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We did it again! This is what the 6th ŚFN KATOWICE was like

Many months of preparations culminated in three festival days — a day of the Opening Gala at the Planetarium in Chorzów and two days at the International Congress Centre in Katowice. However, it was well worth the trouble to be able to experience the 6th edition of the Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE with you!

We returned to the ICC after nearly three years — we managed to hold the 4th edition of the ŚFN before the pandemic, in January 2020. In October 2021, we offered you an open-air version of the festival and, although it received plenty of positive reviews and the experience we gained back then will certainly be useful in the future, we were happy to return to the ICC. A total of 48,000 people accepted the invitation to come and join us in our festival home, and if we add the 7,000 people who followed the online broadcast, this year's ŚFN gathered an audience of 55,000 people. Thank you for being there with us!

While for the main part of the ŚFN we returned to a space we know so well (the same, but not the same, as we will discuss in a moment), we chose a new location for the inauguration, i.e. Planetarium — The Silesian Science Park in Chorzów. Opening Galas have previously been held at the Silesian Theatre (twice) and by the Rawa river, but this time, on Saturday, 3 December, we used the hospitable walls of the institution, which was reopened to visitors in June this year. The Planetarium, located in Silesia and dedicated to a star gazing programme, was the perfect space to tell the story of the transition from fossil fuels, and above all coal, to the modern space industry — we used to look underground to search for valuable raw materials, today we look up high above, believing that somewhere out there among the stars lies our future.

The programme of the Opening Gala, hosted by the Silesian Voivodeship, included both an artistic part, whose central theme was looking at the other side of the mirror, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and a scientific part, i.e. a discussion on how space exploration can contribute to improving living conditions on Earth. The debate was moderated by Łukasz Lamża, PhD, - a natural philosopher, science journalist and one of the ŚFN ambassadors, joined by Prof. Grzegorz Wrochna — President of the Polish Space Agency, Agata Daszkowska-Golec, PhD, Assoc. Prof. from the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the University of Silesia, and Prof. Mark McCaughrean — astrophysicist and science and exploration advisor at the European Space Agency (ESA).

We have already mentioned that for Sunday, 4 December, and Monday, 5 December, we returned to the original festival space, yet not the same, because, firstly, part of it was rearranged and, secondly, there were lots of new elements. The heart of the ŚFN was once again the Multifunctional Hall with the Main Stage, the City of Science Zone, the EXPO Stage and six knowledge zones (dedicated to nature, technology, science, medicine and health, the humanities and social sciences, and the arts), where you could encounter science at dozens of exhibition stands and artistic creations in several exhibitions. In the middle of the Multifunctional Hall, between the knowledge zones, the symbolic Rawa river was flowing — as a reminder of last year's edition, and also an announcement of our intention to make this river the axis of the Science Zone emerging in Katowice.

This time, the festival's special zone — the Coal Zone — was located outside the Multifunctional Hall, in the so-called Ballrooms. Never before has a special zone at the Festival been arranged on such a grand scale and in such an area — very impressive were the huge black curtains (forming a kind of corridor leading to the main part of the zone), on which hung photographs of miners ‘on duty’ and ‘in plain clothes’. The zone was designed to best show the complexity and multifaceted nature of coal, above all the fact that this element, so common in nature with an atomic number of 14, is not bad in itself — we humans have made it harmful.

After the 5th ŚFN, we were very happy to be able to help dozens of people in the crisis of homelessness thanks to the then-functioning inclusion zone under the name ‘Four Corners of Homelessness’. This year, we did not abandon the 'inclusion' idea, but the space devoted to it became more theoretical — the Inclusion Stage was full of discussions and lectures devoted to this notion, but also to issues of migration, searching for and finding one's place in the world, feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Unlike in previous years, we tried to use the Auditorium to the fullest. This year, we put it under the substantive supervision of Tomasz Rożek, PhD, who arranged the programme of the I Like Science Stage for both festival days. In addition to his own lectures, one of the ŚFN ambassadors hosted a series of talks there with interesting guests, including Sławosz Uznański, PhD — a member of the new ESA astronaut class and therefore potentially the second (after Mirosław Hermaszewski) Pole in space. The news of Uznański's selection was not made public until 23 November, i.e. 10 days before the start of the Festival, but thanks to the support of the Festival's ambassadors and friends, it was possible to invite him to the 6th ŚFN KATOWICE. 

Another 'last-minute' guest was Frans Timmermans — Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the European Green Deal. On the occasion of his visit to Silesia, the Dutch politician also appeared at the ICC on Monday and answered questions from young people during a meeting entitled ‘Let's talk about Europe’. In total, this edition of the Festival featured almost 130 guests, including 15 from abroad, among them fellow Dutchmen Meta Knol and Lucien Geelhoed — both directors of Leiden European City of Science 2022 - with whom we are working closely in the lead-up to 2024 and Katowice taking on the role of the European City of Science. This year's ŚFN was the first such significant step in our preparations to hold this title. And returning to the special guests — some of them have already declared that they would be happy to return to the Festival next year!


