Our Festival 2012-2022
Science in the City (SitC) Festival turns TEN! For 10 years, it has been building bridges between researchers, artists and the community to organise a magical night in Valletta and now in a Hybrid format. This festival is part of European Researchers’ Night that takes place on the same night/s in over 300 cities throughout Europe.
This year we have three different formats: A live Virtual festival set up in a professional studio, an indoor festival in different locations spread in the core of Valletta and an outdoor street festival to bring research to citizens in an engaging and interactive experience for all! Throughout September we will start our pre-festival events, with two days of jam packed fun for the main festival on the 30 September and 1 October. More events, more fun!
With over 30,000 visitors every year (pre-covid), and 20,000 views in the online festival, it is a fantastic opportunity for scientists, artists and citizens to collaborate and get creative. Every SitC looks for new and exciting ways to engage citizens with science and the arts. Dazzling art pieces, inspired by Malta’s most relevant research, have become synonymous with the festival’s magenta logo.
For the past two years the Science in the City team has seen the need to engage, empower and enable citizens with science and the arts, to equip them with creativity, innovation and critical thinking. In this way, we hope to introduce an element of critique, a spark of freedom and the promise of progress into the world of human action.
Our goal is to ensure that the idea that citizens can use research-based knowledge to help them identify the distinctive political, social, environmental and technical challenges and opportunities that confront us, will take root. This year’s festival will continue to work towards this goal, in the hope that the community will be better equipped to influence the policies and decisions that affect them at every level: Science in the City 2022 – Taking Root!
The festival will focus on the European Green Deal’s and Horizon Europe’s missions. Taking Root emphasises how important the goals set out by the European Commission are for the survival of our planet. Our society needs research to have a holistic approach. If research is to find the ingenious solutions to the challenges we are facing then we need to work together. Scientists, the community, creatives and decision makers. Science also needs to work alongside other fields, such as philosophy, ethics alongside innovation and so on. Increased knowledge and empathy can also help us become the active, responsible citizens this world needs to face the monumental changes we are experiencing, especially to our environment, nutrition and health. COVID-19 has shown how vital research is, while climate change is an unavoidable threat we need to adapt and build resilience towards.
SitC lives by this creed and aims to highlight the importance of this responsibility by encouraging artists and scientists to set up activities which include the involvement of citizens from their inception, through workshops and focus groups, to help shape the outcome of the events.
The Consortium will set up a national event reaching out to most of Malta’s population, through its campaign to attract tens of thousands of people both in Valletta and online. Visitors will interact with researchers, artists and community members through street art, labs, music, dance, installations, performances, games, shows, talks, interactive experiments, stand-up comedy, science cafes, meet the researcher set-ups and a host of other activities. Online visitors can take part in webinars, quizzes, do-it-at-home experiments, performances, online escape rooms, and other hybrid and digital arts and science events.
We love to hear your feedback, ideas and suggestions so do contact us on [email protected] if you have anything you wish to share with us.
Should you wish to join us as a volunteer, intern, scientist or artist click on Get Involved to check out your options.
The Science in the City Festival was first held way back in 2012. It was the first science and arts festival to be brought to Malta’s shores and has been growing in scale and vision ever since. The number of attendees has more than doubled from 12,000 in 2012 to 30,000 in 2018 — 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 400 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, creating music with plants to X-Ray Crystallography; with a planetarium at its 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 centred around mental health. 2017 saw the festival reach new heights and focused on how today’s research is shaping our future with highlights including Light Pushes Stuff (an interactive moving sculpture powered by light), virtual reality demonstrations, a large Hologram installation (the first of its kind in Malta!) bringing the human body to life in 3D and the music-science fusion “Jazz for the Brain” where lights and music displayed the complexity of a stroke, and the technology being used to treat the condition. In 2018, we worked with the Valletta 2018 Foundation to feature ‘Pushing The Mouse’: a giant computer mouse that was pushed around the Triton Fountain by visitors, as well as a high-tech augmented reality experience called The Fourth Triton. Meanwhile, St Georges square was transformed by ReFraming Carbon, an artwork inspired by Malta’s rich heritage.
The latest festival 2020 was held digitally to more than 20, 000 unique online users. We converted all physical performances, music, theatre, experiments and other content to live or pre-recorded sessions streamed from a studio. It was challenging but incredibly rewarding with engagement by people from Turkey to Ireland, motivating us to run hybrid festivals from 2021 onwards!
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 simultaneously. Malta’s proposal always ranks highly amongst over 100 applicants. 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 chat with researchers. In Malta, we transform Valletta and the web to engage with research. For European Researchers’ 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 recognised 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.
Besides the festival, 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 uses film as a medium to discuss advances in science. A film is first screened and followed by discourse with researchers on how these findings are affecting our society and the science behind the film. Kids Dig Science hold workshops throughout the year in which children from the age of seven can learn about science through theatre and hands on experiments.
Alongside the release of each issue of the University of Malta’s research magazine, THINK, there is a SoapBox event where researchers get 15 minutes on the box to talk about new projects or ideas over a drink at a bar.
Tiskopri goes to Maltese schools with creative STEAM activities for students. The activities are run by University of Malta students, staff and researchers.
The team (with international trainers) run STEAM Summer School which offers a transcultural science communication intensive course to people from all over the world. It will be held in January of 2021 in Malta.