Manchester Science Festival returns next year to explore our changing climate and ideas for a better world

Manchester Science Festival, a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar and one of the most popular science festivals in the UK, is returning in 2021 with a jam-packed programme.

The festival, produced by the Science and Industry Museum, is now planned to take place from Friday 12 – Sunday 21 February 2021. The first details have been unveiled, revealing a programme that will explore the role of science, technology and communities in finding solutions to our changing climate, one of the world’s most urgent challenges. It will include a wealth of inspiring, entertaining and playful experiences for all ages, kicking off with the opportunity to become the Royal Photographic Society’s next Science Photographer of the Year.

As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester was the catalyst

for scientific innovation and unprecedented change all over the world. Now, with Greater Manchester’s vision of becoming carbon neutral by 2038, the city is uniquely placed to influence future progress across the globe once again.

Visitors will witness some of science’s most cutting-edge developments in the fight against climate change. They will be treated to an unmissable line-up, including premieres and immersive arts, fashion, food, theatre and sustainable living experiences, as well as the chance to talk to leading scientists and climate campaigners during a series of special events and debates. Due to take place over February half term, the festival will offer something for everyone, including a host of fun family activities.

All activities will inform, engage and ignite curiosity about our changing climate. Most will take place across the Science and Industry Museum’s city-centre site, where visitors have been safely returning since August.

The Science and Industry Museum is collaborating with a wealth of contributors to deliver the exciting programme, more details of which will be announced later this autumn. The first key

partner to be unveiled is The Royal Photographic Society (RPS), whose mission of ‘promoting the art and science of photography’ has formed the basis of its work since 1853.

In support of the festival, The RPS has, for the first time, introduced a ‘climate change’ subcategory to its prestigious Science Photographer of the Year competition. The inclusive competition encourages photographers of all ages and abilities from across the world to capture images that show science in action, depict its impact on our everyday lives and illustrate how photography helps to record scientific events. The additional category of climate change will also welcome submissions that tell the global story of climate change, showcase how science, technology and engineering are addressing this urgent issue and reveal its effects on our natural world.

The shortlisted photographs will be used to create an exhibition for Manchester Science Festival, bringing together science, climate and art in a stunning showcase of images. After its first showing at the museum, which will continue beyond the festival’s closing date, it will tour the UK and internationally.

The competition is now open for entries until 4 December 2020. Anyone aged 17 and under can enter the Young Science Photographer of the Year category, and those aged 18 and over into Science Photographer of the Year. More information can be found on the RPS website:

Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum, said: “Our museum is home to ideas that change the world and continues to reflect and inspire innovators of the future through our exhibitions, activities and events. Manchester Science Festival is a major part of this, supporting citizens, scientists and activists to come together to explore and advance ideas for a better world.

“As we all continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, Manchester Science Festival may look and feel a little different this year, but we are working closely with partners across the city and the UK to create a compelling public programme that will deliver memorable experiences to visitors, whatever their interests. We are delighted to be working with The Royal Photographic Society to co-curate and display an exhibition created from the prestigious Science Photographer of the Year competition. It will provide an original and authentic snapshot of the immense effect both science and climate have on our world.”

Dr Michael Pritchard, Director, Education and Public Affairs at the RPS, said: “Whether you are studying science or climate change at school, or working at the cutting edge of science or environmental research, this competition provides an opportunity to draw attention to your work and see it exhibited at one of the UK’s leading science museums. With science and the impact of climate change so much a part of our modern world, we encourage students and researchers to share their images in this year’s competition.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We are proud of our long tradition of scientific innovation in this city and Manchester Science Festival is one of the boldest, most creative and thought-provoking festivals in the country. What better way to explore the theme of climate than bring together artists, scientists, citizens, businesses and visitors to the city to play, talk and make the future together.”

Jonny Sadler, Programme Director at Manchester Climate Change Agency, said: “Manchester has set its targets in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the latest science. Our priority now is getting on track to meet them, including reducing our CO2 emissions by 50% over the next five years, on the way to becoming one of the world’s first zero carbon cities.

“This year’s Festival will showcase the many practical actions visitors can take right now, adding to the growing number of people already working hard to make Manchester a leading city for urgent climate action.”

The Science and Industry Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, the world’s leading group of science museums. At the start of the year, the Group announced a major public programme focused on climate. Manchester Science Festival will be a cornerstone of this, showcasing some of science’s most cutting-edge developments in the fight against climate change, introducing new technologies and connecting visitors to leading voices who are helping to shape our future. The Science Museum in London will also host the UK’s first significant exhibition exploring carbon capture technologies, opening on 31 March 2021 to coincide with COP26, the 26th United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow in November 2021.

The last festival was held in 2018. It was originally due to take place again in October this year, but the decision was made to reschedule for February 2021. It will be the first in a series of major events

and exhibitions planned to take place at the Science and Industry Museum next year, further details of which will be announced later this autumn.

Sign up to the museum’s mailing list to be the first to receive more details about the festival programme as they are announced, or visit