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Go wild at the Festival of Nature this weekend

Visitors enjoy last year's Festival of Nature

Visitors enjoy last year's Festival of Nature

Press release issued: 11 June 2012

The Bristol Festival of Nature will unleash the city's wild side this weekend [16-17 June] when it returns to the city’s Harbourside, giving visitors the chance to interact with everything from tree graffiti to mud painting. It’s the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world and features a programme of talks, workshops, screenings and stalls from 150 exhibitors, including the University of Bristol.

It’s the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world and features a programme of talks, workshops, screenings and stalls from 150 exhibitors, including the University of Bristol.

The diverse range of university activities, largely led by students and based on their research, includes an exhibit by PhD researcher Chantel Summerfield whose work looking at arborglyphs – carvings made by soldiers during the war – has enabled her to uncover fascinating wartime stories from around the world. Visitors are urged to try their hand at ‘tree graffiti’ by creating their own carving.

Heritage closer to home will be examined through a display of paintings and illustrations which show Bristol’s evolving landscape through the years, thanks to a collaboration between M Shed, Bristol Museum and historians from the University.

Young scientists, from an exhibit named ‘Collective Complexity’, will be involving visitors to the Festival in a unique experiment which will show how quickly disease can spread, using stickers to symbolise germs. A fellow exhibit, also within the University of Bristol tent, will counteract this by issuing vaccination and cure stickers to give a visual illustration of disease control.

Rebecca Jones, from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Public Engagement, said: “The Festival of Nature is a great way to engage with people of all ages and it’s the ideal opportunity to showcase the vast range of research going on here at the University. We have nine diverse exhibits which promise to give visitors a unique insight into the world around them – from the importance of seeds to how bees collect nectar and how our brains are more sophisticated than the most complex computers in the world.

“Our tent was ranked the second best by visitors to last year’s Festival so we’re hoping to have another successful year. We’re next to the BBC Natural History Unit’s tent in Millennium Square so should be easy to find.”

Pupils from across the South West will enjoy a special day just for schools on Friday [15 June], then the public are welcome between 10am and 6pm on Saturday and from 11am to 6pm on Sunday.

The Festival is now in its ninth year and has attracted tens of thousands of people since it began, helping to ensure Bristol’s worldwide reputation for natural history communication.

The Festival was named ‘Tourism Event of the Year 2011’ in the Bristol Tourism and Hospitality Industry Awards 2011, and was awarded Bronze in the Tourism Event of the Year category at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2011-2012.

For further information, please see the Festival of Nature website:

Further information

About the Festival of Nature:

The Festival aims to engage the widest possible audience in the UK’s biggest celebration of the natural world. Its main objectives are to deliver a memorable celebration of the natural world and to cement Bristol’s reputation as a leading centre for the understanding and appreciation of natural history; and to attract new audiences and widen participation in the understanding and enjoyment of the natural world.

The Bristol Festival of Nature is an initiative of the Bristol Natural History Consortium, a charitable collaboration between: Avon Wildlife Trust, BBC Natural History Unit, Bristol City Council, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Defra, Environment Agency, National Trust, Natural England, University of Bristol, University of the West of England, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and Wildscreen.

In 2012, the Festival is supported by At-Bristol, Institute of Physics Publishing, Clifton College, Bristol Water, Sita UK and Good Energy.

The Bristol Festival of Nature is working in collaboration with Research Councils UK (RCUK), the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils to deliver public engagement activities focussed on the new Connected Communities cross-cutting research programme. Connected Communities is led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

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