Festival 2021

We are delighted to be back in person and (mostly) in Otley Courthouse for Otley Science Festival 2021 which runs from 15th to 20th November 2021 (plus the 24th !)

Once again we have a full week of events with a range of speakers covering diverse topics, our popular Science Lunch and (following it’s success last year) another Science Quiz.

This is the schedule for the week:

  • Monday 15th, 19.30 – Mobile Teardown with Marty Jopson, the science bloke off the telly
  • Tuesday 16th, 19.30 – Festival Science Café
  • Wednesday 17th, 16.00 – for the young audience – The Cloud Factory with Sarah Bearchell
  • Wednesday 17th, 19.30 – The return of the Science Quiz (on-line)
  • Thursday 18th, 20.00 – Being You: A New Science of Consciousness with Anil SethCancelled 😦
  • Friday 19th, 20.00 – Life in Space: the Truth is Up There with Libby Jackson, one of Britain’s leading experts in human spaceflight
  • Saturday 20th:
    • 10.00 – Science Fair
    • 20.00 – The Luck Factor with Professor Richard Wiseman, psychologist, author and magician

Then, on Wednesday November 24th, a bonus event – an opportunity to tour Sinclairs’ world famous paper stationery factory, hidden in the backstreets of Otley!

Scroll down for additional details and the booking link for each event.

As usual, there will also be shows for schools running on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Further details can be found on the Schools Page.


Monday 15th November, 19.30

Mobile Teardown with Marty Jopson

Join Marty Jopson, the science bloke off the telly, as he pries open and investigates a piece of ubiquitous technology – the mobile phone. Do you know what your phone is made from? This show reveals what’s inside, how bits of it works and what it all means for the planet.

An interactive show about surprising science, forceful demos, electronics, microscopic motors and rainbow crystals. It’s all about deploying delicate and highly technical equipment – and a hammer.

Tickets £10 adult, £8 child – click here


Tuesday 16th November, 19.30

Science Café

Now in its fourteenth 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 are on the Science Cafés page.

Tickets £5 / under 18 free – click here


Wednesday 17th November, 4pm – a show for the young budding scientist

The Cloud Factory with Sarah Bearchell

Have you ever touched a cloud? Have you ever smelled a strawberry cloud?!

Come to The Cloud Factory where you can touch, see and hear clouds as they are made from dry ice. They’ll even smell and taste interesting when we add in some unusual laboratory reagents!

This multi-sensory workshop is ideal for families and children aged 2 to 5 years. This event has limited numbers so booking a ticket is essential.

For ages 2 – 5. Tickets £5 – click here


Wednesday 17th November, 7.30pm. 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


Thursday 18th November, 8.00pm.

Being You: A New Science of Consciousness with Anil Seth

We are very sorry that this event has been cancelled due to events beyond our control

Anil Seth – one of Britain’s leading neuroscientists – has spent over two decades exploring the biological basis of conscious experience. In Being You, he guides the reader through crucial contributions from philosophy, biology, cognitive science, neuroscience and artificial intelligence, developing a new understanding of consciousness, and of what it means to be a ‘self’.

He interweaves personal stories – from undergoing general anaesthesia and taking psychedelics to visiting octopus laboratories – with the most up-to-date findings in the science of perception, drawing upon his own original research.

His radical argument is that we do not perceive the world objectively but rather that we are prediction machines, constantly estimating and hallucinating our world, and that we experience the world and the self with, through, and because of our living bodies. Seth’s theory sheds new light on free will, animal consciousness and the future of AI – and encourages us to see ourselves less apart from, and more a part of, the rest of nature.

Tickets £15 – click here


Friday 19th November, 12.30pm.

Science Lunch: Making Innovation More than Buzzword Bingo with Tony Morgan

Regrettably we are unable to go ahead with the Science Lunch this year. But hopefully back for 2022!

In today’s fast-changing world, innovation is critical to almost every organisation. The ones which stand still get left behind, but how can organisations and individuals ensure “innovation” is not just used for corporate buzzword bingo and create better solutions and technologies which address people’s needs?

