A Festival for the current moment

24 September 2020

A Festival for the current moment

From Dane Comerford, the Festival Director


As the UK moves into a second period of quarantine, we present the 29th annual Festival from Oxford that offers a range of science and ideas to everyone. The Festival is a proudly independent charity that has brought together a diverse programme of activities created by an enormous range of people.

This year’s IF Oxford was conceived at a time when we emerged from our homes to cheer those who cared for the vulnerable and kept the country going. This Festival is for them, it is for people who have experienced real anxiety and social isolation for the first time, it is for people who have always felt excluded, and it is for people prepared to try something new and see the world from different perspectives.

There was a moment when we thought IF wouldn’t happen, but we were certain of the abundant creativity around Oxford, and the unbounded curiosity of people across the UK, and the world. 2020 has been a challenging year of unexpected firsts, from family events by video, learning to cook, or developing skills while home alone.

We’re still here! Our digital-led programme doesn’t mean it’s not physical and social too – there are quizzes, shared food and drink-tasting sessions, community dance activities and a city-wide art project making a computer-coded Oxford LED light show (#bethelight). There’s theatre and film, music and storytelling, as live events and on-demand content for you to try for free.

For those who want to get hands-on, we’ve pulled out all the stops and invested in the most ambitious Explorazone – Explorazone Digital – the UK (or possibly even the world) has ever seen, with dozens of virtual activity stations for families, teenagers and adults alike. Hundreds of researchers will guide you through some awesome experiments from 8am on Saturday 17 October, and while most activities can be done with items often found at home, we’ve partnered with Curiosity Box to make sure you’ll have everything you need.

The annual Poetry of Science competition was an enjoyable challenge, whittling down 600 entries into a shortlist of eleven for you to choose your favourite. You can expect our classic mix of quirky and informed talks and discussions too, so get ready to fire up Zoom! We’ve worked with several groups to create self-led activities for you to try across the city, or wherever you are in the world, just please be careful.

Everyone involved in creating IF Oxford contributes because they have something to say, from the food delivery driver merging music with quantum mechanics and the disabled young people creating mesmerising visual art, to researchers developing COVID-19 vaccines or future energy sources. All we ask is that you join us, try something new and make your voice heard. If only we could get together and have a big party? It’s here: #IFOx2020