Science festival shines a light on nature and climate change

Dan O'Neill sitting by a lake with his camera

Wildlife filmmaker Dan O'Neill will relive and discuss his greatest challenges and most daring adventures alongside biologist Lizzie Daly - Credit: Dan O'Neill

Norwich Science Festival covers a wide range of topics across its events and themed days. Here we take a look at the exciting line-up around nature and climate change.


Nature events are always popular at Norwich Science Festival, and the Nature and Zoology Day, sponsored by ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure, makes a welcome return on Saturday, October 23.  

Add to this the fact that the headline sponsor this year is Pensthorpe Natural Park, and it’s no surprise that the festival features a range of informative nature talks, debates and even sound walks. 

“There has always been an intrinsic connection between nature and science – from both physical and psychological personal wellbeing through to cognitive benefits, where exposure to nature has been linked to a whole host of benefits,” said Martin Dupee, general manager at Pensthorpe. 

“We can’t wait to be able to bring nature to the city of Norwich, working alongside some great partners and speakers to support us in delivering an educational experience for all generations.” 


Portrait picture of Helen Scales

Marine biologist Dr Helen Scales will be exploring the wonders of the sea and the threat we pose to this essential environment - Credit: Norwich Science Festival

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The Brilliant Abyss 

1pm–2pm, The Refectory, Norwich School 

The sea is the single biggest habitable space on the planet. It’s home to fantastic lifeforms – from furry, dancing crabs to glowing worms swimming in elegant pirouettes – that have all evolved unique ways to survive in extreme conditions of super-high pressure and permanent darkness.  

Dr Helen Scales (left), a marine biologist, broadcaster and bestselling author, explores how a golden age of deep-sea science is underway. But humanity is also posing more threats than ever before on this critical unseen place.    

Cost: £6      


Exploring Antarctica 

11am–12pm, Norwich Arts Centre 

Are Antarctic animals in danger? 

In 2020, Lizzie Daly ventured to the frozen continent of Antarctica. In this talk she shares stories of her time there, the excitement of being in such close proximity with whales, penguins, albatross and leopard seals, as well as looking at some of the issues facing these species due to climate change. Recommended age: 8+ 

Cost: £5     

Behind The Adventure: Stories from the Wild 

3pm–4pm, Norwich Arts Centre 

From wild oceans to vast African plains and stories from the middle of the Amazon rainforest, biologist Lizzie Daly and wildlife filmmaker Dan O’Neill relive and discuss their greatest challenges and most daring adventures.  

Cost: £6 


Nature within Norfolk 

12pm–1pm, Blake Studio, Norwich School 

Are you down with northern clade pool frogs? Have you made friends with a britannicus swallowtail butterfly? Have you swooned as 100,000 arctic knot fly off The Wash above your head? 

In a light-hearted romp around Norfolk’s peerless wildlife, Allan Archer (Pensthorpe), Sue Penlington (Holkham) and naturalist Nick Acheson tell you why you should experience nature in Norfolk.  

Cost: Free, booking required

Aerial picture of Pensthorpe Natural Park

A talk about conservation at Pensthorpe Natural Park will reveal more about its work with corncrakes and curlews, as well as its role in the wild corridor of the Wensum - Credit: Pensthorpe


Conservation at Pensthorpe 

12.30pm–1.45pm, The Forum’s Gallery 

Over the past 10 years, Pensthorpe’s conservationists have raised more than 1,000 corncrakes in a sustained attempt to reintroduce them to East Anglia. This year alone, 97 crakes have been released, as well as more than 80 curlews, which have returned to the wild at Sandringham and Wild Ken Hill.  

Meanwhile, the 700-acre reserve and organic farm are a vital stepping stone in the remarkable wildlife corridor of the Wensum, Norfolk’s most important waterway for conservation. 

Chrissie Kelley (Pensthorpe) and Norfolk naturalist Nick Acheson explain what goes on behind the scenes at Pensthorpe to save corncrakes and curlews and to protect the amazing wildlife corridor of the Wensum. 

Cost: Free, booking recommended 

Profile picture of physicist and oceanographer Dr Helen Czerski

Physicist and oceanographer Dr Helen Czerski dives into the real beauty of the blue engine that is our oceans - Credit: Norwich Science Festival

The Blue Heart of Planet Earth with Dr Helen Czerski 

5pm–6pm, Blake Studio, Norwich School 

The ocean is not just the place where the fish live or a giant puddle that happens to cover much of Earth’s surface. It’s a beautiful and dynamic engine that drives our world.  

