In March and April 2016, Edinburgh International Science Festival‘s 28th programme – Building Better Worldswill centre on how science, technology, engineering and design have the potential to improve the world we live in and the way we live within it.

This year’s festival will give adults, children and families alike the opportunity to engage with science with 272 fun events, workshops and talks, featuring world-leading scientists, artists, authors and innovators.

Events will run from 26 March – 10 April in venues across Edinburgh, including Summerhall, City Art Centre, the National Museum of Scotland, Our Dynamic Earth and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

The 2016 festival programme focuses on seven key themes:

Being Human – Improving our lives through better health, well-being and understanding of the human condition.

Our Built Environment – Exploring how science is impacting on our homes and cities, helping us to live well in an increasingly urbanised world.

Science and Culture – Shows science’s role in culture through people, policies and politics.

A Planetary Perspective – Planet Earth faces some big challenges and science has a role to play in combating many of these and helping to ensure environmental sustainability.

Beyond Planet Earth – Exploration of non-Earthbound challenges and opportunities.

GastroFest – A mini festival of food, drink… and science!

The Reading Experiment – Uniting the worlds of science and words and bringing together the very best writers, including Andy Robinson, creator of blockbuster virtual reality game EVE:Valkyrie.

There are 73 free events across all venues as part of the programme, including:

Pop-Up Science: Enigma Machine, where everyone has the chance to encrypt a message on a replica model of the Enigma machine (1-2 April) at the National Museum of Scotland.

Discovering what animals do to survive at The Science of Survival at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (6 & 9 April).

Find out how to fake blood, guts and gore at SFX Blood and Gore Make-Up at the Scottish Parliament (every Saturday of the Festival).

Family event highlights

Overall the children and family programme has 139 events taking place around Edinburgh, including:

Space Day: 2 April, with its digital planetarium and the opportunity to create a nebula, and Dino Day 26 March, where little ones can discover dino fossils and take part in exciting dino egg hunts and excavations.

Edinburgh Mini Maker Faire is the popular day out for technology enthusiasts and families. Over 50 makers will present their inventions on 10 April at Summerhall, including Lee Towersey, the co-creator of R2D2 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Tiny Homes Village, a large scale outdoor installation celebrates Scotland’s 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. Situated at the Mound Precinct throughout the festival, ten tiny housing structures examine our changing style of homes and how small buildings may provide comfortable and realistic solutions to urban, eco and emergency shelter demands.

Respected model artist Warren Elsmore will create the vision of a Mars habitat from LEGOⓇ bricks at the National Museum of Scotland.

City Art Centre will be transformed into a family hub, featuring five floors of experimental fun and exciting science workshops and drop-in sessions for 3-12 year olds. A child’s day pass includes three workshops and all drop-in activities. Budding coders can explore their developing talents in Bricks and Blocks, or future medics can try their hand at brain surgery using real endoscopes at the ER Surgery workshop.

Drawn to the Light27 March brings together the world of science and art with Dr Kathryn Harkup helping participants to paint, sketch and doodle with light.

Adult event highlights include:

28 March – Professor Richard Wiseman will dazzle audiences with Experimental, his live psychology show based on experiments.

29 MarchLord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal and one of the world’s leading astrophysicists, will discuss how we can survive the century and explore the risks that threaten our existence in Survival of the Century with Martin Rees.

30 March – With Dolly the Sheep’s 20th birthday fast approaching, Professor Sir Ian Wilmut discusses his life with the world’s most famous sheep in Dolly and Me, and how the cutting edge research is still influencing science developments today.

31 March – Astronaut Jean-François Clervoy, who has clocked up over 675 hours of spaceflight, will share his experiences and give insight into Tim Peake’s present workspace in Updates from Space.

1 AprilBig Bang Bash at the National Museum Scotland will feature David Bowie’s music, short talks by Mars One finalist Ryan MacDonald and astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell, as well as a ‘make an astrolabe’ activity.

4 April GastroFest will feature a menu of producers, artisans, scientists and chefs. Highlights include Prof Paul Hadley investigating the past, present and future of chocolate with his interactive event, Chocolate: Food of the Gods, explaining how chocolate may become extinct.

9 April – Delivered by one of the world’s leading climate scientists, Chris Rapley, 2071: The World We’ll Leave Our Grandchildren is a one-man play about our changing climate.


For more details and to book tickets visit

Image: Toby Williams