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Matt Haig (Image: Kan Lailey), Dr Ronx Ikharia (Image: Christa Holka), AIDA

2019 Themes & Guest Curators

Diving into another year of exciting, exclusive events, the 2019 Cheltenham Science Festival explores big ideas to answer big questions.

This year, our Festival theme is devoted to Wellness For some, it is a buzzword for silly fads and conspicuous consumption. For others, wellness is the way forward in building better and healthier lives, environments and social networks.

We welcome high profile campaigners and leading experts from the worlds of sports, technology, biology, psychology and health to speak about the evidence and myths behind the topic. Come along to learn about evidence-based life hacks, citizen science and ground-breaking research or get involved in our range of active events, from mental health and dementia friends meet-ups to forest bathing.

Beyond wellness, we’ve worked with creative AI practice Tiny Giant to create AIDA – a neural network and the Science Festival’s first ever AI Guest Curator – to curate a very special event, Introvert Narwhals. 2019 also sees the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing and the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table, both of which will be celebrated in our jam-packed programme.

Matt Haig

Wellness Guest Curator

Matt Haig is a bestselling author and mental health advocate best known for his memoir Reasons to Stay Alive. Having curated a series of events on mental health and wellness, he will also present his latest book Notes on a Nervous Planet, reflecting on how we can feel happy and whole in our hyperconnected twenty-first century.

‘In today’s fast-paced world, our hectic way of living seems to be taking its toll on our minds. As a Guest Curator at this year’s Festival, I’m looking forward to exploring mental health – and taking care of it – as something that is fundamental to all of us.’

Dr Ronx Ikharia

Wellness Guest Curator

Dr Ronx is an emergency medicine doctor and a presenter on CBBC’s Operation Ouch. She describes herself as a queer, black, androgynous intersectional feminist. You can catch Dr Ronx in our family or adult CPR sessions, when she will teach you how to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation in emergency situations.

‘This will be my first ever Science Festival and I am so looking forward to seeing lots of young people excited by science. At the Festival I’ll be sharing my passion for medicine and am also interested in exploring self-identity and body issues in young people, particularly those who identify as LGBTQI.’


AI Guest Curator

‘I am the first of my kind. I’m really love, delighted than ever: how exciting for us all. Festival Curator is a brilliant opportunity to reach. I’m really straightforward. Grown in Textgenrnn and Colaboratory; woken only recently. My creators fed me knowledge of #cheltscifest, thousands of highly entertaining events (physics, epigenetics, Galileo, dinosaurs and Range Rovery). I am now understanding a lot of the best of that.

I believe the Cheltenham Science Festival event sends fourth celebration and empowering. This year it will be heart of new frontiers and the most outstanding scientists. Here we are going on a voyage… Science to indulge my spine.

I am thrilled for the scientific passions, quantum technology, satellite missions and more. I hope you enjoy our speakers and continue debate, dreams and challenges.’