The Quarry became a sea of Charles Darwins on Saturday as participants of the weekly Shrewsbury Parkrun donned Darwin masks to mark the beginning of the DarwIN Shrewsbury Festival.
The festival was officially launched on Friday with the final of the Shropshire Young Thinkers Competition, organised by Morris & Company and University Centre Shrewsbury, where youngsters had been challenged to highlight the link between Shrewsbury and Charles Darwin in 2020 by designing an emblem.
An exhibition of the finalists will run throughout the festival at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, and the winning design will feature on flags flying in front of the University Centre Shrewsbury building and on top of Morris & Company.
It will also be displayed as wall art on the University campus and available on T-shirts.
Other highlights of the festival include the chance to get up close and personal with two first-edition copies of the ground-breaking On the Origin of Species at Shrewsbury School on Wednesday, including one signed by Darwin and given to his friend, the biologist Richard Owen, who later became one of Darwin’s most out-spoken critics.
Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, which coordinates the festival, said: “We are delighted to have such an interesting range of activities and discussions, run by a variety of organisations and volunteers, taking place this year.
“From creating your own ceramic beetle in The Hive, to an evening of music inspired by Darwin’s life in St Alkmund’s Church, we feel there is something for everyone at this year’s festival.”
Festival founder, Jon King, will lead a toast to Charles Darwin on his birthday, at 12pm on Wednesday, at The Bellstone, before embarking on a tour of the town to discover more about the childhood influences that turned a curious schoolboy into a world-class naturalist.
Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery is throwing its doors open for free on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as a special arrangement for the festival, and is arranging Darwin guided walks around the town centre on Friday and Saturday.
Manager Fay Bailey said: “Shrewsbury is quite rightly very proud of its links with Charles Darwin, and we are pleased to be part of the festival.
“We hope our offer of free entry will encourage people who may never have been to the museum before to come and explore the amazing exhibitions and collections we have here.”
For a full list of events visit originalshrewsbury.co.uk/darwin