March 17th, 2021

Brace yourself, serious science is set to explode as part of International Science Festival

What does the moon, running with dinosaurs, and explosive science have in common? It’s all happening as part of this year's New Zealand International Science Festival! The Festival is thrilled to be launching their largest and most dynamic festival to date. Usually a biennial event, participants are in for a rare treat as the festival is set to run for a second consecutive year throughout the city of Dunedin this July school holidays (8th - 18th)  after a year of disruptions due to COVID-19, and having to reduce the 2020 festival to a nano size edition. 

With over 150 events planned in the pipeline, the Festival team are excited for what is to come this year. The full programme will be revealed two weeks earlier than in previous years, leaving a full five weeks for participants to plan their Festival experience, which spans a longer season of eleven days this year. 

In lieu of international guests, the Festival Director, Dan Hendra, says he is electrified that they are able to present an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram who is renowned worldwide for his sculptures, large installations, and live artwork. “To bring a global artwork of this calibre to Dunedin as part of the festival is just brilliant, as it’s such an out of this world spectacle to see”, says Mr Hendra. Presented in the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra’s Hanover Hall, Our Moon: Then, Now and Beyond is a way to experience Earth’s moon like never before. A four metre diameter sphere featuring a high resolution image of the moon’s surface and illuminated from within will be suspended from the ceiling of the 100 year old church. This artwork is presented by the Nelson Provincial Museum (Tasman Bays Heritage Trust) and in partnership with the Rātā Foundation, Cawthron Institute and the Embassy of the USA.

Back by popular demand the Festival have levelled up their virtual reality experiences, this time by building a Pop-Up Virtual Reality and Gaming Centre dedicated to some of the latest virtual reality experiences from around the globe. Walk on the moon, kayak the Grand Canyon or run amongst dinosaurs! This is an immersive experience like no other with the latest headsets on offer to play, engage and discover new worlds. To accompany the virtual reality experiences the Festival have partnered with CODE and the local gaming industry to showcase the incredible work being done right here in Dunedin.    

The Big Science Show was a standout at the 2020 Festival, and the team are excited for what they have in store for this year. Thanks to support from a DCC Arts grant, the festival has been able to further combine theatre and science to dramatically boost it’s capability, working with Dunedin playwright and comedian Abby Howells to write the show, and local theatre director and founder of Arcade Theatre Company Alex Wilson to direct. With all the serious fun of previous shows plus many new wow-factor experiments, expect to go through an explosive journey all in the name of science. 

The Festival is launching with some changes this year. For the first time since its inception, the Festival has undergone a major rebrand. The new brand identity was produced by Dunedin design and marketing agency Walsh & Beck, and the accompanying website was designed by Astronaut Digital with funding support from our long term partners, the Otago Community Trust.

The full programme will be available in The Star newspaper as an insert on Thursday 3rd June 2021 and at, with a second programme announcement on the 6th of May 2021.