing questions about their ancestry and shares the latest advances in genetic genealogy. Dharmisha Stezaly, whose son was treated with cutting-edge gene therapy in 2021, paediatric immunologist Bobby Gaspar, and gene therapy researcher Rajvinder Karda explore what lies ahead when it comes to transforming patient care, while genetics professor Jonathan Pettitt unlocks the mysteries of our genetic codes in Genetics Society's, ‘Genetics Bingo.’

Gender and Ageing

Claudia Hammond, psychologist Gillian Sandstrom and author Mary Ann Sieghart discuss how to challenge the status quo in a ‘man’s world’ in everyday contexts, while award-winning theatre maker Andrew Scott argues for a radical rethink of how society handles the second half of life and Nobel Prize-winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan explores the science of why and how we age and die through investigating everyday issues that affect us all.

A collage of images from previous Science Festivals.


Improving our mental and physical wellbeing takes a front seat at the Festival. Doctor and cancer survivor Anisha Patel, psychologist Linda Blair and inclusion and wellbeing consultant Benjy Kusi explore the impact of toxic positivity as they share top tips for developing a healthy relationship with our emotions and supporting others effectively in everyday life. Evolutionary biologist Jonathon Silverton and social scientist David Robson also share their fascinating research into connection and cooperation, emphasising the power of sticking together in a world that is becoming increasingly violent and brutal. Toby Peach and Lucy Wray present an interactive show exploring being Fertile on an increasingly infertile planet, raising important questions about everyday issues women experience.

Saving our Planet

'Is Humanity in Danger’ interrogates the climate catastrophe and the threat of AI and global instability that currently dominate our headlines and everyday lives, as narrotologist Genevieve Liveley and writer and historian Subhadra Das consider how we protect the future for people and planet. Oceanographer Helen Czerski, magazine journalist Oliver Franklin-Wallis and senior research leader at Kew, Irina Druzhinina, unpack how science and technology is evolving to make better use of our waste in ‘A Load of Rubbish’while Historian Peter Frankopan will speak to non-executive Director at Chatham House Samuel Ajakaiye, giving a monumental account of how the natural world has shaped human history, and shedding new light on today's climate crisis and the epochal shifts of the past. 

Family Programme

Palaeontologist Steve Brusatte and author Anne Brusatte take visitors on a fascinating adventure to hear about the latest dino discoveries and explore what dinosaurs really looked like in hands-on workshop, ‘Dugie the Dinosaur’. Moving to animals to the modern age, illustrator Ben Newman dives into the world of bees in his new book, STEMville: The Bee Connection. Join Ben to learn more about animals and insects, how to draw bees and how to become an illustrator.

Visitors can also put TikTok to the test with award-winning science communicator Jamie Gallagher and discover the amazing science phenomena behind the latest social media sensation. Packed full of demos, Gallagher’s talk will reveal everything audiences need to know to create their own viral science TikTok.  

Free Interactive Zones for All Ages

The Festival will not only be inviting visitors to over 100 ticketed events, but also to explore three Interactive Zones that are free to enter. Be sure to experience The Arcade, the home of creatively cryptic challenges, MakerShack, a place to celebrate expert makers and crafting alongside the collaboration of art and STEM whilst getting involved with free crafting activities, and the Discover Zone, which allows visitors to immerse themselves in a world of fun and interactive science, as well as cutting-edge research. Festival-goers are also invited to experience late night entertainment events and off-site walks, including a Variety Night hosted by comedian Shirley Halse, featuring a wonderfully chaotic night of science-related fun.

Science for Schools

Nearly 8,000 pupils from across 85 Gloucestershire schools will head to the Festival Village as part of the Festival’s Science for Schools programme, offering a diverse range of events, from exploring the animal kingdom with Jules Howard to investigating the science behind fairytales with Catherine Cawthorne.

For more unmissable festivals in Cheltenham check out - Cheltenham Festivals & Major Events Guide


Cheltenham Science Festival
Cheltenham Science Festival

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Crowds at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2024.

Cheltenham, The Festival Town, is home to one of the country’s best-loved jazz festivals, attracting over 20,000 music fans annually. The popular annual event will next take place 30 April - 5 May 2025.



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