Festivals and other public events offer opportunities for public engagement that researchers can tap into. Established festivals, such as the Cheltenham Festivals (external website), usually have a specific location and staff that researchers can use.
It is also possible to work with different festivals to reach out to new groups, such as the Einstein at Glastonbury project (external website) which engaged Glastonbury Festival goers with physics. The BIG website has a list of science festivals.
Themed weeks, such as the ESRC Festival of Social Science, or even themed years, provide a focus for activities in specific areas, but these are not tied to a specific location or public group. Researchers can develop their own activities and events and link these into the wider theme to build publicity and draw on funding.
Public events can also be organised on a smaller scale, either as one-off small events or as a series of linked events. For example, an academic institution may organise a series of public lectures or hands-on activities for teachers.
These one-off events can be an ideal opportunity to gather opinions that might shape future research directions. Careful choice of venue can help you reach specific groups of people. For example, a venue that is attractive to children might allow you to reach family groups, while a shopping mall might attract a broader range of participants.