National Geographic Live, a touring series that brings explorers to cities around the US and Canada, has announced its 2022-23 schedule after a pandemic-driven hiatus of two years.
It will visit nearly 60 cities and encompass more than a dozen new markets (over 200 events in all), where a group of 37 new and returning speakers will appear, immersing audiences in the natural wonders of the world through photos and video.
The subjects span multiple countries and all seven continents, and with an appeal to audiences of all ages. The roster of talent includes photographers, scientists, authors, filmmakers, and adventurers. There are 14 new cities and/or venues on this year's schedule. Eight new diverse speakers will join this tour season (of those, six are women). Attendees hear first-hand about some of the planet's most unforgiving climates, the Paleozoic era when dinosaurs ruled the globe, space exploration of the solar system, migratory patterns and more.
Timo Gorner, vice president of National Geographic Live and Disney Institute (National Geographic Live is a part of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products-a segment of The Walt Disney Company) told TravelPulse that the presentations have been around in their present form for about 25 years with the idea of putting explorers on stage and having them tell their stories.
In fact, he said, the original idea of the National Geographic Society (still a separate entity) in 1888 was "to go out into the world and come back and share that knowledge."
That remains the mission of National Geographic Live, said Gorner. He said the format is impactful story telling for about 70-80 minutes from an explorer who has come back from the field. That might be a marine biologist, archaeologist or space scientist. Because National Geographic has always been associated with spectacular visuals, the talks are accompanied by photos and videos on a big screen.
New speakers are introduced every year and this year there is a roster of fresh faces that is more diverse, said Gorner, than any in the past.
With few exceptions, the events take place in the largest performing arts centers in a city - such as Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Playhouse Square in Cleveland and Straz Center in Tampa. The audience, said Gorner, is anyone in the general public who is interested in and cares about the planet. While National Geographic Live did some events virtually over the last two years, said Gorner, "it is much more powerful in person."
There is a strong market for these events, said Gorner, with a loyal fan base, including some people who have been coming every season for 20 years. Fans, he said, are more well-traveled and more well-read than the average, seeking to experience the world in these sessions. Travel professionals, said Gorner, could find many reasons to take an interest in National Geographic Live - either because of their own experiences, to generate ideas or because it might whet the appetites of their clients.
Looking ahead, said Gorner, he hopes to make National Geographic Live a global business because the brand is global and the stories are global. And while events now run from October through July, it's more and more becoming a year-round series. Finally, the actual format may evolve in the future, said Gorner, to become an even more immersive experience with perhaps more than one location on the stage.
Among the new topics and speakers are:
- Adaptation: Explore the remarkable ways people around the world are adapting to climate change with environmental anthropologist and filmmaker Alizé Carrère.
- Mesoamerica Illuminated: Art historian and microarcheologist Dr. Diana Magaloni-Kerpel uncovers millennia-old murals and sculptures throughout Mexico and Central America to understand what they reveal about these ancient cultures.
- From Shallows to Seafloor: Dive in with marine biologist Diva Amon to get to know the fascinating creatures in each unique layer of Earth's massive underwater habitat-from the familiar sea creatures near the surface to their otherworldly, alien-like cousins that wander the ocean floor.
- T. rex Rises: Travel back in time with paleontologist Dr. Lindsay Zanno and discover the fascinating story of how a Cretaceous climate crisis gave rise to the most famous megapredator of all time-T. rex.
- Life on the Move: Physiological ecologist Lucy Hawkes shares an inside look at what she's learned tracking some of Earth's greatest animal athletes on their iconic migrations across the planet.
- In Deep: Adventures in Caving: Renowned cave photographer Robbie Shone offers a gripping, first-hand account of the climb for his life out of Veryovkina, the world's deepest known cave.
- Wild Cats of India: Journey with photographer and filmmaker Sandesh Kadur through the diverse landscapes of India to discover its lesser-known felines-from the tiny, grumpy-faced Pallas's cat to the elusive clouded leopard.
- Cosmic Adventures: Join aerospace engineer Tracy Drain to discover the marvels of the planet's cosmic backyard through the eyes of the robotic spacecraft sent out to explore it.
In addition to these new speakers, many fan favorites will return, including: carnivore ecologist Rae Wynn-Grant; award-winning photographer Brian Skerry, who specializes in marine wildlife and underwater environments; African diaspora archaeologist Alicia Odewale; wildlife filmmaker Filipe DeAndrade; big cat photographer Steve Winter; paraclimber and 2019 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Maureen Beck; and photographer Ronan Donovan, are all scheduled to present at multiple venues throughout the course of the tour.
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