Shrewsbury Darwin Festival
Darwin Festival 2009
Shropshire's Darwin Festival celebrates a special year for arguably the world's most influential scientist. Naturalist Charles Darwin was born 200 years ago, while his key work On the Origin of Species marks its 150th anniversary.
Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury on 12 February 1809 and every year his life and work is celebrated in the shape of the Darwin Festival.
Statue of Charles Darwin in Shrewsbury
This year's bicentenary celebrations include lectures, exhibitions and concerts.
There are also several events which aim to entertain and stimulate children and the year ends in December 2009 with a firework and bonfire spectacular on 7 December at the West Midlands Showground.
Already Darwin's birthday in 2009 has been celebrated in Shrewsbury with a giant cake with 200 candles, a tea party for children sharing Darwin's birthday, and a set of new Darwin Way markers, highlighting parts of Shrewsbury which were significant in Darwin's life.
Darwin's 200th birthday cake
Darwin was born at The Mount in Shrewsbury and during his school years he developed the curiosity which proved crucial to his future as a scientist: "I was born a naturalist."
On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, although he devised the theory of natural selection in 1838 following his voyage on HMS Beagle.
During the journey he observed plants and animals all around the world. His book introduced the theories of natural selection and ultimately evolution.
The 2009 Charles Darwin Memorial Lecture on Sunday, 22 February, is the first event to take place at the new Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury. Professor Lord May from Oxford will discuss Darwin's scientific legacy and climate change.
A number of celebrities are also coming to Theatre Severn including Adam Hart Davies (19 April), Professor Heinz Wolff (5 May), Scrapheap Challenge's Dick Strawbridge (21 June), TV presenter Johnny Ball (23 September), and explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell (7 October).
Eight leading international folk artists come to the Theatre Severn in Frankwell on 19 March to perform new songs written especially for the 200th anniversary.
Shropshire's Blue Eyed Soul Company explores genealogy through contemporary dance on 17 June.
Peter Cann's, The Gene Journey - a musical voyage into the future - is premiered on 3 and 4 July.
Another world-first follows with The Weatherman by Paul Clark and John Binias, performed by Opera North on 11 July.
From 3-12 September, the Shropshire based Pentabus Theatre Company stage a premiere of a play inspired by Darwin's early years in Shrewsbury.
Meanwhile the internationally acclaimed Rambert Dance Company will present a new commission to mark Darwin's 200th anniversary from 13-16 October.
To find out more about the Darwin Festival and to see a full list of events follow the link below.
Darwin's bicentenery has inspired leading proponents of the controversial movement known as Intelligent Design to head to Shrewsbury in February. They aim to challenge the idea that random chance caused all life to come into being. The conference, entitled Honest to Darwin takes place 23-28 February at Shrewsbury Town's Prostar Stadium.
Members of Shrewsbury Evangelical Church have also set up a series of services on Sunday afternoons in February 2009, focussing on the subject of Creation. Organisers say they hope to show people that belief in God, the creator, is a better alternative to that of Darwin's theory of evolution.
last updated: 23/02/2009 at 14:36