The 50th anniver­sary of the Moon land­ing is this year’s theme for Blue­dot fes­ti­val, the 4‑day music and sci­ence event set in the gen­tle green fields sur­round­ing Cheshire’s icon­ic Jodrell Bank Observatory. 

You may buy tick­ets for Blue­dot hav­ing been seduced by the appeal­ing music line­up but take it from me, once you’re there, it’ll be a hard task to pull your­self away from the sci­ence and space side of the fes­ti­val: you’ll dis­cov­er talks, demos, exhi­bi­tions and work­shops, all pre­sent­ed by enthu­si­as­tic experts. And it all takes place under the majes­tic sight of the Lovell telescope. 

When Blue­dot first arrived on the scene in 2016, Tim O’Brien, Asso­ciate Direc­tor of Jodrell Bank Cen­tre, said he want­ed to “blow peo­ple’s minds with amaz­ing music and incred­i­ble ideas”. You’ll have the chance to hear Tim speak – he opens the fes­ti­val and gives a talk each day on the main stage. 

The first wave of artists has been revealed with New Order and Hot Chip  join­ing suit­ably spacey Kraftwerk and Jon Hop­kins as Blue­dot’s top acts this year. Hot Chip head­line on Fri­day with new mate­r­i­al, and New Order will cel­e­brate a home­com­ing fes­ti­val per­for­mance on the Sun­day night.

bluedot site

Lifting off…

Blue­dot opens on Thurs­day for the sec­ond year run­ning with a per­for­mance by Man­ches­ter’s own sym­pho­ny orches­tra, the Hal­lé. They will intro­duce Lift Off, a per­for­mance of spe­cial­ly select­ed sci-fi themes and music relat­ed to the Moon, accom­pa­nied by unique big screen visu­als. Last year the orches­tra pre­sent­ed The Blue Plan­et, and with its dra­mat­ic footage of endan­gered ocean crea­tures, it was a fit­ting accom­pa­ni­ment to a fes­ti­val devot­ed to being 100 per cent sustainable.

Kate Tem­pest, 808 State, John Grant, Gruff Rhys,  Jen­nifer Lee aka TOKIMONSTA and Anna Calvi are also on the line­up.  Plus Les Ama­zones d’Afrique, the first all-female West African super­group fea­tur­ing Mari­am Doumbia of Amadou and Mari­am and Angelique Kid­jo. The Lucid Dream with their dense psy­che­delia are a must-see, and there’s a DJ set from award-win­ning actor and activist Max­ine Peake.

The 50th anniver­sary of the Moon land­ing dri­ves the space pro­gramme: key speak­ers include lead­ing sci­ence, wildlife and nat­ur­al his­to­ry broad­cast­er Liz Bon­nin, Pro­fes­sor of Dis­abil­i­ty Research Tom Shake­speare and women’s rights activist Dr Helen Pankhurst, as well as Blue­dot favourite physi­cist Pro­fes­sor Jim Al-Khalili, space­flight expert Dr Lib­by Jack­son, TV pre­sen­ter Dal­las Camp­bell and the return of The Clangers cel­e­brat­ing their 50th anniversary.

New Order who are set to headline at Bluedot this year
New Order are set to head­line at Blue­dot this year

Bluedot and kids.…

For­get any ideas about a token chil­drens’ play area with a bit of face­paint­ing. Blue­dot has sev­er­al fun, hands-on sci­ence and space relat­ed areas packed with stuff for kids (and adults). You can get stuck into sim­ple sci­en­tif­ic exper­i­ments and take advan­tage of the chance to chat with enthu­si­as­tic astronomers, sci­en­tists and lead­ers of envi­ron­men­tal projects. You can also vis­it the Space Pavil­ion, a per­ma­nent exhi­bi­tion on the site, and then take your off­spring to watch a space-themed the­atre pro­duc­tion. There’s more than enough to keep you busy for the entire festival.

The Arboretum

One of my favourite loca­tions at Blue­dot is the peace­ful 35-acre Arbore­tum: Jodrell Bank’s per­ma­nent gar­den area where you can wan­der, sit in the sun (hope­ful­ly) and find tran­quil respite from the buzz of the fes­ti­val site; you’ll also dis­cov­er instal­la­tions here and there. This (below) was the bril­liant Between Still­ness and Storm in 2017. There’s also a bar and a small stage for chilled folk and world music, and yoga ses­sions by the pagoda. 


Close to home…

There is a strong sense of place at Blue­dot, with many Man­cun­ian and Cheshire based artists involved – both on the sci­ence and the music side. Tony Walsh read his mov­ing trib­ute to Man­ches­ter: This Must be the Place; reclu­sive pro­duc­tion out­fit WH Lung gave one of their first (stun­ning) per­for­mances here. This year sees New Order appear­ing, plus famed dance out­fit 808 State.

Tick­ets are avail­able to buy out­right or on a pay­ment plan; they are avail­able here at Blue­dot fes­ti­val   18, 19, 20, 21 July 2019

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