Edinburgh International Science Festival finds room to grow at Summerhall

Edinburgh International Science Festival finds room to grow at Summerhall

The former veterinary school is now home to a wide range of family-friendly science events

For decades it was the home of scientific enquiry and medical research – so what better venue for Edinburgh International Science Festival to move into, than the former veterinary hospital-turned arts complex, Summerhall? One of a number of venues across the capital playing host to the festival’s extensive family programme, Summerhall has been brought in to ease capacity problems at the City Art Centre, but also to address the needs of children and young people ready to take their scientific fun up a notch.

‘We wanted to find a suitable “hub” that would enable us to really place science at its heart,’ says events developer, Ali Floyd. ‘Not only does Summerhall fit the bill in terms of the variety of quirky spaces it contains, but it also has a fascinating scientific history.’ Those quirky spaces will be put to good use, with a programme of over 30 workshops and performances exploring topics such as temperature, the human body, food, vampires, genetics, dinosaurs, computing, animation and video games. More than ever, there are a wide range of events targeted at older children and teenagers. ‘One of the key aims for our new venue was to provide exciting new content for kids as they grow into their tween-teenage years,’ says the festival’s deputy director, Amanda Tyndall. 'The Science Festival can continue to be a fun part of their lives, and not just something they did when they were “kids”.’

Specialists in a wide range of fields have been recruited to bring their subject matter alive for young minds. Crucially, there is more than one way to learn – you can sit back and watch or get stuck in. ‘There’s so much evidence that communicating in different ways multiplies what people gain from the experience,’ explains Tyndall. ‘That's why we’ve gone for a mix of hands-on practical activities and shows. We’re also aided by the spaces at Summerhall; the Dissection Room is great for performances, while the Histology Lab is crying out for workshopping. That’s one of the cool things about the venue: it’s really helped us with the programming.’

Various venues, Edinburgh, Sat 5–Sun 20 Apr.

Edinburgh Science Festival

Hands-on science for families in venues across the city with a programme ranging from the entertaining to the controversial and, of course, the icky.