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STRONGWOMEN SCIENCE - Circus Skills & Discoveries - a new circus-science show for children and families!

10am ~ 8th & 9th May ~ Event now over

As well as the main film (button above) you can watch three short films showing you how to have fun with science, and each film is accompanied by a fun-sheet you can download to help you.

1. Using engineering to make stuff ~ FILM ~ FUNSHEET

2. Balancing Tips and Tricks ~ FILM ~ FUNSHEET

3. Custard Juggling ~ FILM ~ FUNSHEET


How can you balance a chair on your chin? Can you juggle water?

How do circus performers eat fire? 
When science meets circus, anything is possible!
StrongWomen Science is a new circus science show starring two women scientists turned circus performers. 
Aoife is an engineer and Maria an environmental scientist. Together, they will reveal the amazing science behind their astounding tricks.  
StrongWomen Science promotes enquiry, inventiveness, teamwork, accessibility, and fun in science, making it open to everyone!


StrongWomen Science is a Circus250 Production.

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'Brilliant - juggling liquids for crying out loud! 'Jaw-dropping, informative and fun. Loved every minute!’
'If ever there were role models I would like my own daughter to have – the two StrongWomen would be them.'
‘Fantastic stuff! STEM to write home about!’

LIZ HYDER – on Bearmouth, in conversation

with Sara-Jane Arbury.


What was life like for children working in mines in the oft-glamorised Victorian era? What is the role of rebellion in fiction? Why now more than ever is it important to have strong characters in stories who aren’t afraid to ask questions? And can one young person really start a revolution? 
Bearmouth tells a brilliant, gripping, and uplifting story of rebellion, hope, and friendship. It was the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Readers 2020 and the Branford Boase Award. 
Its author, Liz Hyder, is a writer, creative workshop leader, and works in broadcasting, publishing, and theatre. Bearmouth is her debut novel.

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Photograph: Ashleigh Cadet

ADHARANAND FINN – on how to run, run, as far as you can. In conversation with Swindon parkrunners Sarah-Kate Tonkin, Matt Holland, and you!
Presented in association with Swindon’s Lydiard parkrun, Seven Fields parkrun, and the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature




Distance running is now one of the fastest-growing sporting activities in the world. Why? Is it a symptom of a modern ailment or a healthy antidote to modern life?
Author of Running with the Kenyans, newspaper journalist, and distant runner Adharanand Finn travelled to the heart of the sport to find out. His journey took him from the deserts of Oman to the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies, and on to his ultimate goal, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Now, he has made it to Swindon!

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Photograph: Marietta d’Erlanger

ZOOM BOOM GAMES – with Darine Flanagan.

12midday ~ Event now over

We all love playing games together in a big sunny field but, at the moment, that’s not really possible.
But Zoom Boom Games are possible, live, but online. They are brilliant; they are fun; and you can only do them on Zoom. Did you know that? 
If you didn't, come along and find out what they're like. If you already knew, tell your friends, and we’ll see you all on Zoom, at 12 midday on Sunday. Book early!
Suitable for ages 6 – 12. Best done on computer, with camera, not phone.
Darine Flanagan is a circus performer from across the sea in Ireland. She has been playing games all her life and now that she is grown up, still gets to play . . . by running games sessions, with you. Isn’t that great!

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SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART – a poetry-writing workshop, with Sara-Jane Arbury.

2pm ~ Event now over

A poetry-writing workshop that will explore the making of ekphrastic poems, inspired by visual art.
Focusing on the work of four visual artists who have profoundly suffered for their art in different ways, either in the making of their artwork or the final completed pieces, this workshop for adults will invite participants to write their own responses to the art and suffering we encounter. 
Be prepared for an eye-opening exploration into a fascinating subject that travels to the borders of disbelief. 
Sara-Jane will screen share images in this live online workshop – so please try to have a device that can support this. The workshop is suitable for all levels, from beginners to more experienced writers.
A writer, performer, and workshop facilitator, who has worked with the BBC, OUP, Bloodaxe Books, and the Poetry Society, Sara-Jane Arbury has a long and fruitful association with the Swindon Festival of Literature.

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Most events are FREE to view at the advertised times!
But the Festival needs your help, to survive this year and return next.
Suggested minimum donation: £5 per event. Thank you!

CLAUDIA HAMMOND – on The Art of Rest.


What is rest? How do we rest best? Why is there ‘no rest for the wicked’? What is not rest? Why do we need rest? Is rest best? Do we really rest when we sleep? What’s the difference? Any other questions before we go for a rest?    
Much of value has been written about sleep, but rest is different. Rest is how we unwind, calm our minds, and recharge our bodies. 
Broadcaster, award-winning writer, Professor of Psychology, and author of The Art of Rest, Claudia Hammond reveals how we get real rest and how it is directly linked to our sense of wellbeing. Counting down through the top ten most restful activities, Claudia explains precisely why rest matters; looks at the science that shows what really works; and offers a roadmap for a new, more restful and balanced life. 

