Science in the City is Malta’s national science and arts festival held in Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage site. On the big night (29 September—European Researchers’ Night), the city is transformed by science-inspired art installations, exhibitions, music, dance, theatre, children’s shows, live experiments, talks, tech areas, and much more. Among the many activities, this year’s highlights are the Science Fair, STEAM Squared, Light Pushes Stuff, Hologram and Jazz for the Brain. This memorable night provides a platform for citizens to engage with scientists and their research. It also involves some of Malta’s leading artists and entertainers, with this year’s performers including Malcolm Galea, Sean Briffa, Toni Gialanze, Andrew Schembri, Joseph Camilleri Bibi, Diccon Cooper, Carlo Muscat and others. This year’s edition will also include games, dance and even a 5-piece jazz band , all related to this year’s theme, “Futures Today’s Research; Tomorrow’s Society”.
Science in the City started in 2012 as Malta’s first science and arts festival to ever be brought to its shores and has been growing in its scale and vision ever since. The number of attendees has doubled from 12,000 in 2012 to 24,000 in 2016 – reaching over 6% of the total population of the Maltese Islands. The number of activities has more than tripled as has the number of partners, researchers and volunteers involved, with over 300 students and 80 researchers involved.
In 2012 the main event was You Are The Staircase, an art installation by Norbert Attard inspired by the work of geneticist Prof. Alex Felice. In 2013 there were the Humanised fruit flies – human-sized and depicted engaging in human activities – and Light up my house, an interactive installation. The 2014 edition included AMaze2 – a huge maze which threw in wide-ranging fields in science: from the CERN particle accelerator to creating music with plants to X-Ray Crystallography; with a planetarium at the centre. The 2015 edition focused on the Rosetta Comet, with St George’s square transformed into the Rosetta Satellite Space Mission, along with 3D printing of the same satellite, the hubble telescope and more. In 2016 the festival was themed ‘The Brain’, with exhibitions like Brain Square (inspired by comparison of different mammalian brains) and Anthropomorphic Sculptures (showing the evolution of the nervous system), along with discussions centered around mental health.
European Researchers’ Night
Science in the City is part of the EU-wide event: ‘European Researchers’ Night’, which takes place in over 30 countries and 300 cities. Every country has a unique approach to European Researchers’ Night, including opening research facilities (laboratories, research centres, museum collections), letting the public use the most recent technologies and instruments with the guidance of scientists, participation in experiments, competitions and quizzes, science demonstrations and simulations, engage in debates, and to party with researchers. In Malta, we transform the capital city Valletta to engage with research. For one night, everyone can be a scientist.
Science in the City is proudly funded by the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme H2020 (2014-2020) by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. Directorate-General for Education and Culture. European Commission.
Science in the City is recognized as a festival by ‘Europe for Festivals and Festivals for Europe’ (EFFE). EFFE is a platform, set up by the European Festivals Association, which serves as a stamp of quality given to those festivals which meet certain criteria. Namely, they must show artistic dedication, be involved in the local scene, and their outlook must reflect a European and global approach.
We are proud to be considered one of those festivals.
Other than on European Researcher’s night, there are several other activities you may be interested in. Science in the House is an exhibition that includes some of the most recent research carried out at the University of Malta, from all fields and disciplines. The event brings Members of Parliament and researchers together to discuss research on the eve of European Researcher’s Night. The exhibition in the foyer of the Parliament Building will then be open to the public during Science in the City (29 September), and in the week leading up to, and including, Notte Bianca (7 October). We also participate in Notte Bianca with several of our installations and stands.
There are also events throughout the year. Malta Cafe Scientifique is another way of bringing researchers’ work to the general public, through a small talk followed by dialogue. CineXjenza is an interesting new way of discussing advances in science, a film is first screened followed by discourse with researchers on how these findings are affecting our society and the science behind the film.