Fancy taking part in The Hungry Games? Or perhaps you’d dare to ‘gulp’ down some Ghost Chilli?

All of these culinary experiences and much more are on the menu at the Northern Ireland Science Festival, returning for a second year this month.

As 2016 has been designated as Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink, the brain-bending festival is getting in on the act by dishing up five specially-organised events. Festival-goers are guaranteed some ‘food for thought’ with tempting gastronomy-focused events to give Northern Ireland a taste of what the future of eating and drinking looks like.

1. Gulp

Among the events is ‘Gulp! The Science of Food’ at the Crescent Arts Centre, where award-winning science broadcaster Jonathan McCrea and ‘geek chef’ Ivan Varian will look at the science and culture of how we enjoy food and will also take a glimpse into the future diets of 2050.

Science 2

A nine-course on-stage banquet will help display how our eyes and nose deceive us and to how our genetics help us to taste. On the menu will be waterbugs, pig brains, 100-year-old eggs, raw lemons, dry Ice cream and ‘Ghost Chili’ flavoured chocolate for dessert – definitely a meal you’ll never forget. The event takes place on Saturday February 28.

2. Hungry?

Meanwhile, St George’s Market will play host to ‘The Hungry Games’. While Katniss Everdeen will not be in attendance, there will be live cooking demos, hands-on activities, games, quizzes and more, to find how healthy diets can be good for both us and our planet.

Hungry Games

NI Science Festival Director Chris McCreery said: “2016 has been designated the Year of Food and we’re playing our part in celebrating gastronomy and the excellence of our great local produce. Our aim is to open up the wonders of science to the widest possible audience and offer festival-goers some real food for thought!”

3. Bake Off

Other events include ‘The Great Science Bake Off’ in the Dark Horse on Tuesday February 23, which invites keen cooks to bring along a science-themed cake – or simply listen to Triona O’Connell of Dublin City University talk about the science of baking.

Back Off

4. Out Of Date Food

What They Ate!’ at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Paleoecology at Queen’s University in Belfast, is a family friendly event looking at the diets of the past, encouraging young people to find out which of our ancestors was hunting and gathering wild foods, and who was farming. This event takes place on Saturday February 27.


5. Banging Dessert

And in Derry on the same date, ‘The Experimental Kitchen’ in Ebrington Square will open the door to the science of food and teach some neat cooking tricks on the way with the ‘Exploding Custard!’ event. This project will look at experiments with thickening, fixing, gelling and molecular cooking – employing techniques such as air and foam. Experiments on multi-sensory cooking, including sounds of food and other experiments, will show that the appreciation of food is determined by the breadth of information sent to the brain.


The Northern Ireland Science Festival, a showcase for the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, runs from February 18 -28 with the return of the Northern Ireland Science Festival. Last year’s inaugural festival incorporated more than 100 events across the country, drawing in more than 50,000 attendees.

Backed by the Department of Employment and Learning, Belfast City Council, Ulster University, Queen’s University, the Department for Social Development, the British Council and MCS Group, the 2016 event promises to be bigger and better.

The programme will once bring together the very best of local and international talent across all things STEM-related. For further information about the Northern Ireland Science Festival and ticketing log on to or via Twitter @niscifest

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