Activities & Events

Conference Events

Registration & Reception

Sunday 15th December, Portsmouth Guildhall

Registration will open in the Guildhall from 4pm on the afternoon of Sunday 15th December, followed by a drinks reception in the evening, 6.30-8pm.

Public Event - Exploring the Universe of Black Holes with Gravitational Waves

Tuesday 17th December, Guildhall auditorium

The recent discovery of gravitational waves from colliding black holes has provided us with a new window onto astrophysics and cosmology. Prof Bernard Schutz (Cardiff University) will host a informative and lively discussion on Wednesday evening between 7.30pm and 9pm in the Guildhall with a panel of leading experts in the emerging field of gravitational wave astronomy: Prof Sheila Rowan, Prof Bangalore Sathyaprakash, Dr Tanja Hinderer and Dr. Laura Nuttall. Tickets are free of charge for both conference delegates and members of the public, but need to be reserved in advance as there is only a limited amount available. For more information about the event, see HERE.

Conference Dinner

Wednesday 18th December, Historic Dockyard

The conference dinner will be held on the evening of Wednesday 18th December in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, home to many famous ships of the Royal Navy, including HMS Warrior and Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory. The dinner will be held starting at 7.30pm in Boathouse 7 with a traditional English 3-course dinner including reception drinks and table wine.

IOP Gravitational Physics Group AGM

Friday 20th December, Guildhall Portsmouth Room

The Gravitational Physics Group of the Institute of Physics (IoP) will hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Portsmouth, during the Texas Symposium 2019 starting at 2pm on Friday 20th December 2019 in the Portsmouth Room of the Portsmouth Guildhall. The AGM will be followed by a drinks reception and networking, starting at 3pm. During the AGM we will outline the group’s activities in 2019 and discuss future actions. All members of the group are warmly invited and participation/registration to the Texas meeting is not necessary.


Non-members attending the Texas Symposium are also very welcome to join the AGM and the reception. It will be a good opportunity to learn about the group’s activities and network with its members.


For catering purposes, please register at HERE.

What to do around Portsmouth

There is a variety of local events and activities that you may want to attend either by yourself or in the company of other conference attendees and colleagues. In this section we present a small selection. For a more extensive list, consult the official ‘Visit Portsmouth’ website.


Parkruns are casual, free-for-all 5km runs (not races) that have become well-known events not only in England where they originate from but nowadays in many countries all over the globe. Our local run takes place at 9am every Saturday morning on Southsea esplanade, starting from Speakers Corner, next to The Briny restaurant. Free and open to all, you can register on the parkrun website and join more than 2 million runners at parkruns around the world.

Portsmouth vs Ipswich Town

Our local football club, Portsmouth F.C., is going to play against their guests from Ipswich from 3pm on Saturday 21st December at Fratton Park. Experience the passion and excitement of the English football league first hand at one of the most atmospheric grounds in the country –  Fratton Park. The University of Portsmouth are official sponsors of Portsmouth F.C. (“Pompey”). We have a limited number of free tickets available exclusively for registered participants at the Texas Symposium. email First come, first served. You can also buy tickets online – but they are likely to sell out early!

Historic Dockyard

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to three world famous historic ships, the Victory, The Warrior and the Mary Rose as well as the interactive Action Stations and the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Delegates will receive a 50% discount on full Dockyard Tickets.

Travel back in time as you come face to face with over 800 years of history. Visit the new £27 million Mary Rose Museum which provides one of the best insights into Tudor life. Climb aboard a harbour tour and view unrivalled views of Britain’s modern frigates, destroyers and helicopter carriers as well as historic buildings and world famous ships.

Gunwharf Quays

Gunwharf Quays is a modern waterfront retail & leisure complex.

It boasts an impressive range of designer outlets stores as well as a wide range of bars and restaurants, many with stunning views of the harbour.

Spinnaker Tower

Situated on the South Coast this stunning 170 metre tall Icon boasts 350˚ panoramic views.

Walk across the large glass floor 100 metres above sea level or enjoy the breath taking views from the Cafe in the clouds with a cup of tea and slice of cake.

Delegates will receive a 20% discount at Spinnaker Tower.

For further information on the Spinnaker Tower please click here.

D-Day Story

The D-Day Story is a visitor attraction located in Southsea, i.e. the southern-most part of Portsmouth. It tells the story of Operation Overlord during the Normandy D-Day landings and the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany occupation in World War 2, in which the ports around Portsmouth played a major role in.

It is told using the personal possessions and words of the people who took part. Stunning imagery, audio-visual presentations and hands-on interactives help to bring the story to life. Based on ordinary people working together to achieve the extraordinary, The D-Day Story features the experiences of men, women and children.

It just underwent a major refurbishment for the 75th anniversary of the events which added many more interesting unique exhibits.

For further information please click here.

Christmas @ Portsmouth

In the days around Christmas, Portsmouth offers many special events & activities for all ages.

Pantomime (Kings Theatre)

Traditionally performed around Christmas, with family audiences, pantomime has a long history on the British Isles (and to some extend throughout its former empire). It is a popular form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, topical references and audience participation based on a fairy tale or nursery story.

