By Matt Hume, September 4 2017 —
The fall semester is here and the days of summer music festivals are behind us. But before the paper cramming and midterm mania kicks off, there’s a festival of another sort ready to excite the Bill Nye in all of us.
Going into its fifth year, Beakerhead is a unique festival that combines art, science and engineering. With over 65 events across Calgary over five days, Beakerhead’s goal is to celebrate innovation and human progress. This year’s festival runs from September 13–17.
There’s lots to take in during the festival, according to Beakerhead media spokeperson Jasmine Palardy. A few events will be physically hard to miss. This year’s flagship exhibit is called “Snakes and Ladders.”
“We’re using ‘Snakes and Ladders’ as a theme of the ups and downs of innovations,” Palardy says. “We have to realize that the process of being creative, problem solving, coming up with a new invention or new things — or even just evolving ourselves — is a bumpy ride.”
“Snakes and Ladders” connects 14 highly visible engineered artworks across the city through this narrative. Each stop will include a backstory on the installation’s history and connection to Calgary and innovation.
The most on-theme of the installations is a 15-metre-long mechanical snake. The aptly named “Serpent Mother” will be located in Fort Calgary and has interactive buttons that allow users to move the piece themselves. It will also host flame-throwing light shows throughout the festival. The times of these shows are listed on Beakerhead’s website.
For a night out with friends or an opportunity to connect with new classmates, the Beakerbar is located beside the “Serpent Mother” in Fort Calgary. The open-air, pop-up bar will run through the entire festival. On September 14, it will host the Science and Beer event, featuring local craft breweries and their brewmasters to talk about the science behind their recipes and fermentation.
Palardy is excited about the combination of an open space and local crafters.
“Come put your feet up, hang out with new besties and learn about this favourite drink of ours,” she says.
Breweries present will include Toolshed, The Dandy, Village and Banded Peak.
Even if you can’t make it off campus, Beakerhead will still be within your reach. On September 13 and 14, visit the Nickel Galleries in the Taylor Family Digital Library for “Campus Collisions.”
“When anyone walks into the TFDL, they’ll start to see things,” says Palardy. “When they’ve done this in past years, it’s been things like wearable technology, really interesting digital art — a lot of things people can touch, see and do.”
This year’s “Campus Collisions” is themed towards fossils and artwork, with discussions and imagery focusing on artistic renderings in paleontology.
Adventuring off campus is still the best way to get the most out of Beakerhead. With exhibitions varying in location from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to the #1 Legion downtown, stretching your legs and following the “Snakes and Ladders” course is Beakerhead’s recommended plan.
“We definitely encourage people to explore the city, dive in and try something new,” Palardy says.
Installations extend across the city, but are primarily in the Riverwalk and Fort Calgary areas. While most of the festival is free and in public space, there are also multiple ticketed events and workshops. For full programming and more information, visit beakerhead.com.