NI Science Festival 2024

NI Science Festival on Rathlin

Experience the NI Science Festival on beautiful, secluded Rathlin Island!

Most events are open to all age groups, and Rathlin residents attend for free unless stated otherwise.

Please contact with any questions.

Make sure to book ferry tickets in advance to avoid disappointment (please note the last ferries leave the island at 16:30, and that not all ferries accept luggage).

Enjoy your visit!

CANCELLED Adults event - The Murder at the End of the Universe…


Thursday 15 February, 18:30

Manor House

Kick off the NI Science Festival with an out-of-this-world, Star Wars-themed Murder Mystery Dinner Party!

Don't be afraid of the dark - discover the joy of the night sky

Thursday 15 February, 18:30-20:30

St Thomas’ Church

In this journey through the night sky, photographer Alistair Hamill shares stories and images from his nocturnal adventures.

Exhibition of the aurora borealis

Friday 16 February, all day

St Thomas’ Church

See the night sky brought to life through the work of of Alistair Hamill, a specialist in all forms of astro-photography.

Rathlin's Rocks - a walking tour

Friday 16 February, 11:00

Ebb & Flow Café

Rathlin’s pebbles are mostly black and white. But why? Of what are they made? How did they form, and when? Take a walk with Dr Mike Simms to find out.

Don't go into the light - seabirds and light pollution

Friday 16th February, 12:30-13:30

Manor House

What is light pollution? How does it affect wildlife? James Crymble, LIFE Raft Conservation Scientist, takes us through a pollution that is hiding in plain sight.

Kids event - Spaceman Crafts

Friday 16 February, 12:30

Manor House

Come and join in by making space-related crafts. Have fun making your own little blow rocket, and pretend to be an astronaut as we look at the stars.

Kids event - The sea at night

Friday 16 February, 14:00-15:00

Manor House

What happens beneath our waters as the sun goes down? In this short talk Dr Jade Berman explores the stories of our sea at night including those around  of Rathlin.

Bodies and Burials

Friday 16 February, 19:00

St Thomas’ Church

We can learn a lot about people from skeletons – what diseases they had, what they ate, and why they died. Dr Eileen Murphy takes us through osteoarchaeology before digging into prehistoric Rathlin burials.

Stargazing event

Friday 16 February, 20:00

St Thomas’ – please note change of venue from West Lighthouse

Join astronomer Brendan Owens for a beginner’s guide of the night sky away from the light pollution of the mainland.

Rathlin fun run!

Saturday 17 February, 8:30

McCuaig’s pub car park

Get those endorphins going with a 5k down to the Rue Lighthouse and back. A great way to see more of Rathlin and work up an appetite before breakfast at the Ebb and Flow Café! All abilities welcome.

Breakfast special

Saturday 17 February, 9:30

Ebb and Flow Café

Swing by for a tasty breakfast before hitting the ground running for a full day of science!

Mindfulness Yoga

Saturday 17 February, 11:00

Manor House

Join us for a serene, mindful yoga session with Sarah Harding – all abilities welcome.

Kids event - STEM storytelling

Saturday 17 February, 11:00


A science-themed story time for children. Thank you to the Tourism Team for their support in facilitating the events at Rathlin Boathouse Visitors Centre!

Kids event - potty about prehistoric pots

Saturday 17 February, 14:00

Manor House

Make and decorate a pot while finding out about prehistoric pottery in Ireland and Early Bronze Age pots found on Rathlin with Dr Eileen Murphy.

POSTPONED Adult event - Photography Workshop with Belfast Exposed


Saturday 17 February, 12:30

Church Bay

A practical, hands-on course taking portraits.  It will focus on using the natural light of day and night to capture outside portraits, and the lighting with the indoor natural environment to give reflection of the setting.

Stargazing experience

Saturday 17 February, 20:00

West Lighthouse

Join astronomer Brendan Owens for a beginner’s guide of the night sky away from the light pollution of the mainland.

Kids event - Step into other worlds with Alternative Reality

Monday 19 February, 11:00

Ebb and Flow Café

Parents must be present

Step into other worlds with Alternative Reality experiences from Yellow Design! These same technologies will be used by the Future-Island Island project right here on Rathlin.

Kids event - Architects of Change workshop

Monday 19 February, 13:00

Branson Centre

Jump into nature with this fun children’s workshop! With arts and crafts, team activities, and videos it’s a great way for kids to explore what nature means to them and why it’s so important to protect it.

Adult event - Super scientists on design, science and engineering - Day 1

Monday 19 February, 13:00

Manor House

These four talks covering design, science and engineering will fly through futuristic technology used by the designers behind the Future-Island Island project.

Brockley Axe Digital Twin Demo

Monday 19 February, 15:00


A neolithic axe from the Brockley axe factory on Rathlin now has a ‘digital twin’, and you can come see the creation for yourself! Thank you to the Tourism Team for their support in facilitating the events at Rathlin Boathouse Visitors Centre.

Adult event - What’s next? An update on the ground-breaking Future Island-island project

Monday 19 February, 17:30

Ebb and Flow Café

Find out about the Future Island-Island project and how it’s bringing cutting-edge design concepts to life from Professor Justin Magee.

Adult event - 3-minute Theses – a sprint through PhDs

Monday 19 February, 18:00

Ebb and Flow Café

An 80,000 word PhD thesis would take nine hours to present: their time limit is three minutes! A fun way to find out more about the research happening right on Rathlin’s doorstep.

Adult event - Opening of Future Island-Island concept design Exhibitions

Monday 19 February, 18:30

Ebb and Flow Café

See some early work from product designers and architects as they begin to tackle issues raised by the community of Rathlin.

Chippy night

Monday 19 February

McCuaig’s Bar

Beach cleaning

Tuesday 20 February, 10:00

Beach shore, meet by the public toilets

Join us on this beach clean of Rathlin – what you find may even be turned into music at the Super Scientist event later in the day!

Super scientists on design, science and engineering - day 2

Tuesday 20 February, 13:00

Manor House

Want to know how to turn wool and flax into materials? Or about biodegradable bags, music from rubbish, or how to secure clean food, energy and water?

Stirring the ideas pot - Future Island-Island early concepts

Tuesday 20 February, 14:30-16:00 (drop-in)

Manor House

A first chance to see what the designers and engineers are up to with the Future Island-Island project.

Kids event - Felting, knitting and weaving for kids

Tuesday 20 February, 17:30-18:30

Branson Centre

Parents must be present

Have your kids ever felt like felting? Been keen to knit? Or wild to weave? Well, now they have the chance to learn from the best!

Rathlin is great for science

Science is the best