The Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019

The Great Exhibition Road Festival was a chance to explore the extraordinary this summer. Over one weekend, South Kensington’s Exhibition Road hosted a celebration of curiosity and discovery, with a new, free festival of art, science and culture. 

Running from 28-30 June, the Great Exhibition Road Festival saw the area transformed, with an array of interactive workshops, behind-the-scenes tours, exciting talks and dynamic performances to inspire all ages. There were over 175 different activities in Exhibition Road and the surrounding venues.Visitors were treated to soaring temperatures as the Festival got underway, with more than 750 researchers, scientists and clinicians attending from Imperial College London.

The festival was a collaboration between 22 organisations led by Imperial College London with the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Royal Albert Hall, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, V&A, Institut Francais, Royal College of Music, Royal College of Art, Historic Royal Palaces, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Design Museum, Royal Geographical Society, Ismaili Centre, Royal Society of Sculptors, Goethe-Institut London, The German Tourist Board, Royal Parks, Serpentine Galleries, Kensington & Chelsea Art Weekend, Westminster City Council and Discover South Kensington.

The iconic road was closed off to traffic for two days, as activities spilled out into the surrounding streets and scientists and curators escaped their offices to meet the public.The road was buzzing as visitors engaged with the activities, displays, workshops and music hosted by the cultural and educational venues out on the street - Albertopolis was transformed.

The Great Exhibition Road Festival celebrated curiosity, discovery and exploration on and around Exhibition Road in South Kensington. From our world to new worlds, from drones to design, and from symphony orchestras to brass bands, visitors were invited to Exhibition Road for a festival that brought together science and the arts.

There was the opportunity to explore a unique programme of creative workshops, talks, exhibitions and performances plus hundreds of hands-on activities including robots, interactive zones and virtual-reality headsets. 

  • Young scientists experimented in the Slime Lab, designed their own earthquakes and used crystals to create new medicines. Bigger kids can got hands on with a set design workshop recreating the Apollo 11 moon landings to mark the 50th anniversary of that ‘one small step for man’, plus there was a science-inspired Victorian fairground of the heart.
  • There were opportunities to explore Albert’s Germany, including an interactive exhibition of surprisingly passionate love letters between Victoria and Albert.
  • Visitors had the chance to experience dark matter, the mysterious missing stuff of the universe inside a multi-sensory,immersive installation, or play games with friendly robots and check out the latest developments in drones and AI.
  • Food, and its future, came under the spotlight with demonstrations and displays about freeganism, farming, edible water bottles to save on plastic,and the nutritional properties of bugs in our insect kitchen.Some of us even had the chance to indulge in a chocolate brownie made out of crickets! 

The Festival programming also focused on our local communities. For example, Imperial worked with families in North Kensington through EPIC on projects based around air pollution, creating young citizen scientists working with our researchers, and the Festival opened early for families with autism - this event followed on from the Natural History Museum’s Dawnosaurs event for the same audience.

We also worked with Kensington & Chelsea Volunteer Centre and Royal Albert Hall to run Albertopolis tours at the Festival providing free 40 minute tours of Albertopolis, running every 15 minutes.

We've had so much great feedback on the Great Exhibition Road Festival and it's been an extraordinary project to work on in partnership with 21 arts and science organisations in and around Exhibition Road. If you weren't able to join us, here is a lovely video Imperial College London have put together which really captures the feel of the event as well as our Twitter Moment.

It has been an extraordinary project to work on in partnership with 21 arts and science organisations in and around Exhibition Road and we are looking forward to next year's Great Exhibition Road Festival. If you don't want to miss out, sign up to the Festival newsletter here.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the Festival in 2020!

The Great Exhibition Road Festival
Credit Thomas Angus, Imperial
The Great Exhibition Road Festival
Credit Thomas Angus, Imperial
The Great Exhibition Road Festival
Credit Thomas Angus, Imperial
The Great Exhibition Road Festival
Credit Thomas Angus, Imperial
The Great Exhibition Road Festival
Credit Thomas Angus

The Great Exhibition Road Festival