In this engaging and interactive session, Tony will demonstrate how we can all use innovative techniques, such as “Design Thinking”, to understand what people want, create better outcomes and have some fun.

Tony Morgan is an Associate Professor at the University of Leeds, where he works with students and companies on the practical application of innovation to address business needs. His interests include emerging technologies and the use of “Design Thinking” to ensure innovative solutions match the needs of those using them. Tony’s career in industry included 20 years at IBM in senior technology and innovation roles.

In addition to having written a book about collaborative innovation, he’s the author of a series of historical novels, most famously “The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot”.


Friday 19th November, 8.00pm.

Life in Space: the Truth is Up There with Libby Jackson

Exploring space, with the stunning images of Earth, and life and death situations, can seem just like the movies. Stories of stranded astronauts, collisions, even drowning, would be at home on the big screen. But the reality of life as an astronaut is even better than the movies, with all these things happening.

Libby Jackson

Libby Jackson is a leading expert in human spaceflight with nearly two decades working in the field, including working in Mission Control. She will be sharing some of the most fantastic and captivating true stories of space exploration, from the earliest days of America and the Soviet Union racing to dominate the heavens, through to today’s adventures on the International Space Station.

Join her and discover how alongside bravery, daring and ingenuity, toothbrushes, and felt tip pens have triumphed, keeping missions on track and astronauts alive. Every story is told just as it happened, no matter how extraordinary they may seem.

Tickets £15 – click here


Saturday 20th November, 10am to 4pm

Science Fair

Science Fair images

Everyone’s favourite! Join local groups, regional museums and national organisations showing off the best of hands-on science in Yorkshire. From physics to biology and engineering to wildlife, come along to the Otley Courthouse for this year’s bustling science fair. There really is something for everyone, with stalls, demonstrations, workshops and experiments to have a go at.

Free event with something for everyone


Saturday 20th, 8.00pm

The Luck Factor with Professor Richard Wiseman.

Discover the science of luck and how to become luckier.

Why do some people lead happy successful lives whilst others face repeated failure? Why are some people consistently in the right place at the right time, while others are always unlucky? For over a decade, psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman has worked with some of the world’s luckiest and unluckiest people to answer these fascinating questions. In this talk he reveals how people and organisations create their good fortune by the way they think and behave, and the practical techniques that allow everyone to become luckier.

Tickets £19 – click here


Wednesday 24th November, 10.30am and 2.30pm

Sinclairs Factory Tour

Sinclairs would like to welcome you to a very unique tour of our world famous paper stationery factory! Nestled in the backstreets of Otley; Sinclairs has a rich history spanning back generations to 1837 – some of the Sinclairs family still work here today! Come along and see how we make millions of school exercise books, notebooks and sketchpads.

To make sure you get the most out of the tour the maximum number of attendees per tour is eight. 

Any children that wish to attend we’d ask to be over the age of 5 and must be accompanied by an adult.

As Sinclairs is a very old building, we have limited lift zones so we do ask that if you have any specific accessibility requirements, please highlight these to us prior to attending the tour so we can make sure we can be as inclusive and accessible as possible for you on your visit.

Tickets are free but must be booked in advance here


Further information and tickets:

Please note that from the start of November Otley Courthouse has reintroduced mandatory mark wearing. This means:

  • Please put on your face covering before entering the building and keep it on whilst moving around the building
  • If you are enjoying a drink and a nibble sitting in the café or bar, you may of course remove your mask to do so
  • If you have bought a drink to take into the auditorium, you may remove your mask once seated

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.

Otley Courthouse Arts Centre
Courthouse Street
Otley
West Yorks
LS21 3AN

Phone: 01943 467466.

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 2021

For the record we have left the details of last year’s Covid impacted Science Festival here

If you want to look back to pre-Covid days, you can find the record of 2019’s Science Festival here

OSF Ideas Go bang red