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Sussex scientists announce new WonderFest event to celebrate the curiosity and wonder of our world

Dr Katy Petherick and Dr Stephen Wilkins

Two scientists at the University of Sussex - Dr Katy Petherick and Dr Stephen Wilkins - have announced a brand new festival for Brighton called WonderFest.  The first WonderFest event will be held on Saturday 26 October at Brighton Racecourse.

It’s a free one-day festival that invites members of the public to explore curious and wonderful things in life.  WonderFest will be the first outing for Katy and Stephen’s new charity Curiosity Sussex, which will aim to inspire a sense of curiosity in everyone. While they are both scientists, Katy and Stephen are keen that the Wonderfest event, and their charity Curiosity Sussex, will bring together the arts and the humanities as well as the sciences. The duo have worked together before on projects such as Lewes STEMfest which have helped to inspire a thirst for learning and curiosity in local children and families. 

Dr Stephen Wilkins, an astrophysicist in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex and co-founder of Curiosity Sussex, said:

“At the University of Sussex we’ve developed a real love of sharing the wonder of our own disciplines – for me that’s astrophysics and for Katy that’s cancer research.  We both enjoy inspiring a sense of wonder in our students, but also in the school children and local families we meet as part of our roles at Sussex. And now the new charity we’re launching, called ‘Curiosity Sussex’, will aim to encourage a sense of curiosity in even more people. The first event for Curiosity Sussex is WonderFest, which will be a one-day festival in Brighton. We hope lots of people will come along to explore and celebrate the wonder of the world around us. And it’ll be completely free to attend.”

Dr Katy Petherick from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex, who is the Director of WonderFest and co-founder of Curiosity Sussex, said:

"For us, WonderFest is about exploring the world around us and sharing ideas, inventions and inspirations between each other.   We are looking for exhibitors willing to discuss, debate and create with visitors, and we hope to attract demonstrations from all backgrounds and experiences; you might be an artist, a builder or a scientist - everyone is welcome to contribute!”

The first WonderFest will have a futuristic theme, with a particular focus on how we can all collaborate to build a better world for ourselves.

Jacqueline Currie, a science and arts communicator and educator through her business Curiosity Hub is Assistant WonderFest Director and another co-founder of Curiosity Sussex. She said:,

"We have chosen 'Futures' as the theme for our first WonderFest in 2019 because we hope it will ignite ideas in people about how they would change the future for the better. This could be improving methods to health, transport, culture, education or your own city; it's an opportunity to share your creativeness and challenge convention."

The call is now open for exhibitors and demonstrators for WonderFest. There will be around fifty exhibition spaces available: whether that’s for artists, engineers, painters, musicians, story-tellers, ecologists – all are welcome, Katy and Stephen urge anyone interested to get in touch via the website.

By: Anna Ford
Last updated: Monday, 10 June 2019