Did you know about the Festival of Tomorrow held here in our very own Swindon?
Now in its third year, the festival is driven by a mission to inspire, inform and entertain communities across Swindon and the UK.
The festival is in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)and has major partners such as Business West, Gel Studios, New Elements, and the UK Space Agency. Intel are also the Future Realities sponsors – so there are many openings to ask questions and find out more information about future opportunities for you.
With interactive workshops also featured, the festival provides the most modern experience for people to learn about the great world of science and technology, whilst learning from and listening to real passionate experts in their fields.
Founder of this event, Rob Hebden shares his outlook and opinion on this fantastic experience.
Rob recently has won an award at The Techies 2022 for 'Outstanding Contribution to Swindon and Wiltshire Technology' for the Festival of Tomorrow.
What is your role with the festival and why did you decide to set it up/be involved?
I set up the festival because giving people the opportunity to share in the knowledge and research that will shape our future. This is critical if we’re going to take an active role in creating the future we all want live in. We will need many more scientists and engineers to tackle and solve the challenges we all face as a country, and as a global community.
How would you describe the festival?
The Festival of Tomorrow is a dynamic celebration of the wonders of science, research and technology, held in Swindon, the hub of UK research and innovation. By sharing the latest knowledge and innovation, we provide opportunities for everyone to grow our understanding of how science works, and how it can shape our choices in a changing world.
We do this through cutting edge exhibitions, hands-on science, talks, shows and workshops and content that our visitors of all ages and backgrounds find surprising, entertaining, inspiring and accessible. We are driven by a mission to inspire, inform and entertain communities across Swindon and Wiltshire.
What has been the best bit about the festival so far?
The most exciting thing for me is to see how enthusiastically it has been received by visitors, and the incredible diversity of people that have engaged and embraced the festival.
What are your plans for the festival in the future?
We deliberately chose to start small, but quality, and we were amazed by how quickly the event grew. The pandemic restrictions forced us to innovate, adding an online school’s programme that had over 10,000 bookings in the first year, and a hybrid public event, including face to face and online visitors and speakers, including one global warming scientist joining us live from on deck of a research ship off the coast of Africa! This year, we also piloted free events in the town centre and in several libraries in target areas of Swindon. In future, we will become increasingly a multi-site, multi-channel event, with events, activities, shows, and debates made especially for different audiences through different formats. And, every year, we’re handing more and more control of different parts of the festival to different people to make sure that a real diversity of voices is heard, and we increasingly remove the separation between the research and the public.
Why do you think people should visit the festival?
I don’t really want the festival to just be something that people visit, have a fun day, and then leave. Although, clearly, we do want and love to see people having a fantastic time. What we want is for people, more and more, to take ownership of the festival for themselves. After all, the festival is about their future, and about the debates and the choices we make about what future we want to create for ourselves and for our children.
What are your thoughts on Swindon being the host for the festival?
As the home of UK Research and Innovation, Swindon is the hub of science and research in the UK. We’re also home to the UK Space Agency, and we have the UK Atomic Energy Agency close by. There really isn’t a greater concentration of influence and government support for knowledge and innovation anywhere in the country. That’s a privilege and an opportunity that I’d love to see Swindon embrace.
Think this festival is something you fancy? You can find out more about the festival on its website here and ensure that you get to experience this great spectacle in the town of Swindon.