Imperial College London

Great Exhibition Road Festival returns this summer, celebrating arts and science


Attendees of the Festival wearing cardboard hats

Exhibition Road will host a vibrant festival next month, celebrating the ideas, people and communities that are changing our world.

We can’t wait to welcome members of the public to enjoy this weekend of fun and discovery, and to celebrate the trailblazers who have made this such a rich and vibrant centre of science and art. Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial

The Great Exhibition Road Festival returns from 18 to 19 June 2022. Museums, research and culture organisations are coming together with a packed schedule of inspirational events for all ages and opportunities to meet and hear from  some of the world’s great, innovative minds.

Admission to the festival and all of its events is free, but free advance tickets will be available for some events. Register now for the chance to hear the latest updates and for the chance to book tickets for popular events.

Blazing a trail

Trailblazers are at the heart of the summer festival, from the Victorian innovators of the Great Exhibition in 1851, to the people changing their communities today and those shaping our future with their research.

During the Festival weekend, visitors of all ages are invited to discover the power of ideas, celebrate curiosity, and reimagine a new world. Join the Chemical Kitchen for a cheesecake cook-along, build your own musical instrument, join the fashion surgery to redesign your unloved clothes, hear about the future potential of technology with gaming and AR experts, and go on an exciting adventure back in time to learn about dinosaurs at the Dino show.

Vicky Brightman, Head of Public Engagement at Imperial said, “We believe that anyone can have trailblazing ideas, big or small, and the Festival celebrates the fact that we can all change the world around us. We hope that visitors to the Festival will relish meeting some of London’s trailblazers and be encouraged to explore the things that inspire them. Wherever you look and whatever you love, there will be fun and exciting opportunities to take part in events.”

Zoning in

The Festival will feature eight zones to explore, including:

  • Hands-On Families zone: Packed with games, stories, crafts, quizzes, demos and experiments. Alongside scientists, artists and engineers, you can build rockets, extract DNA, transform transport, discover how animals adapt to climate change, how morse code can help badgers or how bacteria can turn plastic waste into new materials.
  • Adult zone: Sharpen your fashion upcycling skills, take in a cloud demo or grab a drink from the bar and relax in the garden – an oasis for adults in the middle of a busy festival.
  • Neurodiversity zone: Learn about the incredible creativity of neurodiverse artists and innovators, draw your own dyslexia, develop your own comic or science hero, make tinted glasses out of recycled materials, redesign the egg, or try knit bombing. Relax in a low sensory environment designed for tranquillity or enjoy art and poetry by neurodiverse creators.
  • Smart machines zone: Come meet the AI Systems, smart machines and digital decision makers that might influence our futures both online and in the real world.

Children interacting with a robot

Packed programme

The weekend will feature more than 100 free workshops, speaker events and immersive experiences. Highlights include:

  • Augmented physicality: Can AR blur the lines of sport and gaming?: Explore augmented reality’s potential to blur the lines that separate traditional sport from virtual gaming.
  • Fruitful science. Extract DNA from a strawberry!: Imperial scientists have prepared the lab, now we need you to join us to complete this experiment, extracting DNA from fruit.
  • SONDER: Step into a perception-altering, nostalgia-inducing urban experience curated by the Festival's Young Producers; engaging you on a borderless auditory and visual journey of nostalgic summertime memories using photography, film and sound.
  • Search for ancient life on Mars: Red planet scientists report on the latest findings from NASA’s Perseverance Rover and its ground-breaking search for evidence of possible Martian life.
  • Bees and us: Meet scientists making amazing discoveries about insects, and meet their friendly bumblebees. Make seedballs to grow bee food, and play games to find out how bees help get food on our plates.
  • Synch.Live: A joyful, participatory community art experience and cutting edge brain science experiment. Equipped with flashing LED hats, participants are challenged to synchronise their lights without talking or touching.
  • The music label run from prison: Join InHouse Records, the UK’s first record label to be launched in prison, to hear about breaking the reoffending cycle through music.
  • Amazing molecular science show: Explore how molecules are different shapes and sizes, and all around, even inside of us!
  • Why we infected healthy people with COVID-19: During the height of the pandemic, researchers from Imperial infected 36 healthy people with COVID-19. Find out why, how they made it safe, and what they learnt. 

Participants in a mock surgical theatre

Collaborative festival

The Great Exhibition Road Festival launched in 2019 as an annual celebration of curiosity and discovery, combining the imagination and world-leading expertise of iconic culture and research organisations in and around South Kensington.

Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said: “Collaboration is at the heart of the Festival, with the programme drawing on the combined imagination and expertise of our wonderful neighbouring institutions – resulting in an event that truly offers something for audiences of all ages and interests. We can’t wait to welcome members of the public to enjoy this weekend of fun and discovery, and to celebrate the trailblazers who have made this such a rich and vibrant centre of science and art.” 

The Great Exhibition Road Festival’s partners include: Imperial College London, Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Discover South Kensington, Natural History Museum, Royal College of Music, Science Museum, V&A, Royal Albert Hall, Goethe-Institut London, Institut Francais,  Royal College of Art, The Royal Parks, Kensington + Chelsea Art Week, and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) .

With thanks to our key partners the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council, and Huawei the Great Exhibition Road Festival's Lead Technology Sponsor.

A trombonist in the V&A courtyard

Book your free events now!

The Great Exhibition Road Festival returns from 18-19 June 2022 in venues around South Kensington.

All events are free, and some will have advance tickets released ahead of the Festival weekend. Register now for free for the latest updates and to hear when free tickets are released for popular events.


Andrew Youngson

Andrew Youngson
Communications Division


Comms-strategy-Wider-society, Strategy-share-the-wonder, Great-Exhibition-Road-Festival
See more tags

Leave a comment

Your comment may be published, displaying your name as you provide it, unless you request otherwise. Your contact details will never be published.