Portsmouth’s Kings Theatre is presenting “Aladdin” this year with two performances (on Monday and Thursday morning) during the conference week. For tickets and more information, please visit their official website.

The Nutcracker (New Theatre Royal)

The Nutcracker is a new musical, brought to you by the New Theatre Royal team behind Peter Pan and Beauty and the Beast. It is based on Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece of the same name.

There are multiple performances throughout the conference week (both morning and evening). For more information, see the official website.

Christmas Market (Commercial Road)

While maybe not as impressive as the much bigger Christmas markets in e.g. London or Bath, Portsmouth’s take on this festive street market of German origins still offers in its beautiful wooden cabins along Commercial Road a wide range of both little Christmas gifts as well as delicious hot food – including churros, gyros and wok-fried noodles, alongside acarvery, a German sausage grill, traditional pie and mash, sweet treats and cheeses.

This makes it a perfect place for an evening snack after a long day of conference and perhaps a mulled wine with fellow attendees.

Experiencing British Culture

British pop culture may dominate the globe, but there are a few examples of Britishness still very unique to its country of origin.

English Pubs

The Pub is a traditional part of English life. Two thirds of adults in Britain visit a pub from time to time, and half of the adult population go to the pub on a regular basis. The English pub is a place with an important social function – a meeting place, somewhere to relax, a fairly egalitarian place where people drink, talk and traditionally play games like cards or darts or even billiards. They also come in a wide variety of flavours – from the family-friendly “gastro” pub that serves traditional pub food such as Fish & Chips or Sunday roasts (see below) to quaint local pubs (aka “local”) where people from the neighbourhood come together in the evening to enjoy a pint, sometimes as generations did before them at the very same location (usually the food selection is there limited to snacks like bags of crisps or roasted peanuts). Pubs also often organise or host locale events such as pub quiz nights (see “pub quiz” below), live music performances or sometimes even scientific talks.

Both drinks and food are usually ordered at the counter and paid in advance. Once the food is ready, it is then brought to your table. There is often no table service besides that and tipping is neither common nor expected in that case. For more details about this cornerstone of British culture, see e.g. this guide and for some recommendations check the map below and the added descriptions therein.

Sunday roast

The English cuisine may not have the best reputation around the world, but the Sunday roast is one of its gems. It is a traditional British main meal that is typically served on Sunday and usually consists of roasted meat, roast potato, mash potato and accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, bread and mint sauce, vegetables and gravy. Its prominence in British culture is such that in a UK poll it was ranked second in a list of things people love about Britain and many people enjoy it weekly either at the family dinner table or in one of the many pubs serving it around lunchtime on Sundays (e.g. as part of a Sunday trip to the countryside).

To try it yourself, simply look out on Sundays for the advertisements in front of pubs and restaurants serving it.

Pub Quiz

A pub quiz is a quiz held on a specific weekday in local pubs for a small entry fee. Participants form teams to answer the questions together (internet access or other external help is usually banned) and the best team wins a prize. Although different pub quizzes can cover a range of formats and topics, they usually cover multiple round consisting of a couple of questions each. Topics can cover any trivia from pop culture over science, history and politics to sport (but questions may be a bit anglocentric). The pub quiz was originally established in the UK in the 1970s and became well-loved part of British culture since then.

As many local pub usually organize at least one pub quiz per week, it is possible to find one on any weekday. For a selection (not preference), we confirmed that the following pubs run quizzes during the conference week:

  • The Barley Mow (Monday, 8.30pm) : A round of drinks for the winning team + a chance to win the pot which can be up to £100. £1 entry
  • The Fleet (Tuesday, 8pm) : A smartphone speed quiz – includes various rounds such as music, general trivia, picture rounds etc. with a winning prize of a £50 bar tab. £1 entry
  • The Jolly Sailor (Tuesday, 8pm) : Pub quiz and curry night. Various rounds – picture and music-based. £3 entry (incl. a free curry)
  • The Eldon Arms (Wednesday, 8pm) : classic pen and paper pub quiz, 10 people per team max. £1 entry
  • The Dolphin (Thursday, 8pm) : A classic pen & paper pub quiz with the usual picture and music rounds and a different weekly theme. £1 entry
  • Guildhall Village (Thursday, 8pm) : £50 1st place prize, close to the conference venue. £1 entry
  • The Hole in the Wall (Thursday, 9pm) : cash and free drink prizes, 6 people per team max. £1 entry

Tea rooms

Tea drinking is a pastime closely associated with the English. So-called tea rooms, which are small restaurants serving hot beverages and cakes with a sedate or subdued atmosphere, are the best place to try a cream tea (usually tea served with fresh scones, clotted cream & jam) or an elaborate afternoon tea (tea/coffee served with a selection of traditional sandwiches and small cakes).

One of the most popular tea rooms is the Parade tea rooms which can be found between Old Portsmouth and Southsea overlooking the Southsea commons. Check also the map below for other tea rooms.