A HOST of talks, workshops and family events have been planned for Basingstoke Discovery Centre (BDC), Festival Place, this season.

Free workshops and sessions include family chess coaching and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council will be on hand to offer advice to residents about the changes in benefits.

Garry Momber from the Maritime Archaeology Trust will highlight the investigations carried out by his team and reveal a history that stretches back over eight millennia in Secrets of the Solent on Sunday, February 2 at 11.30am. This talk, which costs £3, will be fascinating for anyone curious about the world beneath the waves. 

February 8 is National Libraries Day, so pop in to BDC to avail of a free introduction to the library’s computers, to hear Michael O’Leary’s animal stories or to benefit from Alysoun Owen’s professional advice on getting published (£3).  

Local performers Brenda Palmer and Bryn Strudwick present poetry and prose on the battle of the sexes on February 13 at 2pm (£3), before Laura Joy presents her class on book binding on February 15.

The popular Solve Cryptic Crosswords class returns in February, while the rest of the month has lots more treats in store: LEGO Animation, Creepy Crawlies – Meet the Mini Beasts, and Gardens of the National Trust with Nick Lightfoot.

Nick is the gardens and countryside manager at local National Trust property The Vyne and he’ll also be in BDC on April 24 to present the talk Time to Grow: Kick Start Your Gardening Year.    

March opens with a crochet class, followed by the visit of author Oliver Double on March 8.  

Oliver has written Britain Had Talent: A History of Variety Theatre, and will come to the library to talk about the comedians, singers, acrobats, magicians, ventriloquists and speciality acts who made variety what it was.

Hampshire Country Cricket Club expert Dave Allen talks about his latest book 150 Not Out on March 11 whilst Barbara Applin from Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society visits on March 21 to highlight the town’s schools and colleges over the years.

Carving Magic are to hold a one-of-a-kind workshop showing how to turn fruit and vegetables into beautiful centrepieces and sculpture on March 15, and they’ll return for a creature carving family workshop on April 12. 

A craft fair will take over the premises on Saturday March 22 followed by a talk on Everyday First Aid on March 29, before historian Rupert Matthews returns to the venue after his incredibly popular talk about local ghosts last year. 

This year, on March 31, he’ll be talking about Jack the Ripper, explaining how the police came very close to catching him and why the trail of murders stopped so suddenly.

Learn How to Read A Graveyard with Peter Stanford on April 3 at 7pm, or how to make a willow heart, sculpture or platter in three separate workshops with Judith Needham in February and April.

Geoff Read will host three photography workshops and don’t forget the free second chance cinema club, which projects acclaimed recent films at 2pm on selected Thursdays. There’s even ice cream available!

Find out more by popping in to BDC in Festival Place, call 01256 478670 or log on to hants.gov.uk/bsdc.