Explorathon team at Whale Arts 2019
Explorathon 2019 team at WHALE Arts

The Explorathon is a series of events, taking place in the autumn of each year across Scotland to celebrate European Researchers Night. Research comes up with solutions to society’s biggest problems and challenges. The Explorathon is an extravaganza of online shows, talks, family activities, comedy, debates and much more besides.

From Oban to Glasgow, St Andrews to Edinburgh, Aberdeen to Inverness, researchers showcase the diversity of research in Scotland and highlight the impact of research on our daily lives through a large number of exciting, interactive events.

The Beltane Public Engagement Network coordinates the events in Edinburgh, and the Scottish event as a whole is led by the University of Aberdeen. In 2021, Explorathon will take place between 20-25 September, with most events online. For further information, check out the Explorathon website. If you are a researcher at a University in Edinburgh and the Lothians, and would like to get involved contact Explorathon@hw.ac.uk

Previous Explorathons


Explorathon 2019 was the biggest to date with events taking place throughout the last week in September. Over 4,000 people in Edinburgh and West Lothian attended a range of events and engaged with researchers from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh, and Queen Margaret University.

Feedback from the events was overwhelmingly positive, with an audience favourite being a family friendly show entitled Science is Magic. Performed in the largest shopping centre in West Lothian, shoppers were treated to a dazzling show full of tricks and illusions all focusing on the fundamental building block of every living thing: the cell.


On 30 September 2016, academics and researchers from across Scottish universities shared their research with the public in a diverse range of locations. In Edinburgh, we linked with Leith Labs for a of a two-day extravaganza of science demonstrations, roaming scientists and scienceart workshops.

With the City of Methodist Church, the Curiosity Forest returned, with art and research-inspired activities in a beautiful indoor woodland, and we hosted fun, interactive, creative sessions for 7-10 year olds from the community-led arts charity and social enterprise, WHALE Arts. A video of the night can be found on the Beltane website.


In 2015, the Explorathon took place across Scotland on 25 September, with RZSS Edinburgh Zoo as the flagship venue in Edinburgh, showcasing Heriot-Watt research to the public through interactive activities, talks and discovery trails.

This mini science festival offered the public a zoo-perb opportunity to learn from roar-inspiring scientists, educators and researchers. We showcased the ground-breaking scientific research being undertaken at Edinburgh’s universities, asking 'what do researchers really do and why does it matter to me?'


In Edinburgh in 2014, a myriad of activities were hosted at Our Dynamic Earth, The National Museum of Scotland, the Botanic gardens and at various cafes across the city, bringing together academics from across the Edinburgh Universities.

At Our Dynamic Earth, Heriot-Watt’s scientists from the Schools of Life Sciences and Engineering and Physical Sciences amazed and inspired around 800 adults and children. From deep sea robots and the coral reefs they help protect, to arctic exploration and glowing jellyfish that let us see inside the tiny world of living cells, the afternoon was a chance for the public to see what researchers really do and why it matters.

Key information