Other guests included journalists from Radio 357 and the science portal Pulsar (linked to the weekly magazine Polityka). Representatives of both media outlets could be found on stages named 357 and Pulsar respectively. Following the example of last year's edition, some of the Sunday events on 357 Stage were also broadcast on the radio.

One of the novelties at the 6th ŚFN was also the Festivals EXPO Zone, which featured lectures, scientific shows, and stands prepared by representatives of various science festivals from all over Poland, representatives of the European Rover Challenge (one of the world's most important Mars rover competitions) and Italian guests from Trieste Next — Festival of Scientific Research. The 14 science festival organisers also participated — as part of the delegate programme — in a series of meetings with ŚFN organisers and workshops with science communicators.

The Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE is, of course, also about competitions and accompanying initiatives. For the fifth time, we handed out three awards, the Audience Award, Jury Award, and Netizen Award, in OFF Science - Review of Garage Inventions, and for the third time, we honoured the most effective science communicators with the POP Science award. Before the 6th ŚFN started, the ‘Youth for the Future of Silesia’ competition was settled, in which students submitted proposals for a school science project to one of the five festival knowledge zones (except for the Arts Zone): the authors of the ten winning projects presented the results of their efforts to the festival audience. In turn, as part of the ‘Youth Builds the City of Science’ initiative, five teams consisting of secondary school students from Silesia worked — under the substantive supervision of a doctoral student — on a solution to a problem falling within one of five areas: climate and environment; health and quality of life; industries of the future; industrial and cultural heritage; and social innovation. We borrowed the idea from the European Commission's TalentOn competition held in Leiden this year, the second edition of which we will organise in Katowice in 2024.

In addition to scientific superstars, the 6th ŚFN also attracted a music star, certainly a first rate star in Poland — the band Fisz Emade Tworzywo performed at the end of the Sunday event at the MCK for all members of the organising team, exhibitors, speakers and special guests.

A summary of this kind cannot lack statistics - so let’s the numbers speak for themselves (some of which we have already mentioned):
3 – local government entities hosted the 6th ŚFN: the City of Katowice (as host) and the Silesian Voivodeship and the GZM Metropolis (as co-hosts);

9 – higher education institutions, with the University of Silesia in Katowice as the originator and leader, as organisers;

13 – art exhibitions presented in the Art Zone and four conference rooms;

15 – ŚFN ambassadors, most recently joined by David Price and Daniel Tammet;

16 – partners who supported the festival financially;

17 – different stages included in the 6th WFN programme; after all, the two Science Stations (under the patronage of Albert Einstein and Maria Skłodowska-Curie) and the Tree of Tales were also of a similar nature;

18 – institutions which assumed honorary patronage over the 6th ŚFN;

54 – hours of broadcasts from the Main Stage, I Like Science Stage, and Coal Stage;

117 – media representatives covering the 6th ŚFN;

127 – guests and special guests;

131 – workshops in total;

181 – stands with scientific presentations available to the festival audience;

320 – volunteers active at this edition of the Festival;

325 – lectures during the 6th ŚFN;

504 – speakers who took part in this edition of the Festival;

2,174 – exhibitors presenting science at exhibition stands;

3,500 – people working at the ICC during the last edition of the festival: this number includes - in addition to exhibitors, speakers and volunteers — members of the organisational team, technical staff and security personnel;

7,000 – people watching the events on the Main Stage, I Like Science Stage, and Coal Stage via online streaming;

12,844 – students registered to enter the ICC on Monday, 5 December;

48,000 – people who visited the ICC over the two festival days, 4 and 5 December;

It is true what people say about the organisation of major annual music or film festivals: that the end of one edition is actually the beginning of the next edition. We too, are already thinking about the 7th Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE! See you next year, at a similar time!

The 6th Silesian Science Festival is organized by: the University of Silesia in Katowice (leader and initiator of the event), the City of Katowice (host city), Metropolis GZM and the Marshall Office of the Silesian Voivodeship (co-hosts), as well as the Silesian University of Technology, the Medical University of Silesia, Jan Długosz University in Częstochowa, the Częstochowa University of Technology, the University of Economics in Katowice, the Academy of Physical Education in Katowice, Bielsko-Biała University, and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Katowice.

The 6th Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE and Science Festivals EXPO are co-financed by the Ministry of Education and Science under the ‘Social responsibility of Science’ programme.

Główna grafika: 
Płachta z logotypem Śląskiego Festiwalu Nauki KATOWICE na fasadzie Spodka
Tło nagłówka: 

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