Gravity Fields: The latest instalment of what’s on at the Grantham festival

12 days to go until Gravity Fields
12 days to go until Gravity Fields
Have your say

Thousands of pounds worth of tickets have already been sold for Grantham’s Gravity Fields Festival starting on September 24.

Bookings are significantly up compared with the same time in 2012 and, on social media, only one festival has more Twitter followers than Gravity Fields.

The event promises to be even more popular than the first Gravity Fields in 2012 with a packed five day programme of activities, presentations and speakers from 24-28 September.

Bookings from schools for curriculum-related science, human science and arts and history events have taken off with particular interest in the Science Museum’s Greatest Hits (favourite demos packed into one show) and Glorious Blood which follows blood through the human body - and out of it!

Other events selling well are Smashed, a mesmerising mix of juggling and theatre by world famous troupe Gandini, and The Goldberg Variations at Harlaxton Manor, a talk and recital by internationally acclaimed harpsichordist Douglas Hollick.

The Life and Times of Guy Gibson at St Vincent’s, Grantham, is booked solid and a Moveable Feast is proving popular with food lovers keen to local restaurants.

Councillor Bob Adams, South Kesteven District Council portfolio holder for leisure, arts and culture has urged people to book events and avoid disappointment, saying: “We have had people booking hundreds of pounds with worth of tickets with a single order.

“I am delighted that local people, and those from further afield, are responding to the opportunity to celebrate the life and work of Grantham’s most famous son, Sir Isaac Newton, and meet some of the UK’s top scientists and creative artists.

“Two years ago this council was proud to support a festival unlike anything seen in Grantham before. Gravity Fields Festival 2014 promises to be just as exciting.”

** A uniquely commissioned CERN Live exhibition at St Wulfram’s Church brings the world’s biggest scientific experiment to Grantham - with live links to Geneva.

Dr Harry Cliff, a rising star of the science world, is curating this new exhibition commissioned for Gravity Fields Festival which will tour other festivals and shows what is happening at CERN.

Dr Cliff is making a special presentation ‘Into the Unknown – what next for the Large Hadron Collider’ at 12 noon on Friday (26 Sept).

Professor Valerie Gibson, festival patron and UK spokesperson for CERN, presents her own ‘Life at the Collider’ event at 10.15 on Saturday, looking ahead to what mystery of the universe the Large Hadron Collider will reveal next, with an insight into its science, people and personalities.

** In Newton’s Footsteps offers a rare chance to trace the footsteps of Newton and his family, with two easy walks followed by two long distance hikes with walks specialist Ali Pretty and social media guru Richard White.

On the Wednesday, a four-mile walk around historic Culverthorpe Hall has the added interest of a Newton historian to talk about historic links.

Russell Newton, a collateral descendant, will finish the event with a presentation over lunch to share new research about Sir Isaac Newton’s connections with the baronets of Culverthorpe - in the very building where Newton is likely to have stayed when he spent time there. Parking at Culverthorpe Hall. Arrive 10am for coffee. Walk starts 10.30am.

On Thursday, a stroll around Great Gonerby unveils Newton-related links. While Newton was at the school, a windmill (or more likely postmill) was being constructed at the top of Gonerby Hill on the Great North Road. Isaac was fascinated by its construction and walked each day after school to observe the progress. He returned to Mr Clarke’s house and built a replica of it. Meeting point; Gonerby Church. Walk starts 10am.

Friday’s 20-mile walk starts at 9am outside St Wulfram’s Church, by the Old School at King’s School with a fact finding talk on Newton heritage few people will have noticed.

Walkers visit St Andrews Church, Boothby Pagnell, where Newton spent time at the rectory, (plus the village’s medieval manor house), on to St Thomas a Becket’s Church in Burton Coggles, where Newton’s uncle was vicar, to North Witham and back to Colsterworth, and Isaac’s local church.

Saturday’s route (15 miles) starts at 9am at Newton’s birthplace, Woolsthorpe Manor, takes in the school at Skillington where Newton possibly attended one of the dame schools, through Stoke Rochford with its obelisk dedicated to Newton and back to Grantham.

To book walks contact the Box Office on 01476 406158 or visit

** A new name has joined the panel for the top level Science Futures debate in St Wulfram’s Church on Wednesday 24 September – Dr Melody Clark, science and project leader at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge.

Dr Clark, who specialises in STEM skills and science funding, joined the British Antarctic Survey in August 2003 at the time when very little was known about the DNA of Antarctic organisms. She teams up with three other top scientists.

Late additions to the programme carry their own scientific fascination. Dr Didier Queloz, an expert on exoplanets, brings his latest findings to Harlaxton Manor at 2.30pm on Sunday, 28 September.

Earlier this year, NASA announced the discovery of 715 newly verified exoplanets - a planet that does not orbit the earth’s sun, but instead orbits a different star or stellar remnant .

On the same afternoon, the UK Space Agency outlines an international space station mission to be undertaken by British astronaut Tim Peake in November 2015 – to be named Principia in honour of Newton. Harlaxton Manor. 12.30pm.

** Some of the UK’s top scientists are in Grantham for Gravity Fields Festival.

There is an opportunity to put questions on how scientific research will benefit us and the big moral scientific dilemmas of the future, thanks to a major Science Futures panel event headed by festival patron Professor Valerie Gibson, UK spokesperson for the Large Hardron Collider at CERN (Wednesday, September 24, St Wulfram’s Church, 7.45pm).

Four of the UK’s leading female scientists are fronting Thursday’s special Women in Science live radio panel discussion focusing on the role of women in science to be broadcast from St Wulfram’s Church and including Sasha Norris, zoologist and environmentalist and Liz Beckmann, past-President of the British Institute of Radiology. Audience should arrive at 11.50am for live broadcast at noon.

Can we engineer the climate? Dr Hugh Hunt, University of Cambridge, Dr Matthew Watson, University of Bristol and colleagues ask whether the theories are even too dangerous to contemplate. Wednesday, September 24. St Wulfram’s Church. 2.45pm.

Choose between listening to two top scientists from CERN, with either rising star Dr Harry Cliff (Into the Unknown, Friday, noon) or Professor Gibson (Life At the Collider, Saturday, 10.15am ), both presentations part of the two-day CERN Live event at St Wulfram’s Church.

Listen perhaps to Dr Phil Brohan in his ‘New Uses for Old Weather’ a fascinating quest scouring ships logs of the past, including Arctic observations and United States ships’ logs since the mid 19th century (Wednesday, King’s School, 11am).

And how does nature get its colours? Join Professor Peter Vukusic at Grantham’s Guildhall on Thursday at 5.15pm to hear recent discoveries on how brightly coloured creatures manage such visual magic.

** A 56-page festival souvenir brochure has gone on sale at outlets around the town.

The brochure, costing £2.50, is a lavishly illustrated guide to the festival with additional information on key presentation and speakers.

The guide lists all exhibitions from Wednesday to Saturday. Available from the Guildhall, St Wulfram’s Church, Belton House, Cussell’s Jewellers, Graves Jewellers, Grantham Museum and Great Gonerby Post Office.