Life, the Universe and Everything Else You Can Think Of at the Edinburgh International Science Festival

  • 2018 marks a very special year; the 30th edition of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, which takes place between 31 March and 15 April. In the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, the Science Festival explores Life,the Universe and everything else you can think of - celebrating the wonder and diversity of life and asks what it means to be 'alive' in the 21st century.
  • New for this year - Scotland’s Year of Young People - is the Youth Consultation Group which is co-creating some of our key activities  including events for Existence: Life and Beyond, an interactive exhibition at National Museum Scotland and Mini Maker Faire, the Festival’s traditional grand finale, this year supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund.


Programme Highlights for 2018

Eco2ville powered by EDF Energy (a low carbon village) is a high-profile outdoor exhibition on Edinburgh’s central Mound precinct inviting audiences to explore a low carbon future and what this means to their lives.

The brand new Existence: Life and Beyond, is an interactive exhibition in National Museum of Scotland’s Grand Gallery featuring three creative commissions including - Jason Hackenwerth, the world-renowned American artist whose massive balloon sculpture in 2013 wowed festival-goers, returns to create the spectacular Event Horizon (unveiled 6 April, till 22 April).

The Festival’s Science in the Spotlight theatre programme includes its new commission Valentina’s Galaxy for 2-5 year olds.

Great Easter holiday days out for families including the flagship City Art Centre, the return of Experimentarium drop-in at Summerhall, and hands-on workshops at the National Museum of Scotland.

The popular Gastrofest series of events is back with, among other things, Bake Off finalist Andrew Smyth who will be exploring baking in space, The One Show resident scientist Marty Jopson who will be exploring the science of food, dairy technologist Paul Thomas and self-confessed curd nerd Patrick McGuigan return with Cheeseology, the fasted selling show in the Festival last year.
Science for the Sociable - Big nights with science at their heart: the popular Science Festival Lates, Massaoke, a mix of karaoke with some science thrown in for good measure and the launch of Synthetica, where the world’s leading Bio-artists Marta de Menezes, Oran Catts and Ionat Zurr exhibit their incredible work in Synthetica at Summerhall.
Busking bikes take science out to communities across the city including Muirhouse and Leith.

The 2018 Edinburgh Medal is awarded to Prof Cordelia Fine, author and Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne, for her work on the understanding of gender stereotypes, challenging gender perceptions and for her contributions to public discourse to close the gender gap.

The sixth Mini Maker Faire - the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth! - and the only Faire of its kind in Scotland – returns to Summerhall showing off human invention and creativity (15 April).

Creative Director Amanda Tyndall said:

"This year’s Festival is a celebration of life, our existence and of the potential that science offers us as individuals as well as for the planet.  As always, we deliver this through an incredible programme of hands-on experiments, thought-provoking discussions, dynamic performances, events and exhibitions; all designed to show how important and central science is to shaping and living our lives and inspiring the problem solvers of tomorrow.

“It’s our thirtieth festival this year and we appreciate the privileged role we have in delivering not only the world’s longest-running science festival but one of the highlights on the city’s annual calendar of events.

“We are delighted that to mark Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 and our newly formed Youth Consultation Group has worked on co-creating content, programming, marketing and designing some events including Existence: Life and Beyond at the National Museum of Scotland and the Edinburgh Mini Maker Faire. It’s been fantastic to work with such as motivated group of young people who have brought new ideas and new approaches to our work and we look forward to seeing the results”.

The Science Festival presents almost 270 events for families and adults over the course of two weeks. The vibrant and varied programme includes everything from fun family days out to new exhibitions, shows and performances, discussions with pioneering thinkers and some very special events.

Family festivalgoers can enjoy five floors of sensational hands-on science at City Art Centre (venue sponsored by Cirrus Logic), world class theatre at Summerhall (venue sponsored by Baillie Gifford) and a host of hands-on activities and more at National Museum of Scotland and other partner venues across Edinburgh.

The exciting adult programme of discussions, workshops, performances, screenings, special events and exhibitions features everything from science themed parties and experimental food events to discussions with leaders in the fields of medicine, space, genetic research, environmental science and data, among others, is set to create unforgettable festival experiences. 

The brand new Existence: Life and Beyond, is an interactive exhibition including three creative commissions at National Museum Scotland exploring the origins and future of life - everything from evolutionary biology and conservation, robotics and artificial intelligence. Beginning with an exploration of life on earth, travelling through the weirdness of life at the extremes and exploring the technological potential of what life could be in the future, Existence: Life and Beyond will take visitors to the outer reaches of life as we know it. The exhibition is developed with support from Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund and supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund, managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

The centrepiece of this exhibition, and one of the creative commissions is Event Horizon, a colossal sculpture descending from above the National Museum of Scotland’s Grand Gallery created by US artist Jason Hackenwerth, whose Pisces wowed audiences in 2013, Dennis and Debbie Club bring AI Awakening to allow audiences to step into the mind of an AI bot. And AN1MAL is an installation by Roy Shearer and Fergus Dunnet in which robotic creatures mimic animal behaviour in response to the actions of the viewer. 

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “In the Year of Young People 2018, Scotland is putting its young people in the spotlight, celebrating their talents, contributions and creating new opportunities for them to shine on a local and global stage.

“We are delighted to be supporting Existence: Life and Beyond at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in celebration of this special themed year.  EISF is fully embracing the year not only through their Youth Consultation Group who are central to the creative development of the 2018 festival, but also through the wonderful variety of innovative, interactive and thought-provoking activity which will offer young minds, as well as the young at heart, a fantastic opportunity to delve into this fascinating world of wonders we live in.”

To browse all Edinburgh International Science Festival events go to

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