Festival 2020

Looking back to the pandemic days of 2020

Otley Science Festival 2020 went on-line…

We worked to deliver as full a “Covid friendly” Science Festival 2020 as we could and had a full schedule of events. Some events were planned to be on-line only, with others planned to be “blended” with a limited live audience, socially distanced, in Otley Courthouse but also being transmitted on-line. In addition, instead of the usual Saturday Science Fair we planned to have a Science Film Day.

But Covid-19 intervened…

With the news of the lockdown from 5th November we still planned to deliver all our events, but on-line only. The exception to this was, of course, the films on Saturday 14th which were cancelled.

This is how the week looked:

  • Monday 9th, 19.30: Zap! with Marty Jopson
  • Tuesday 10th, 19.30: Science Café
  • Wednesday 11th, 19.00: Science Quiz
  • Thursday 12th, 19.30: The World according to Physics with Professor Jim Alkalili
  • Friday 13th, 19.30: An Evening With Professor Tim Benton, leading environmental scientist
  • Saturday 14th: Science Film Day (Courthouse only)
    • 10.00 and 14.00, family film – Wall-E
    • 19.30 – Radioactive

Scroll down for additional details on each event.

There was no charge for on-line participation in any events, but it was necessary to pre-book to join. Booking closed at 6pm on the day for the evening events, 11am for Friday’s Science Lunch.

As usual, there were also shows for schools. These ran on Tuesday and Wednesday of the week and schools were able to join the live shows on-line. Further details are here on the Schools page.

Monday 9th November, 19.30. Live and on-line.

ZAP! with Marty Jopson


It’s high-voltage time! Watch as Marty Jopson, local TV Scientist takes a sparky journey through the story of electricity. From the Ancient Greeks, through Faraday’s genius, this show aims to put the awesome back into electricity.

With a one million volt spark and the crack of a whip, you may think we have electricity tamed, but are you sure? A show chock full of demonstrations: the astonishing floating orb, a light bulb made from a pencil lead and a plucked chicken. There will be at least one explosion.

Live tickets £10 adult / £8 child – click here

On-line tickets free (pre-booking required) – click here

This is the link to the event survey. If you have attended, we’d really appreciate your feedback here

Tuesday 10th November, 19.30. Live and on-line.

Science Café

Now in its thirteenth season, the Otley Science Café promises to bring the usual eclectic mixture of scientific topics delivered in bite sized chunks for your entertainment.

We will have our traditional trio of speakers, each given a quarter of an hour and plenty of time for you to ask questions and quiz them afterwards. Join us for a relaxed and fun evening of science suitable for all ages and all interests.

Full details can be found on the Science Cafés page.

Live tickets £5 / under 18 free – click here

On-line tickets free (pre-booking required) – click here

This is the link to the event survey. If you have attended, we’d really appreciate your feedback here

Wednesday 11th November, 7pm. On-line only.

Do you enjoy a quiz?

Would you like to learn about life on the moon?

And what moves faster than light?

Join in the Otley Science Festival On-Line Quiz hosted by Otley Courthouse. The quiz will be loosely science-themed but being a clever scientist won’t help you! And you’ll learn some amazing facts, witness some astonishing sights and sounds, and have an outrageously good time!

On-line event only, free to participate, book for joining details – click here

This is the link to the event survey. If you have attended, we’d really appreciate your feedback here

Thursday 12th November, 7.30pm. On-line only.

The World According to Physics with Professor Jim Al-Khalili


Join Prof. Al-Khalili as he tells about his latest book, The World According to Physics that shines a light on the most profound insights revealed by modern physics. He will invite us all to understand what this crucially important science tells us about the universe and the nature of reality itself.

Physics is revealed as an intrepid human quest for ever more foundational principles that accurately explain the natural world we see around us, guided by core values such as honesty and doubt in the search for truth. The knowledge discovered by physics both empowers and humbles us, and still physics continues to delve valiantly into the unknown.

