Robots, humans, maths and laughs – Festival of the Future 2019

Ana Matronic, Johnny Ball, Paul Mason and Phill Jupitus are among the big names appearing at this year’s Festival of the Future, which takes place at the University of Dundee and other venues throughout the city this autumn.


The University’s flagship celebration of art, culture and science will take place from October 16-20. The theme of this year’s Festival is social change, and more than 50 events featuring music, design, dance, theatre, food and comedy will explore this while engaging with audiences of all ages.


The team behind the Festival will officially launch the programme outside the University’s Tower Building at 3pm on Tuesday 3 September.


“We are delighted to launch the second edition of Festival of the Future,” said Professor John Rowan, Vice Principal (Research, Knowledge Exchange and Wider Impact) at the University. “Festival of the Future is an opportunity to celebrate and shout about great things happening in the University of Dundee and the city.


“This year, in collaboration with a range of partners including Dundee Science Festival, Dundee Contemporary Arts and Dundee Rep Theatre, we will journey to Mars, discuss robots, act as a jury, create comic strips, learn how to recycle clothes and jewellery and experience cutting-edge dance and film. We have great writers and celebrity visitors.


“Many of the events in our festival look at current issues affecting society, and our academics from a range of disciplines will lead lunchtime discussions on how we are addressing these through research and education and what we can all do together as a community. As we experience these wonderful events we might be inspired to reflect on how much can be achieved by science, art and culture coming together.”


Best known as the frontwoman of the Scissor Sisters, Ana Matronic is also a transhumanism activist. She will be part of a panel at the Festival examining how robots are shaping the world we live in, challenging prejudices around transhumanism and celebrating the potential of this technology as the boundaries blur between man and machine. Ana is also well known as the host of Radio 2’s Disco Devotion and Dance Devotion, and will perform a DJ set at V&A Dundee on Saturday 19 October.


Legendary TV presenter Johnny Ball will visit Dundee to discuss ‘The Wonder of Numbers’. Johnny has been a champion of mathematics for over 40 years, opening up the subject for a popular audience with wit and wisdom. In his talk he will introduce a host of fascinating figures from history and explain how we have come to understand shapes, numbers and patterns since ancient times.


Journalist and broadcaster Paul Mason believes there is an all-out attack on values that have underpinned Western societies for hundreds of years, eroding humanity like never before. At the Festival, he will ask if the time is right to fight for universal rights, human-centric institutions, and the right to resist control of our lives by algorithms.


Veteran stand-up and Never Mind the Buzzcocks fixture Phill Jupitus will host this year’s Festival of the Future Comedy Club. A poet and artist as well as comedian, he will compere a night of stand-up featuring fledgling comedians.


Each day of the programme will feature events aimed at children, young people and adults, debates with academics and external speakers and high-profile events featuring prestigious figures from the worlds of science and culture. Dance, theatre, music and comedy performances will also take place.


More information about Festival of the Future can be found at