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Festival of Wonder

festival of wonder logo

The University of Surrey celebrated 50 years in Guildford this year.

We were the official radio partner which means Karl Stiles and Morning Matt  broadcasted live on the day.

We also provided up-to-date traffic and travel information on the day and help entertain you while you were there!

The programme was jam-packed with music, comedy and dance performances, talks, sports activities, hands-on workshops, and science and technology exhibits. 

Plus, local food stalls, a kids’ zone, and the chance to try out your clinical skills and meet the animals at the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Family eating ice cream in the sun at the festival

See what's featuring in this year's festival ¦ Who's Who at the Festival

¦ Getting to and parking at the event ¦ Official Radio Partner ¦ Not Registered?


Please note that the university will not be able to accept any unregistered guests on the day.

The good news that demonstrations and talks will be live-streamed on the day via the University of Surrey's website.


Years of Wonder featured in this year's Festival

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was the University of Surrey.

The Festival of Wonder was about showcasing the incredible local projects and getting together with the local community to celebrate all things wonderful.

Download the Festival of Wonder: full brochure (pdf)

Here's a guide to the events you could see on the day...


Surrey Alumni, Sir Alec Issignois, designs the first signature Mini Cooper, one of the most successful and iconic British cars.

There will be an original mini at the Festival and the chance to win great prizes as part of the 50th-anniversary special.

mini cooper - old filter


The first commemorative tree, coastal redwood sequoia sempervirens, is planted at the University.

This was the start to the University’s arboretum, now home to a 1600 strong collection of rare, international breeds which you can enjoy as you stroll around the campus at the Festival.


 “Free Fest” opens for its first year as a way of bringing the university together with the local community and its new home in Guildford.

Now known as the “Festival of Wonder”, 2017 celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the University.


Guest Speaker, Sir Martin Sweeting, begins his research into experimental small satellites with a team at the university.

Festival of Wonder - Space satellites


Sir Martin founded the SSTL, a spin-off University company that researching space satellite hardware which is said to have spurred the UK's success in satellite technology.

The SSTL has now grown to 500 staff with an annual turnover of £100 million and are recognised as a world-leader in small satellite technology.

These satellites quite literally change the way we see the world.

Join Martin’s talk on at 2.30pm on Sunday in the Austin Pearce Building.


The School of Veterinary Medicine is co-founded by guest speaker, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, better known as television's Supervet.

Noel shares his story and dream of animal healthcare in the Wonder Talks at the Festival.

You can put your skills to the test at the new School of Veterinary Medicine’s family activities, games and challenges.

Festival of Wonder - Vet


The Guildford School of Acting (GSA) joins the University on campus and has contributed their talented alumni to shows such as London’s Les Miserables and Evita.

See “In Conversation” with the school’s alumni: Emma Barton (EastEnders) and Ian Kelsey (Coronation Street) at the Festival.


Surrey Graduate and Festival speaker, Margaret Adeoye, makes her Olympic debut in the 200m sprint.

The Festival will have a celebrity sport panel including former British coach, Sir Ian McGeechan OBE and Adeoye herself.

The Sports Park will also be hosting masterclasses from Surrey Storm, coaching from the Scorchers Basketball stars and family activities and taster sessions.

Surrey Scorchers' game and mascot


Surrey’s research into Vitamin D informs Public Health England and the nation’s new nutritional guidelines.

Get personal guidance and health advice in the Festival’s “Wonder Talk” on the secret of sunshine.


The Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication is awarded to Surrey Professor, Jim Al-Khalili OBE who will be joined by Brian Blessed and TV Science Explorer, Mark Evans.

To see the special “Jim Meets…” presentations, please book in advance via the Festival’s website.


Join in at this year’s Festival of Wonder and celebrate with us.

stage at the festival of wonder

Who's Who on the day

Here's a sneak peak of some of the guest speakers at the Festival.

From Brian Blessed to television's Supervet, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, you're in for a treat...

Brian Blessed

brian blessed at Festival of Wonder

Joining the Festival is none other than Brian Blessed as the guest of honour for the University’s 50th Anniversary Birthday Party.

Now a Surrey resident, Brian is well known locally for his patronage of the Guildford Shakespeare Company.

Professor Noel Fitzpatrick

noel fitzpatrick at Festival of Wonder; ITV Super Vet

Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, The Supervet, Founder of Fitzpatrick Referrals and the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Be inspired by his story, from his home in Ireland to becoming a highly respected orthopaedic veterinary surgeon and now TV success.

Emma Barton

emma barton at festival of wonder; eastenders

Emma graduated 1998 and is most notable for her role as Honey Mitchell, part of the infamous Mitchell family, in EastEnders.

She has also enjoyed a varied career surrounding this role with stage work including London’s West End, The RSC and several National Tours.

Mark Evans

mark evans at festival of wonder

As a TV presenter, vet, science explorer and petrol head, Mark enjoys an unusual but exciting career!

Hear more about his extraordinary life and work, including the making of some of the most revolutionary nature programmes, such as the BAFTA winning Inside Nature’s Giants and Bigfoot Files.

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE

Maggie Aderin Pocock guest speaker at Festival of Wonder

CBBC star and multi-award winning physicist, space scientist and science educator Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE takes you on an exciting journey to explore the wonders of our galaxy.  

Join her to blast off into space and find out more about the planets and stars that make up our universe. 

Sir Martin Sweeting

Sir-Martin-Sweeting- 900x500

Sir Martin Sweeting, OBE, the founding father of small satellites, tells the story of his extraordinary vision and shares some of the amazing, inspiring and beautiful pictures taken from space.

Together with his company, the SSTL, he has helped to shape the world we live in today. 

Not registered?

Due to high demand, registration has now closed.

The event was held on May 13th 2017. You can find the filmed lectures on the University's website.

Stream the Festival of Wonder live

And that's not all - keep an eye on the University's website for the next latest and greatest events on campus and around Guildford.

Such as the special 50th Anniversary event at the Yvonne Arnaud in July with the talented GSA singers.

If you're concerned about travel on the day and won't be joining us, you can stay up-to-date on the travel pages and by listening on air.


Traffic and Travel

The Festival organisers encouraged guests to walk or use public transport, where possible, to get to the Festival of Wonder.

man in traffic jam car

Getting there:

The University is just a short walk from Guildford Train Station and there are regular buses from the town centre to the campus. http://www.surrey.ac.uk/visit-university

This includes the recommended route via the Park and Ride service. We recommend that you use public transport to travel to Guildford and the University instead of coming by car.

If you are using a sat nav, the postcode for the Stag Hill campus is GU2 7JP.

Getting around the Festival:

Once you are at the Festival there will be free transport between the two sites. 


Festival of Wonder Official Parking Guide (pdf)

Parking will be available, on a first come, first served, basis at the Stag Hill campus and, of course, there are a number of public car parks nearby. 

We have a very limited amount of Festival parking on our sites and expect our car parks to be full soon after opening. Off-road parking around the campus are also likely to be very busy.

We recommend using Guildford Park Car Park (GU2 7NF), Farnham Road Car Park (GU2 7NP) or the Bedford Road Car Park (GU1 4SJ) as public overflow car parks. Please note that council car parking charges will apply here.

Traffic on the day:

You can always stay up to date via our Travel Pages with the latest news on accidents, traffic and road closures.

Or listen on air for the latest updates throughout the day.

 Parked cars