It’s not the only major festival tackling the global emergency…

Having started as a small grassroots event, Manchester Science Festival (MSF) is now the biggest of its kind in England. Curated by the Museum of Science and Industry, the calendar staple has seen everything from giant spider webs to robot cook-offs over the last 14 years; celebrating both Manchester’s iconic science heritage and the latest developments worldwide.

Following a hiatus last year, MSF is back for 2020 with a theme of climate change - the defining issue of the modern age. Returning from 23rd October to 1st November, the festival will explore how we should respond to the challenges of global warming through three lenses: our cities, our natural world and ourselves.

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Visitors enjoying an installation at MSF 2018

As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester was the catalyst for scientific innovation and unprecedented change worldwide. Now, with Greater Manchester’s vision of becoming carbon-neutral by 2038, the city is primed to influence future progress (once it gets its act together anyway).

Manchester Science Museum is part of the Science Museum Group - spanning five museums across London and the North - which has announced a major climate programme in support of the 2020 Year of Climate Action. This was launched by the Prime Minister at the Science Museum earlier this month, with guests including David Attenborough and the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte.  

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Sir David Attenborough, Sir Ian Blatchford, and Woodland Trust CEO Darren Moorcroft plant trees with pupils to mark the Science Museum Group’s climate-focused programme Science Museum Group

MSF will be a cornerstone of the group’s programme: informing and igniting curiosity with everything from art commissions to immersive experiences, outdoor events to live debates. 2020’s event, which also marks the first of a new biennial format, will open ahead of November’s COP26 - the 26th United Nations Convention on Climate Change. This will see world leaders and 30,000 delegates descend on Glasgow to develop an international response to the climate emergency.   

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We are proud of our long tradition of scientific innovation in this city and Manchester Science Festival is one of the boldest, most creative and thought-provoking festivals in the country. What better way to explore the theme of climate than bring together artists, scientists, citizens, businesses and visitors to the city to play, talk and make the future together.”

For more information about the festival, visit the website.

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MSF has plenty for adults and families alike

MSF isn’t the only major Manchester festival highlighting climate change this year. Manchester Day, which returns on Sunday 21st June, will be themed on ‘Our Planet. Our City’ - kickstarting a programme of car-free activities throughout the summer until World Car Free Day in September.

A celebration of inclusivity, collaboration and a proud testament to multicultural Manchester, the free event attracts tens of thousands of spectators from across the world with its citywide happenings and spectacular parade - which last year included everything from giant monkeys to steampunk and over 40 community groups.  

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Manchester Day will celebrate its eleventh event this year

Manchester Day is again looking for community groups, volunteers and organisations to take part in this year’s event. Over 2000 local people collaborate on the parades annually with acclaimed arts company Walk the Plank, which has won awards for its sustainable approach: floats are made from recycled or sustainable materials and avoid the use of petrol power.

Liz Pugh, co-founder and executive creative director of Walk the Plank, said: “With its people-powered, cycled, re-cycled and up-cycled approach, Manchester Day has always had sustainability at its heart from the very start. But this year’s theme gives everyone taking part the chance to create an even more powerful response to the issue of climate change.  

“We’re excited to see how artists and community groups, in collaboration with Dan (this year’s creative director, whose credits include the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Sydney and the 2010 World Cup Finals) help the people of Manchester make a bold and imaginative statement about climate change as they parade through the city’s streets.”

Find out more about Manchester Day and how to get involved on the website

Read more: Manchester's essential festival calendar: January to April 2020