Join physicist, oceanographer, presenter, author and bubble enthusiast Dr Helen Czerski (inset below) as she dives into the real beauty of this blue engine.    

Cost: £6 


Ahead of the United Nations COP26 in Glasgow, Norwich Science Festival is also shining the spotlight on climate change, with a series of talks and activities across the week exploring what scientists are doing to tackle the problem and the action we can take – all sponsored by Vattenfall UK.   

Vattenfall has been developing renewable energy projects in the UK for 10 years, including the Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farms.  

Dr Catrin Ellis Jones, stakeholder engagement and communications manager for Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas for Vattenfall, said: “Living a climate-friendly life is not something any of us can do alone – we need to work on this together.  

“Please come and talk to us at The Forum on Sunday, October 24 about the ideas that are changing all our lives – from how much power just one rotation of a modern offshore wind turbine can generate, to how to make steel without burning carbon, to ideas you are working on at home and at school to be kinder to our beautiful planet.” 


Aerial picture of a volcanic island in the middle of the ocean

Don't miss Deception Island for an immersive poetry, sound and film expedition - Credit: Story Machine

Deception Island 

The Forum, various start times 

Step inside an exact replica of an Antarctic hut and be transported to Deception Island, a tiny volcanic caldera in the Antarctic Ocean. Here the rusting remains of industrial whaling and a seabed littered with whalebones testify to mankind’s greed and brutality – but the island is also an outpost of scientific exploration, a witness to human attentiveness and fortitude.   

This brand-new poetry installation from Story Machine and Elizabeth Lewis Williams will summon a place where human endeavour is set in the context of elemental conflict, a remote frontier where climate and months of winter darkness impose a kind of perpetual lockdown.  

As the ship carrying the author’s father edges through the basalt cliffs into the calmer waters of Whaler’s Bay, the island’s many voices, human and non-human, begin to speak.

Prepare to embark on an immersive poetry, sound and film expedition like nothing you have been on before!

Cost: Free 


Picture of a rail of clothes

Find out how you can be more sustainable in your fashion choices at the Hello Future Fashion panel discussion - Credit: Norwich Science Festival

Hello Future Fashion: Contributing to a More Sustainable Future 

5pm–6pm, The Refectory, Norwich School. 

Did you know that the United Nations Environment Programme estimates that the fashion industry produces 20pc of global wastewater and 10pc of global carbon emissions? 

With a focus on activity taking place in Norfolk, this panel discussion will explore technological innovations to create lower impact and more durable materials for fashion, as well as ways we can adapt our habits to minimise the impact of fashion on the environment, such as clothes renting, mending and remaking. 

Cost: Free, booking required 

Recommended age: 12+ 


Climate Action: The Time is Now 

3-4pm, Blake Studio, Norwich School 

Join Prof Ben Garrod as he talks to the UK’s most influential young voices on climate action and conservation, including Indy Greene, Phoebe Hanson, Kate Stephenson and Dawood Qureshi, as they discuss the challenges, fears and motivations in the existential fight for the future.  

The event will be followed by a Q&A and the opportunity to share your views.

Cost: Free 

Recommended age: 11+ 


A girl laying on a blanket outside reading a book

Find out why children's literature is such an important tool in fighting climate change at Cli-Fi: Exploring the Future Through Children's Fiction - Credit: Norwich Science Festival

Cli-Fi: Exploring the Future Through Children’s Fiction 

4pm–5pm, The Forum, Gallery 

Join Mitch Johnson – author of Kick and Pop! – for an engaging talk about how children’s literature is tackling the climate crisis. Drawing on some of his favourite climate-fiction (cli-fi) reads, Mitch will reveal how storytelling is a vital tool in the fight for positive environmental change, and how fiction can inspire us all to take a stand.  

The event will also feature an exploration of ‘The Living Book’, an immersive virtual reality experience that was created as part of UEA’s flagship Future and Form project in conjunction with Norfolk schoolchildren.  
Cost: Free, booking recommended 


Picture of Sir Bob Watson

Sir Bob Watson, considered one of the most influential environmental scientists worldwide, will be giving a talk and Q&A session during the festival - Credit: Norwich Science Festival

The Climate-Biodiversity Emergency 

7-8pm, online 

Join Sir Bob Watson, considered one of the most influential environmental scientists worldwide, for a live talk and Q&A as he discusses the current biodiversity crisis caused by climate change and how governments, businesses and society can limit climate change and preserve nature for future generations.

Hosted by Prof Trevor Davies from UEA.  

Cost: Free, booking required

Book and view the full list of Norwich Science events at

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