On-line only event, tickets free (pre-booking required) – click here to book

This is the link to the event survey. If you have attended, we’d really appreciate your feedback here

Friday 13th November, 12.30pm. Live and on-line. Science “Packed Lunch”

Yorkshire’s Traveller Through Time with Colin Speakman

We were planning a covid compliant version of our popular Science Lunch…


You can still enjoy a lunchtime talk given by local author, Colin Speakman on one of Yorkshire’s forgotten geniuses. John Phillips was not only a ground-breaking geologist but also a cartographer, astronomer, meteorologist, artist and railway guide writer.

Find out more, listen in and have a picnic at home.

This talk is a companion to Colin Speakman’s recently published book with the same title. To find out more about this Yorkshire scientific pioneer (and, if you wish, buy a copy of the book) follow this link: https://gritstonecoop.co.uk/books/john-phillips/

Live tickets £5 – click here

On-line tickets free (pre-booking required) – click here

This is the link to the event survey. If you have attended, we’d really appreciate your feedback here

Friday 13th November, 7.30pm. Live and on-line.

Why becoming a more sustainable society matters: an evening with Professor Tim Benton


An opportunity to listen to and then get into discussion with one of the UK’s top environmental scientist on the most important issues of today.

Professor Tim Benton, Chatham House Research Director, Emerging Risks and University of Leeds Reserach Professor will talk about how climate change impacts are societies with more people movement, more anti-immigration, more nationalism – more societal risks.

From 2011-2016 he was the “champion” of the UK’s Global Food Security programme which was a multi-agency partnership of the UK’s public bodies (government departments, devolved governments and research councils) with an interest in the challenges around food.

He has worked with UK governments, the EU and G20.  He has been a global agenda steward of the World Economic Forum, and is an author of the IPCC’s Special Report on Food, Land and Climate (2019), and the UK’s Climate Change Risk Assessment as well as publishing more than 150 other academic papers.

Live tickets £10 adult / £8 child – click here

On-line tickets free (pre-booking required) – click here

This is the link to the event survey. If you have attended, we’d really appreciate your feedback here

Saturday 14th November, in the Courthouse

Science Film Day: Cancelled

Matinee: 10.00 and 14.00


A machine responsible for cleaning a waste-covered Earth meets another robot and falls in love with her. Together, they set out on a journey that will alter the fate of mankind.

“If anyone doubted that Pixar is the most creative outfit in modern motion pictures, this movie should convince them. It is a genuine masterpiece, a word I don’t use often.” Paul Byrnes, Sydney Morning Herald

“Among its many wondrous achievements, the animated WALL-E is a sci-fi trifecta: a vision of the future, a tale for our times and a blast from the past.” Joe Williams, St Louis Post-Dispatch

Tickets £5 – click here

Evening: 19.30


After the death of her beloved husband, Marie Curie’s commitment to science remains strong as she tries to explain previously unknown radioactive elements. But it soon becomes terrifyingly evident that her work could lead to applications in medicine that could save thousands of lives — or applications in warfare that could destroy them by the billions.

“Curie’s relevance shines through the film. She continues to pave the way for women to assert their intelligence and persist in gaining their rightful place in academia and research.” Sr. Rose Pacatte, St. Anthony Messenger

“A solid biopic, which foregrounds yet another towering performance by the terrific Rosamund Pike.” Tom Beasley, VultureHound

Also starts local hero Sam Riley, born and brought up in Menston.

Tickets £5 – click here

Further information and tickets:

Tickets for joining on-line are available now from the Otley Courthouse Science Festival page – https://otleycourthouse.org.uk/home/otley-science-festival/

We’d really like to hear what you thought of the Science Festival as a whole, so if you have attended, or even just thought about attending, then please follow this link and give us your feedback

The address of Otley Courthouse is below, however because of lockdown it is not open for ticket sales.

Otley Courthouse Arts Centre
Courthouse Street
West Yorks
LS21 3AN

Phone: 01943 467466 (please note: due to Covid the phone may not be answered in person, but you will be able to leave a message).

You can email Otley Science Festival here: info@otleysciencefestival.co.uk
or follow us on Twitter @otleyscience

Otley Science Festival is supported by a number of sponsors whose help enables us to put on this great event. Our thanks go to all of them.

Science Festival sponsors 2019

If you want to look back to pre-Covid days, you can find the record of last year’s Science Festival here

OSF Ideas Go bang red