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Nerdland 2024: Beer tent, insect city and Aquariums full of aquatic animals

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At the end of May, the Flemish stand-up comedian and science communicator Lieven Scheire will visit his own festival Nerdland for three days.

“Lots of tents, different sets – one slightly bigger than the other – an insect city and a section with a few aquariums full of local aquatic animals. And don’t forget the beer tent with local brewers who explain fermentation, the brewing process and… food pairing.’ According to Lieven Scheire, that’s exactly what Nerdland Festival contains in a nutshell. Let’s immediately add: “Only with scientists, because no band is going to perform.”

Nerdland Festival was born from the science festival The Sound of Science, which Hetty Helsmoortel has organized annually together with Toon Verlinden since 2018. ‘He was in my room Nerdlandpodcast and said he was organizing a science festival. And would I like to participate? I took it as a rhetorical question, said yes, and then spent the entire weekend presenting, interviewing researchers, and more. During Covid, the idea of ​​joining forces and combining our Nerdland and Sound of Science activities for this festival was born. The rest is history.’


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The upcoming edition is now the sixth!

“The third Nerdland, and with Sound of Science it’s really the sixth festival. And it’s going to be fun again. We now have a few shows in English, e.g. No such thing as fish, who will record their podcast live with us. Simon Watt is coming along The Ugly Animal Protection Association and together we choose the ugliest animal in Belgium. It’s election time, so it can’t be a politician. In the coming years, I want to add more English-speaking scientists to the program, so that you can always watch an English-language show throughout the festival.

Is Nerdland Festival Science Rock Werchter?

“It’s not so much the atmosphere main stage About Werchter, but more about orchard hammocks. It’s quiet there and you can walk back and forth between small shows.

Last year, after the Nerdland festival, a cleaning crew visited the place to clean up the mess. After a weekend of 20,000 visitors, they had collected half a bag of trash. The site’s owner inquired the following Monday if the festival had gone ahead since there was no damage in the area. So that’s our audience.

Flemish science comedian Lieven Scheire. Photo: Wannes Nimmegeers.

If you look at yourself, you’re not only the poster boy for Nerdland, but also a comedian, author, TV personality, and more. Which jacket suits you best?

‘It is very difficult. I have my stage tour now and purely selfishly I would choose that, especially right after a good show. That higha feeling you won’t find anywhere else. But after a while it starts to bother me, and on TV I can explain something to a much larger audience again. Nice. Now we are working on a festival and it is also unique. This also applies to the podcast. In the end, I’m very happy with the bouquet, where all the functions come together and connect with each other.

The podcast is a big hit.

“Hetty, Jeroen and I sometimes get to explain science on radio and TV in Belgium. But in short, without time to talk about the fine details. This gave rise to the idea of ​​creating, as it were, our own corner where we can discuss things in depth. The way football is talked about in a football podcast. It’s not just about what happened during the match and what the rules are, but also about how we experienced it.

The original intent was really to appeal to a niche audience, but a lot more people are listening. Someone spoke to me recently and said: I don’t like science, but I like to listen.

There is finally life after Nerdland. On August 18, you’ll be at Lowlands Science with New Scientist Live at the Lowlands Festival.

– I can finally organize a big festival. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s about the limits of humor, and that’s a difficult subject. Because then you’re talking about sensitivity and antennas. Thirty years ago, as a stand-up comedian, you could joke about anything – another population group or the opposite sex. That is no longer possible. This is a development I’m not going to comment on right away because I need to think about what exactly I’m thinking. But the chance to walk behind the scenes at the Lowlands is great. It feels a bit like rock ‘n’ roll.

Nerdland Festival will take place on May 24, 25 and 26, 2024. You can find all the information and tickets on the website.

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