A fantastic festival returns to Sheffield

In bed on Fargate ' a performance titled Aries and Aphrodite, part of the first Festival of the Mind in 2012
In bed on Fargate ' a performance titled Aries and Aphrodite, part of the first Festival of the Mind in 2012

A barrage of brain-boggling events is set to bombard Sheffielders young and old next month as the Festival of the Mind returns to the city centre.

Over 11 days, a variety of exhibitions, workshops, interactive sessions, talks and films will be held, many of them in a special tent in Barker’s Pool and at the old Co-op building, Castle House.

The festival was held for the first time by Sheffield University in 2012, and proved to be such a success a second programme was rapidly commissioned.

But organisers decided to delay for two years in a bid to make sure the sequel featuring some of the university’s best talent and research was bigger and better than the first.

Highlights will include a variety of instant pop-up gardens being created throughout the city centre by Chelsea gold medal winner Professor Nigel Dunnett.

Professor Dunnett, who also co-designed the 2012 Olympic meadows, will also be talking about the project in the Spiegeltent in Barker’s Pool on September 21.

The same venue will hold a mind-reading challenge over the same weekend, pitting man against machine.

A professional mind reader will be showing off his skills against new magnetic resonance imaging technology to see who gets the best results.

Refereeing will be Dr Aneurin Kennerly, a research fellow with a professional interest in neuro-imaging and a personal interest in mentalism – the fusion of science and magic.

Castle House will host You’ve Got a Nerve! – an interactive installation showing how nerves respond to injury – and how they recover.

The attraction will use animation, UV lighting and 3D printing and is a collaboration between neuroscience professor Fiona Boissonade, artist Cassie Limb and animator Mike Futcher.

All-out entertainment will be the name of the game at Cabaret Boom Boom in Barker’s Pool on September 19 where the group’s 100th show will feature comic violin virtuoso Sid Bowfin, escapologist extraordinaire Gareth Jones plus daring beer balancer Matt Barnard.

And the film programme includes a special screening of Codebreaker, a drama-documentary about maverick genius Alan Turing whose work saved millions of lives in World War II.