Town sets the scene for 20th DarwIN Shrewsbury Festival

Organisers are gearing up to mark the 20th anniversary of the DarwIN Shrewsbury Festival - an annual event during the month of February to celebrate the life, work and legacy of the town's most famous son.

Many of the Festival’s events are planned for the week leading up Charles Darwin’s birthday on the February12th, although there are also a number of events to look forward to before and after the main nine-day celebration.

This year’s programme features lectures, talks, exhibitions and guided tours, including the rare opportunity to visit Darwin’s childhood garden – and the ‘thinking path’ walked by the young Charles Darwin every morning which played a major role in the formation of his thoughts on evolution.

There will be the annual birthday toast at the Bellstone which people are invited to join, the Darwin Memorial Lecture and guided tours of Darwin’s birthplace – The Mount (known now as Darwin House) organised by John Hughes, Darwin House Museum Project Manager at Shropshire Council.

Mr Hughes said: “Preparations have gone well and we are now eagerly anticipating the DarwIN Shrewsbury Festival’s 20th anniversary. It promises to be a truly memorable occasion with more than 30 individual quality events taking place.

“I would like to thank all those who have been instrumental in organising the event for their support, the various venues around Shrewsbury who will be hosting events and everyone else who has played a part in ensuring the festival can go ahead.

“The past year has been hugely important for us with the ongoing refurbishment of Darwin House and it will be wonderful to welcome people here for a number of events during the festival.

“This year’s festival actually gets under way with the launch of an exhibition which runs from January 14th to March 26th and is entitled Charles Darwin in Shrewsbury - the Making of a Marvellous Mind.

“It’s an exhibition which will accompany the launch of local author Jon King’s book by the same name, focussing on Darwin’s childhood and upbringing in Shrewsbury.

“The book signing launch takes place at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery on January 18th and it will be Jon who will make his now traditional toast to Darwin on the great man’s birthday on February 12th.”

Other festival highlights include: A tour of Charles Darwin’s Shrewsbury on February 4th and, the following day, an afternoon focussed on Charles Darwin’s Family - Vaughan Williams: The Man and His Music.

The event will take place in the original family dining room in Darwin House and will feature a talk about the life and music of the composer who was a great nephew of Darwin. The talk, presented by Ted Maidment, will be accompanied by John Moore on piano and Alex Postlethwaite on violin.

February 6th will see Shropshire Chamber of Commerce relaunch its 1835 Group supported by University Centre Shrewsbury; an event aimed at shaping the future of the Shropshire business landscape.

There will be an illustrated talk by Shrewsbury School’s Dr Robin Brooke-Smith on February 8th on Darwin: From Shrewsbury Schoolboy to International Scientific Superstar, guided tours of Darwin’s Garden will be held on February 8th and 11th, and, also on the 11th, there is a guided tour of Darwin’s birthplace.

The annual Darwin Memorial Lecture takes place on February 12th when Dr Jude Piesse, a lecturer in English literature at Liverpool’s John Moores University will examine Darwin’s family garden at The Mount and its impact on Darwin’s life, and work - experiences which were the catalyst for his world-changing discoveries.

A full programme of over 30 events throughout the month of February can be found at: https://darwin.originalshrewsbury.co.uk

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