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FUTURES: A Festival of Discovery

A festival showcasing and engaging people across the South West of England with the region's research and innovation.



Project status

In progress


1 May 2018 to 28 Feb 2026

Since 2018, for two days in the autumn, FUTURES: A Festival of Discovery has been an opportunity for people to discover more about the research that is shaping our future with researchers from the region’s universities. FUTURES Festival received funding from the European Commission under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions as part of European Researchers' Night (2018-2021) and UK Research and Innovation as part of the Horizon Europe Guarantee (2022 - 2025).

Our approach

FUTURES: A Festival of Discovery is a public engagement collaboration between the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, University of Bristol, University of Exeter and University of Plymouth.

Originating as part of European Researchers' Night, FUTURES Festival continues today to display the diversity of science and its impact on citizens' daily lives in fun, inspiring ways and takes place annually over the last weekend in September.

Each partner in the consortium collaborates with cultural institutions and creative practitioners to develop engagement activities for researchers to engage people in their city and region.

FUTURES Festival aims to:

  • help researchers develop their public engagement skills and expertise

  • build on the rich legacy of innovation and cultural heritage in the South West region to showcase current research and the advances brought about by the universities

  • create opportunities for public groups to engage with research

  • facilitate greater interaction amongst different areas of research and break down disciplinary barriers

What we did

FUTURES Festival takes research directly to the people. Researchers have been heading out across five counties of the South West into shopping centres, botanic gardens, museums, cathedrals, naval vessels, and the streets to share their work and develop their skills and expertise in public engagement.

Programme of events

FUTURES: A Festival of Discovery

The FUTURES Festival team of public engagement professionals from across the consortium have been working with researchers and partner organisations such as museums, libraries, sports centres and cultural venues to develop engagement activities.

Since 2018, the team have been pushing the boundaries of programming for public engagement with research, producing a range of experimental and innovative activity formats online and in-person. These have included participatory workshops, hands-on experiments, theatre performances, community radio, science shows, games, quizzes, talks, competitions, and exhibitions.

These engagement activities have been opportunities for researchers to develop their and expertise in engaging public groups with their research and public engagement skills.

Between 2018 and 2023, 296,328 people participated in 174 FUTURES in-person and online activities, meeting over 1,761 researchers exploring diverse research topics including medieval manuscripts, artificial intelligence, climate change, microbial resistance and much more.

Find out more about the previous editions of FUTURES Festival:





Training programme for researchers

 A scientist demonstrating an experiment standing in front of their equipment
Researchers from the University of Bath taking part in Science Showoff, part of the FUTURES programme.

Working with researchers we created a programme of training and professional development opportunities to build their skills and expertise in public engagement with research. This involved:

  • co-produced and delivered workshops and masterclasses on science comedy, storytelling, science busking, presentation skills and social media with professional trainers

  • paired researchers with experience cultural programme producers and creative professionals to develop engagement activities

FUTURES Festival reports

A man using colour pens to draw a mural on a shop window
EU Corner mural at Make Tank in Exeter

Detailed descriptions of the work to develop and deliver the FUTURES Festival each year can be found in the reports for the European Commission. These reports cover details and outcomes of the awareness-raising campaign, descriptions of the activities that took place and an evaluation and impact assessment of each edition of the FUTURES Festival.

Find out more

Discover more about FUTURES Festival with some of these blogs, case studies, guides and resources.


A radio programme-maker at a radio desk recording an interview

Community groups and researchers worked together to co-create radio programmes that were broadcast across community radio in the South-West of England.

FUTURES Festival partners

FUTURES has been funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement numbers 818697 (FUTURES 2018 & 2019) 955253 (FUTURES2020) and 101036029‬ (FUTURES2021) and from the EPSRC EP/X023141/1 (FUTURES 2022 & 2023).

Find out more about FUTURES Festival

FUTURES: A Festival of Discovery


If you are interested in finding out more about FUTURES: A Festival of Discovery, drop us a line.