Imperial College London

First ever Great Exhibition Road Festival opens its doors


Andy, a learning volunteer from the Natural History Museum

Andy, a learning volunteer from the Natural History Museum

From talks about the art of science to a multisensory dark matter experience, this year’s Festival was bigger than ever.

Visitors were treated to soaring temperatures as the Festival got underway, with more than 750 researchers, scientists and clinicians attending. The Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019 is a celebration of science and the arts in the spirit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s vision for the Great Exhibition, 200 years on from when they were born.

This year’s Festival brings together more than twenty institutions in and around South Kensington for the first time, including Imperial College London, the Royal Commission of 1851, Royal Albert Hall, V&A, Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. With over 150 live events, the Festival is transforming the area, which is closed to traffic, as activities spill out into the surrounding streets.

The beating heart of the event is the 11 interactive themed zones packed full of creative activities, live experiments and friendly experts from the partner organisations, including a Nature Zone, Museum of Food, Robot Zone and Design Zone.

A street food market offers visitors to eat their way around the world, from Japanese to Spanish, Vietnamese to Italian.

What’s on:

  • 54 live talks – including appearances by the former Rector of the Royal College of Art Sir Christopher Frayling; Professor Lord Robert Winston; Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut; and the physicist and Everest explorer Melanie Windridge
  • 14 separate tours – of everything from drone arenas to flight simulators, carbon-capture plants and wind tunnels
Photo credit: Thomas Angus
Photo credit: Thomas Angus
  • 24 workshops – re-imagine the Apollo moon landings, have a go at playing a brass instrument or piece together a 3D stegosaurus
  • 26 live performances – from jazz to gospel; pole dancing to taekwondo
  • 9 demonstrations – try on a space suit or meet the V&A's ceramic artist in residence
  • 19 exhibitions – discover the origins of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and find out all about the future of food
  • 10 interactive zones – whether you’re interested in design, robotics, space or nature, there’s something for everyone
  • More than 750 researchers, scientists and clinicians will attend the festival

The Great Exhibition Road Festival builds on the success of the Imperial Festival, which is now in its eighth year, and has led to collaboration between scientists, artists and other creative partners. It aims to highlight Prince Albert’s role in organising the Great Exhibition and, with the funds it generated, establishing Exhibition Road as a world-leading centre of interdisciplinary study and research.


Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications Division

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