The 21st DarwIN Shrewsbury Festival
As the birthplace of Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury has a unique connection to one of history's most transformative scientific figures. Every February, businesses, museums and individuals throughout the town come together to celebrate the father of evolution's place in our town's history with the DarwIN Shrewsbury Festival.
Running throughout the month of February, the 2024 edition of the festival promises around forty unique events that pay homage to Darwin's life, work, and enduring influence on our understanding of the natural world.
In a time when the importance of science and fostering our connection with our ecosystem has never been more apparent, the DarwIN Shrewsbury Festival offers a chance to explore and engage with Darwin's legacy.
This year’s diverse programme offers activities for everyone from science enthusiasts to history buffs, young scientists, little artists, and educators looking to encourage an interest in local history or the natural world.
Kicking things off
Shrewsbury’s Park Runners will kick off the 21st DarwIN Shrewsbury Festival with a Darwin-themed Park Run on February 3.
Why not come down to the Quarry Park to support them and cheer them on?
Walk in Darwin’s footsteps
Members of the public will have the opportunity to explore Darwin’s local connections by walking in his footsteps on a series of guided tours, along with lectures and talks delving into his formative years and ground-breaking work.
The ever-popular tours of Darwin’s childhood home and garden, and sites connected to his life and legacy within the town, will offer a rare and intimate glimpse into the early environment that shaped Darwin's curiosity and intellectual development.
Be inspired by a programme of talks and exhibitions
A series of events throughout the DarwIN Shrewsbury Festival have been planned that highlight Charles Darwin's impact on various scientific and cultural fields.
On February 10, a Symposium at Darwin House will explore the fascinating life of Susannah Darwin, nee Wedgwood, often silenced, anonymised and referred to only as ‘Darwin’s mother.’ This unique, free event is an opportunity to discover more about Susannah’s life, including her experiences of motherhood, her guiding influence on the young Charles, and her contribution to the Darwin family home, business interests, and garden.
One of the festival's most anticipated events is the annual Darwin Memorial Lecture, on February 11 at The Walker Theatre, Theatre Severn. Dr Isabelle Winder, a notable figure in the field of Natural Sciences from Bangor University, will lead this year's lecture. Her talk promises to bring a contemporary perspective to Darwin's work, linking his foundational theories with modern scientific inquiry into primate evolution.
On Darwin’s 215th birthday, on February 12, the annual Darwin Birthday Toast will be held at the Bellstone in Morris Hall Courtyard. Come along, raise a glass, and celebrate the man whose work continues to inspire curiosity and scientific inquiry to this day.
Music and history
On February 12, Andrew Bannerman will deliver a talk on the relationship between Charles Darwin and his wife Emma Darwin (nee Wedgwood), accompanied by John Bowen on piano, in the beautiful setting of Darwin House. Guests are warmly invited to join in a birthday toast to the great man with a glass of Prosecco, kindly supplied by Tanners Wine Merchants.
On February 18, speaker Ted Maidment and local pianist John Moore will deliver a musically illustrated talk examining the composer Frédéric Chopin, from whom Emma Darwin received a number of lessons. Emma was a gifted pianist and Charles greatly enjoyed listening to her play the works of Chopin in the evenings. This event will be repeated on 21 February.
For families and young explorers
Over February half term, the festival welcomes little scientists and offers an array of interactive and educational opportunities to keep your kids busy, active and engaged with the legacy of Shrewsbury’s most famous son.
Help them foster a healthy interest in science, history and nature with a programme of events including the chance to build their own miniature HMS Beagle at Shropshire Archives, build and explore with the Darwin Lego Workshop at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, and much more.
For more information
The full DarwIN Festival programme of around forty events is available below --
Darwin in Shrewsbury
To learn more about Darwin's life in Shrewsbury, read our guides