Grantham’s third biennial Gravity Fields Festival has been heralded the ‘best yet’ and ‘phenomenal’, attracting tens of thousands of people to events in town and across the district.
South Kesteven District Council says new records have been set for ticket sales although it has not yet released any figures.
But it does say that the festival has injected about £1 million into the local economy.
Many of the arts and science events across the five day Sir Isaac Newton-inspired festival were a sell-out and on Saturday the town was jam-packed with people enjoying the attractions at St Wulfram’s Church, Market Place and Abbey Gardens as part of the “Ingenious Night Out”.
The climax came on St Peter’s Hill with the Helios flame machine, an LED umbrella show, a procession of over 500 schoolchildren and community participants, and a fantastic firework display.
Festival patron Professor Val Gibson, Head of High Energy Physics at the University of Cambridge, recalled growing up in Grantham when science was strictly confined to the classroom. She said: “Our Gravity Fields Festival is head and shoulders above any other arts and science festival in the UK, particularly because it involves so much of the community. It proves that learning can be fun and has the potential to start fantastic career paths.”
The festival, celebrating the 350th anniversary of Sir Isaac Newton’s incredible advances on gravitational forces and light, is organised by South Kesteven District Council with Curator Rosemary Richards (Rosa Productions), Co-Curator (Science) Dr Harry Cliff, Jeremy James (Outdoor Arts), and the Guildhall Arts Centre (Indoor Arts and Family Content).
Leader of the Council, Coun Bob Adams, said the event had built a reputation for staging a quality programme. He said: “It was fantastic to see so many people booking tickets for a whole host of science and arts events. On top of that we expect the festival to inject more than a £1 million into the local economy. I can’t think of a better way to showcase our district as a great place to live and invest and it is very encouraging that we’re talking to investors who think that way too.
“We believe Grantham and the whole of South Kesteven has got a great future and festivals like Gravity Fields will play a big part in achieving that success.”
Ockham’s Razor wowed crowds following the civic launch on Wednesday with an emotional display of aerial theatre at St Wulfram’s Church.
Over 1,500 adults and children loved the outstanding Ministry of Science shows at Grantham Meres Leisure Centre on the first day of the festival as the educational and fun side of science met with some explosive results.
Meanwhile in Abbey Gardens the Anti-Grav Box (see the video) grabbed the imagination of the young and old with its fun optical illusion producing some funny and thought provoking scenes. Across the road at The Alive Church, IOU’s Speaking Tubes provided an experience like no other with supersonic vortex steel rings.
A must-see was Grantham’s own Chantry Dance who entertained a packed Guildhall Arts Centre with their ‘Ulysses Unbound’ and ‘The Stacked Deck’ performances.
Hundreds of people visited the beautiful solargraph exhibition in the Newton Room thanks to local artist Kelly Barfoot and at St John the Baptist Church in Colsterworth.
Cambridge’s world-famous Cavendish Laboratory re-created a legendary scientific dinner for guests at The Angel and Royal Hotel.
At Woolsthorpe Manor local schoolchildren loved plague day re-enactments and Sunday’s family day was packed, whilst talks from Professor Frank Close and Professor Andrei Zvelindovsky inspired audiences to discover insights on physics and mathematics.
Dallas Campbell, writer, TV presenter and Gravity Fields patron, hosted a popular chat show with Tom Adams (Apollo 11 Campervan), Simon Watt (Ugly Animal Roadshow), engineer Dr Hugh Hunt, Professor Gibson and Dr Cliff.
Splitting his time between Woolsthorpe and Grantham, he said: “I love coming to Gravity Fields Festival. It’s a phenomenal event and I cannot wait for the next one in 2018.”