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Photograph: iBRODIEfoto

WHERE MAGIC HIDES – a fizzy ideas workshop for families with Cat Weatherill.

6pm ~ Event now over

Where do ideas come from? Join Cat Weatherill, the best-selling author of Dream Adventures and Where Magic Hides, from her 400 year old story cottage and let the magic begin!
A great chance for grown-ups to work with children, generating story ideas from images and games. There will be opportunities to ask Cat questions too. Pens and paper will be needed. Suitable for ages 8 and over.

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RICHARD THOMPSON – on Beeswing: Fairport, Folk Rock, and finding his voice. 

In conversation with Sarah Yaseen, Linda Lee, and Matt Holland. 

7pm ~ £5 

In the late sixties, popular music was reflecting a wide range of influences. In the midst of this musical awakening, an eighteen-year-old guitarist co-founded legendary folk rock group Fairport Convention and helped them to invent a new genre of music.
Named by Rolling Stone as one of the top twenty guitarists of all time, world-renowned singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Richard Thompson, came of age at an extraordinary moment in British culture. 
It was, he said, ‘great to be in London at the centre of everything. . . . a crossroads of so many styles - Indian music and the Blues and Psychedelia together with multi-track recording. It was like going from postwar black and white to Technicolor.’
He was awarded an OBE in 2011, is the recipient of an Ivor Novello Award, and has received lifetime achievement awards for songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic.
His newly-published autobiography,  Beeswing: Fairport, Folk Rock, and Finding My Voice 1967 – 75, goes back to Richard Thompson’s childhood and reflects on his heady period of personal creative intensity, his ‘intense and fertile’ time, which also led to a spiritual crisis both personal and cultural. He details life on the road, his relationship with bandmate Sandy Denny, what it was like playing alongside Jimi Hendrix and Nick Drake, a devastating car crash, his partnership with his ex-wife Linda, and his personal spiritual journey from esoteric bookshops to extraordinary meetings with saints in Morocco to his conversion to Sufi mysticism. It tells how he wrote some of the ‘saddest and most emotionally resonant’ songs in pop-music history.
Richard Thompson continues to write and record new material and frequently performs live at venues throughout the world.
‘Thompson could be said to be an English Dylan – only in some ways, he's even better than that.’

the Guardian

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Festival Finale - where the Festival ends!

SARAH YASEEN – with music, stories, and more music. 


Gesi Belgari is a traditional Turkish song, about a woman crying for her beloved, which can also be interpreted, as it is here, by Rafiki Jazz band, as a lament for the preservation of mother earth.
Hukus Bukus is a song of ancient Kashmiri folklore, discovered as a result of an ancestral search. 
Nduggu Bouy, sung in the Fula language, addresses the desertification of the Sahel region in West Africa. Nduggu means dust. 
Sufi-soul singer Sarah Yaseen learnt a cappella vocal technique from her father, the late Sufi Mohammed Yasin. She is a singer-songwriter, who sings mainly in Urdu, a language of poetry and love, but also in Punjabi, Arabic, and English. Sarah also accompanies herself on acoustic guitar, the ektara, a single-string drone lute, and the darbuka, an Arabic goblet drum. She is a lead singer with the Womad favourites Rafiki Jazz; and is also a regular guest singer with Denmark’s all-women ensemble Radiant Arcadia.

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Photograph: Tanya Weekes

L’Appel du Vide – performed by Aimee Bennett and Rowen K, and filmed by Rowan Virgo. 


An insightful, moving, and creatively unsettling circus theatre performance that combines spoken-word narrative and amazing acrobatics. It explores the call of the void, an intrusive thought or urge, an impulse to hurl yourself into danger, which, while unnerving, is actually a common experience, a precarious but mundane moment we keep to ourselves. 
Usually, it serves more as insight and warning rather than push or prompt, and is certainly key to connections between us.
Aimee Bennett, a graduate of Circomedia, now working at rural circus School of Larks, is a multidisciplinary artist, mainly in movement, text, and digital media. Rowen K specialises in hand-balancing and acrobatics, has worked with companies across the UK, and is co-founder and director of Grounded Circus.

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Round and About, in Swindon – with the Farm Yard Circus.


A landmarks tour of Swindon with members of the town’s only resident circus.
Enjoy spotting the places, the spaces, and the circus within.
Out and about with the Swindini Family! This acrobatic band, stand and deliver, beside five of Swindon's best known landmarks. 
They dive in and go full steam ahead to share their magic round about the town’s most famous locations.  
Can you spot them, in this intro?
Farm Yard Circus members on locations are juggling Jacob Hi-Ho, daring Darine Flanagan, and strongman Ben Walker. 

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Festival Finale final curtain . . . with words from its workers, and a distinctive sound.


Now, the online digital curtain comes down on this year’s Festival. 
We hope that it has provided you with plenty to enjoy; and if you have also derived from it any new, interesting, and worthwhile ideas, better still. 
If you would like to support this year’s Festival and help ensure future ones, please make a contribution here:


Thank you. Until we meet again, keep well and in touch. 
And now we end, as we began, with the mournful sound of the watering can . . .

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