Tickets go live for Swindon’s Festival of Tomorrow

By Barrie Hudson - 17 January 2024


Swindon’s Festival of Tomorrow returns with its biggest ever programme of activities and events next month.

The organisers promise lots of free experiences to keep families and adults entertained during the half-term break.  

They are urging families to register early at to secure their free spots for the Festival Finale event at the Deanery CE Academy on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 February, after last year’s event reached maximum capacity with many shows quickly selling out.  

The popular event features four free interactive discovery zones packed with amazing demos, intriguing exhibits, hands-on activities, challenges and free workshops.

Festival-goers of all ages will be able to explore the universe with a planetarium show, race a hydrogen fuel-cell car, programme a robot vehicle, delve into the science of health, make some space-inspired art or try out Intel’s latest e-sports gaming gear. 

If that’s not enough excitement, this year’s programme of inspiring talks, panel discussions and explosive family shows are sure to get visitors fired up. 

Tickets for under 18s are free for all finale talks and shows (under 16s must be accompanied by an adult ticketholder).

Some of this year’s highlights include:

- Exploding Custard. An inspirational show presented by award-winning science communicator Ian Russell.  Totally fascinating for all ages, it is a spectacular, lively, and light-hearted sharing of more experiments than you’ll be able to remember, using everyday materials and familiar household objects. Do try these at home!

- The Royal Institution Presents: Energy Live! What is energy? Where does it come from? And where does it go? Join the highly acclaimed Royal Institution for an exciting, and demo packed, journey through the stores of energy we use every day. This explosive family show jam packed with fire-based demonstrations will leave you feeling fully charged!

Amazing Animals. Festival favourites Braintastic! Science return with their brand-new interactive experience which showcases the super-smart abilities of the world’s most incredible animals. Featuring puzzles and tests for the whole audience to join in and challenge your own intelligence against amazing animals.

- Dr Ken’s Circus Science Show. Roll up, roll up. It's time for some entertaining circus science experiments.  Juggling Scientist Dr Ken explores the scientific principles behind skilful circus tricks and dangerous stunts. Hold onto your seats as he eats fire, cracks whips and juggles 5 beanbags - all in the name of science.

- Drones for good in Ukraine. Join Mark Horton, television presenter and Professor of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage at the Royal Agricultural University, and a panel of scientists to discover how teams in the UK and the Sumi University in Ukraine are using drones to help grow food for Ukraine and the rest of Europe in the midst of the ongoing war.

- The art of science. Festival Director Dr Rod Hebden is joined by Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser - CEO, UK Research and Innovation, Phil Gibby - Regional Director, Arts Council England and Roger Highfield - Science Director, Science Museum Group to explore why we continue to create a divide between science and the arts, ask whether it really matters and, if so, what can we do to bring them together to benefit everyone.

- Here come the robots. Join BBC Radio science journalist, Roland Pease, and a panel of leading experts from the world-famous Bristol Robotics Lab, part of the University of Bristol, to hear the latest research and applications of robotic swarms, and have your say on the ethics of robotics and AI!

- Big health, tiny science! Scientists at the new Rosalind Franklin Institute near Oxford aim to understand our health at the scale of the molecules we are made of – they like call it atomic pathology. Learn about the powerful microscopes that allow them to see deep into our cells and examine the protein machines that keep us alive, and discover how these techniques may transform medicine in the future.

The festival programme also includes an exciting range of interactive events, activities and experiences across Swindon from 9 to 18 February. 

One highlight is sure to be the chance to meet Luma – a 9m long giant inflatable robotic snail who loves an audience. 

Luma will be in residence at Steam – Museum of the Great Western Railway from Monday 12 to Sunday 18 February, as part of a programme of free, drop-in activities throughout the half-term week. 

From hands-on activities such as making snail slime and robot snail racers, to animal encounters, multi-sensory experiments, and action-packed mini shows full of fizzes, bubbles and mayhem; families can enjoy different experiences for free each day.

Shoppers at the Designer Outlet are invited to take a look at the Mechanical Bloom lab as Neon Dance presents this nature-themed robotic installation in collaboration with Bristol Robotics Lab from Sunday 11 to Thursday 12 February.

Look out for a team of guerrilla street theatre scientists who will be enlisting help in their experiments, or see if you can spot all 12 different Augmented Reality, space-themed models hidden around the centre.

For the first time, the programme includes evening entertainment for teens and adults, including a comedy night with local comic Sam Michael and Robin Ince, star of BBC Radio 4’s Infinite Monkey Cage; a special Sofa Screening of the acclaimed engrossing, intelligent sci-fi thriller, Moon and Neon Dance will present their stunning live contemporary dance performance Last and First Men, set to the rich visuals of the late Jóhann Jóhannsson’s science fiction film.

Tickets and the full programme are available at

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