Gravity Fields Festival 2014 has been hailed an outstanding success by organiser South Kesteven District Council.
According to the council, early reports indicate that up to 60,000 people visited the outdoor events, shows and exhibitions over the five days – 15,000 for Saturday’s transformation of the town alone.
Ticket sales over 120+ events were double the number sold in 2012, some 38 schools attended events in the education programme and new venues such as St Wulfram’s Church added a whole new dimension.
Tickets were sold to customers in London, Canterbury and Devon and visitors from America and Australia illustrated the festival’s widening international appeal – including two Japanese diners at the closing supper.
Town food retailers reported Saturday trade better than Christmas, bars were packed and The George Centre, host to a four-day science fair, reported footfall had more than doubled compared with the same day last year.
Centre manager Hilary Pearce said: “Over 30,000 people visited the centre over the week with 11,700 visiting on Saturday – the festival’s busiest day. I am extremely thrilled to have been part of what was another fantastic festival, not only for the centre but businesses throughout the town as well.”
Gravity Fields’ three patrons were prominent throughout. Professor Valerie Gibson helped front a CERN Live exhibition in St Wulfram’s with links to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva and world Newton expert Professor Rob Iliffe delivered talks at both Grantham and Woolsthorpe Manor.
Dallas Campbell, who asked questions of Professor Brian Cox in the live web link coup with Britain’s favourite scientist, spoke at the closing dinner of his affection for the event.
“When I came here in 2012 for Gravity Fields I completely fell in love with the festival and this year it’s just got better and better”, said Dallas, due to appear next month in a major TV documentary on Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun and currently working on a new series entitled ‘Britain Beneath Our Feet’.
“I long for the day that we don’t speak of science outreach, the day when we recognise that science is something we should all be part of.
“Look what’s happened in just a decade. Ten years ago CERN was not on anyone’s radar. Now it’s looking at the very fundamentals of nature and how the universe works. Roll on Gravity Fields 2016.”
Council Leader Linda Neal said she thoroughly enjoyed everything about the festival which not only attracted huge community involvement but visitors from far and wide.
She said: “The outdoor events – particularly the explosive transformation of the town on Saturday night - were absolutely fabulous and cemented our decision to stage our third Gravity Fields in two year’s time.
“The festival goes from strength to strength and gives Grantham both regional and national exposure in the best possible light. It is becoming known as one of the most popular science festivals in the country.”
Claire Cant, owner of Liberty Rose’s Tea Room said it was lovely to see the town buzzing with so many people.
She said: “We welcomed new customers who hadn’t discovered us before the event and I hope we can all continue to build on this success to continue welcoming new people into Grantham.”