Get hands on and up close with scientists, hackers, coders, artists, musicians, experiments, explosions, space and lots more this half term from 22 October to 1 November at the 9th Manchester Science Festival.  The 11 day exploration and celebration of the wonders of science features largely free and drop-in activities, shows and events for all ages at the museum and many venues across Greater Manchester.

Explore the science of food at the Museum of Science and Industry’s brand new Cravings exhibition – aimed at youngsters aged 11 plus – from Thursday 22 October and find out what drives your desires for the grub you love.  Is it the colour of your spoon, the food your mum ate while pregnant, the trillions of bacteria that dine with you, or the little known ‘second brain’ in your gut? Take part in a real experiment on flavour perception, see an artificial gut, touch some 3D-printed mice and put your senses to the test with our scientific smell kit. Should we only eat cake on birthdays? Express your opinion on how we can get raging cravings under control on our Cravings Commander.  Discover unconventional dining utensils designed by scientists and chefs to trick our sense of taste. Find out if scientists think we ‘eat with our eyes’ and if we can be ‘addicted’ to food.

If that is not enough to get your juices flowing, visitors of all ages are invited to take part in the museum’s brand new interactive Cravings Quiz, to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Drop in, wet your appetites, and test your foody knowledge in this mischievous, funny and fast-paced game show, exploring what drives your desires for the foods you love.

Also premiering at the Museum of Science and Industry for this year’s Festival, is Evaporation – a brand new installation created by acclaimed artist Tania Kovats.

This new sculptural installation, commissioned by Cape Farewell, explores global, interconnected bodies of water and comprises of three large-scale, metal bowls reflecting the shape of oceans lifted from the globe, familiar but un-recognised in this sculptural representation. To mark this launch, creative drop-in workshops will be running throughout the Festival’s opening weekend, using paper art to explore why healthy seas are vital to maintain a healthy planet.

Lead Educational Sponsor, The University of Salford are transforming into a massive, open doors science experiment in their first ever Science Jam for this year’s Festival. Drop in for drawing with drones, playtime with musical robots, retro TV, bio selfies, a Science Question Time and lots more fun and hands-on science exploration at their purpose built site right in the heart of Media City.

Science fun is also on offer at the city’s three other universities for this year’s Festival. At Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU), Science Extravaganza, someone has stolen the head of the John Dalton statue and help is needed to find the culprit.  Join in a fantastic, fun-filled, family adventure to help solve the riddle, suitable for all the family and guaranteed to educate and enthral in equal measure!

Explore, build and play at The University of Manchester’s Science Spectacular at Manchester Museum and Whitworth Hall. Featuring more than 40 interactive experiments and demonstrations, budding scientists of all ages can take part in a range of challenging science quests.

Messy Science, Messy Maths and Messy Biology are on offer at the University of Bolton.

Take on the challenge of balance and fitness by tackling a climbing wall, discover the science involved in dust explosions, chip pan fires and fireworks and even make a jelly baby scream. Get your hands dirty with table-top experiments and live demonstrations, including dissecting an owl pellet to find out what they eat, making coins look shiny and new and have a go at maths puzzles for the chance to win a prize.

Visit the Museum of Science and Industry for a day with our main sponsors, Siemens to discover what is so special about a bus – yes a bus!  With a new generation of hybrid buses on Manchester’s roads, pop in to meet Siemens’s team of expert engineers to explore how the hybrids are doing their bit to prevent global warming.

Get Inside the Game is a brand new family experience at The National Football Museum, in association with CoderDojo and Code Club especially for this year’s Festival. Get your geek on with football-related coding activities using the Scratch programming environment. Instead of simply playing computer games learn to make your own, model the physics of football within simple computer gaming packages and over the course of the day become part of an online gallery displaying your programme within the museum. These free workshops coincide with the National Football Museum’s brand new major exhibition of Football and Computer Gaming which opens on 23 October.

The University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory opens its doors for this year’s Manchester Science Festival to celebrate British European Space Agency’s spaceman Tim Peake’s first mission to the International Space Station this December. Live science shows – complete with bangs – will explore the wonders, dangers, and realities of life in space. Watch a mini-rocket launch, discover how astronauts brush their teeth and go to the loo in microgravity, find out why tiny meteorites are threatening and why returning to Earth is so very dangerous.  Budding astronauts can also learn more about the space centre’s very own Lovell telescope through the dynamic building material that is – spaghetti.

Spark your curiosity for music at the Royal Northern College of Music’s Family Day this half term. Sing, shout, listen and learn about the connections between science and sound with noisy activities and drop-in workshops for all ages. The science of sound is also explored at Quarry Bank Mill on Sunday 1 November. Come and make some waves in a world of noise and discover the different sounds of the past and present resonating throughout one of the region’s most popular National Trust properties. Suitable for ears of all ages.

Science@Central is the second year Central Library has taken part in the Festival. Pop into the city’s stunning and recently refurbished Central Library for a day of science exploration on Wednesday 28 October. Take part in craft activities, handle limited edition books, catch the Creepy Crawly Show and discover how bugs can damage the library’s greatest treasures, its very own collection of rare books and archives.

Also at this year’s Festival and specifically aimed at adults and teenagers is the Biospheric Studio Greenhouse in Manchester Museum’s new gallery redevelopment, The Study. The greenhouse features a sealed eco-system in which the nutrient rich waste products of fish tanks filled with carp will feed mint plants housed within futuristic growing pillars. To celebrate the opening of this new greenhouse installation – a one off workshop will take place for nature enthusiasts aged 13+ on Saturday 31 October. Join Urban Naturalist to explore how mint and carp, forest farming and fungi combined with the latest technology systems, may unlock the answer to feeding urban populations.

Older children aged 11 + can also take part in Outbreak – a high-energy and high-pressure interactive street game.  Imagine you are a government scientist and the country is depending on you to identify and control a deadly new disease. Whilst working in teams, investigate the spread of a mysterious outbreak in Manchester, and devise an action plan to save the nation before time runs out.
Younger science boffins can meet Dr.Volcano at Z-Arts this October in “We’re Stuck!” – an interactive workshop for families all about brains and numbers. Take part in energetic games and ridiculous challenges with an award-winning team of theatre-makers, as they attempt to understand how we get stuck and unstuck in maths and in life.

Be sure not to miss Waters Corporation who will be using the museum’s popular pop-up space for contemporary science – Pi – Platform for Investigation – to run fun and interactive experiments behind food safety testing. Get creative, colourful and hands on to find out what’s nestled in your nosh. Big kids are welcome to join in with the experiments too.

All this plus daily science busking, experiments, hacking, a two day coding competition for juniors, making and the chance to meet and greet working scientists around the city – guarantees a half term full of scientific discovery, wonder, creativity and play.

Many events are free but will need advance booking. Full listings and details of how to book are available at