When markets get saturated, it’s those events with the unique selling points that stand out, and few in the festival scene can boast the plentiful USPs that Bluedot has to offer. A music festival with a significant twist, Bluedot will bring a fine selection of engaging talks, installations and workshops to Jodrell Bank Observatory, adding generous layers of science and technology to a base of experimental and innovative music. An inaugural event, the Cheshire observatory will open its doors to festival goers on 22 - 24 July, having previously hosted the likes of Sigur Ros and Elbow during the Live at Jodrell Bank events in 2012 and 2013. Backed by the same organisers who made those shows so successful, Bluedot will hope to occupy a special place in space and time for the UK’s most inquisitive partiers this summer.
Most summer festivals place priority on the guest musicians, and Bluedot has certainly not skimped on bookings, with experimentalists Jean-Michel Jarre and Dan Snaith aka Caribou headlining alongside the progressive Underworld. Ben UFO, Floating Points and George Fitzgerald demonstrate the festival’s superb array of dance music, whilst indie heroes Everything Everything and Dutch Uncles are both on a lineup which also includes Stealing Sheep, British Sea Power and Moon Duo. A strong lineup even when considered exclusive of all else that’s going on, the musical interest on display competes with most similarly sized UK festivals, but represents only a relatively small part of what the festival is about.
Where Bluedot moves away from all those around it then, is with its obsession with the world around us, with organisers branding it as “an Intergalactic Festival of Music, Science, Technology & The Exploration of Space”. Armed with a Science Garden full of interactive experiments and workshops, the festival provides a platform for learning about and engaging with the universe, not least through talks from world-leaders in the study of astrophysics, which will take place in the intimate 200-seat Wolfson Auditorium. Family-orientated learning activities are also on offer, with the Star Pavilion and Star Field areas hosting fun scientific shows to inspire and entertain little ones and their parents alike.
Making a truly all encompassing event is an accolade achieved only by the very biggest festivals, but Bluedot certainly comes closer than most thanks to the sheer variety of arts on offer. With comedy going on over at Contact Stage, poetry and folk music residing in the beautiful Arboretum garden, and stargazing programmes being led at night, Bluedot has a quite extraordinary list of attractions, and strolls through the beautiful surroundings of the venue grounds offer yet more opportunity for inspiration.
With top-class dining offered across the park and cocktail classes being run to teach thirsty participants how to make their own favourite blends, the only thing Bluedot lacks is a visually stunning light enclosure for meditative strolls ... isn’t that right?
Wrong. The Katena Luminarium looks like one of the most interesting features of any UK festival this summer, with its beautiful radiant domes and euphoric tunnels challenging our very ideas about the wonders of light and colour. A labyrinth designed for immersive exploration, the Luminarium acts as a haven from all else outside, and is sure to be one of the most beautiful facilities on offer anywhere this summer.
Bluedot starts on Friday 22nd of July, and tickets are still on sale here.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of Bluedot