Cheltenham Science Festival 2023 announces its incredible line-up

Ever wanted to see an astronaut in Gloucestershire? Now's your chance, as Cheltenham Science Festival announces its star-studded line-up, with a whopping 138 events taking place this June 2023.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
Don't miss the chance to see 270 of science's brightest minds at this year's Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2023.

This year's Cheltenham Science Festival is bringing 270 of the brightest minds to town this June 2023, with a star-studded line-up featuring authors, activists and even an astronaut! 

Taking over Imperial Gardens from Tuesday 6 to Sunday 11 June 2023, the family-friendly festival boasts 138 events covering a wide range of topics including gender, faith, mental health, politics, neuroscience, psychology, space and even sport, with three interactive zones offering opportunities to get hands-on with science at the Festival Village. Its 'Be The Change' theme is back for the third time in 2023, too. 

BBC Radio 4 presenter and author Claudia Hammond; doctor and TV presenter Chris van Tulleken; writer, podcaster and documentary maker Hana Walker-Brown; and mental health campaigner Sophia Kaur Badhan join AIDA as guest curators for 2023, with each hosting a variety of events across the five-day festival. 

Two of the biggest names in attendance are ESA astronaut Tim Peake, who is chatting about his first non-fiction book for children; and TV presenter and woodsman, Ray Mears. 

More highlights include scientist Frank Close peering into the past at the life of theoretical physicist and one of the people behind the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, Peter Higgs; Richard Ellis, Hannah Wakeford and Andrew Pontzten sharing incredible images from the James Webb Telescope; GCHQ's first female director of research and engineering talking about how to bring underrepresented voices into the world of tech; and delibrating the life of Cheltenham Science Festival 2022 guest curator and BowelBabe, Deborah James, journalist Bryony Gordon is joined by Cancer Research UK's director of research funding communications and partnerships, Catherine Elliot, to discuss James's incredible legacy.

Greek mythologist and Sunday Times bestselling author, Jennifer Saint, joins mathematician Katie Steckles to talk maths and myths; author Kathryn Harkup discusses the poisons of Agatha Christie; comedian Robin Ince talks about his new book Bibliomaniac; founder of The Vagina Museum, Florence Schechter, discusses the importance of talking about genitals; sports presenter Max Whittle chairs a talk by Ian Graham and Duncan Alexander discussing data in football; zoologist Jules Howard and TV personality Verity Hardcastle share an insight into the minds of our pets; while professor Jim Al-Khalili discusses how time shapes science fiction with author of The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes, and Academy Award-winning visual effects expert Paul Franklin. 

Egyptologist Campbell Price, biomedical Egyptologist Sofia Aziz and archaeologist Raksha Dave discuss how new technology can tell us more about Tutankhamun; biologist Merlin Sheldrake takes audiences on a mind-bending journey into the world of fungi; climate justice activist Daze Aghaji talks to writer and environmental campaigner George Monbiot, the University of York's professor of food, climate and society Sarah Bridle and food poverty activist Tasha Mhakayakora about how to change food and agriculture with worsening climate change; while Lorna Rees discusses cloud formations and their impact on climate change at an intimate outdoor installation.

The 2023 Young Changemakers, Charlie Fogarty, Claudia MacGregor, Cerys Bradley and Alfie Bowen tell their stories at the free We Make Tomorrow event on the Apollo Stage; and the world's largest public-facing science communication competition, FameLab UK and FameLab International, are back for 2023, with researchers and scientists from across the globe getting just three minutes to share their work to be in with a chance of being crowned Best Science Communicator. 

There are plenty of free activities to enjoy at the Festival Village, including The Arcade with creative and cryptic cyber and tech challenges to try and solve; plus adults can join in on the fun with an over 18s late night at the Festival Village full of free activities like learning how to code a robot; playing an array of arcade games; trying their hand at Bajingo Bingo; and learning about the biggest issues today at the VOICEBOX pop-up. 

Head of programming at Cheltenham Science Festival, Marieke Navin, said: 'For six days in June, Cheltenham will be home to an incredible mix of people, who will be having conversations about the biggest issues of our times. 

'We use a variety of art forms, from spoken word, to comedy, to debate, to paddle boarding, all to bring science to life in the most creative ways possible.'

Tickets for Cheltenham Science Festival go on general sale on Wednesday 25 April 2023. 

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