Even so, 250,000 attendances from a city of 600,000 people seems like good going. The implication is that the society that gave birth to Galileo, Galvani and Dante Alighieri, is doing well, and keeps an ever-open mind. Since attendances at British science festivals range from the haphazard to the downright disappointing (at one event, my fellow panelists and I left the podium and sat with the audience while we talked, because it seemed only polite to keep him company), it suggests that the island that produced Newton, Darwin and Charles Dickens has become more insular, and is now more interested in Big Brother than in the Big Bang.
I wish we have some Science Festival here in the US. If we can have music festival, art festival, etc.. etc.. why not a science festival where, for a few days, the general public can hear prominent physicists/scientists talk about science, and not only that, talk about it intellectually and not dumb it down? We have seen how encouraging the reception was when Hawking showed up to give a "speech".
So far, the only thing close to such a festival as far as physics is concerned is when the APS have their March and April meetings and have some events that are opened to the public. To me, this is more of a "side event". A festival of science should have as its main focus, the presentation of science to the public. It should include both speeches and hand-on demonstrations, including that Wonders of Physics traveling show! :)