Inaugural Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank promises to be a music experience like no other

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Jodrell Bank

With the summer festival season coming into full force, Getintothis’ Paul Riley takes a look at a very impressive newcomer at Jodrell Bank.

It is always exciting to see new festivals popping up, particularly when they are being arranged by the brains behind Kendal Calling, Forgotten Fields and Live at Jodrell Bank. With such a pedigree to boast of, it is perhaps not surprising that the inaugural Bluedot Festival, billed as an intergalactic festival of music, science, arts, culture and the exploration of space, is turning heads with a stellar (sorry) line-up.

Jodrell Bank’s Lovell Radio Telescope is, at 250ft in diameter, the world’s third largest steerable telescope. It has been used to track probes to the Moon, Venus and Mars, as well as being on standby in the early 1960s to be used as an early warning system for ICBMs launched at the UK from Russian launch sites. In 1962 it was turned towards the Iron Curtain during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Between 1998 and 2003 it was used by SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) in an attempt to confirm possible ET contacts. Voted in a BBC poll as the UK’s ‘Greatest Unsung Landmark’, the Grade I listed building is, when all is said and done, not a bad place to watch some live music. Making the most of this incredible setting, the telescope dish itself will play host to a bespoke live light art installation courtesy of the legendary Brian Eno.

The music has an electronic and experimental flavour on the whole, with acts such as Jean-Michel Jarre (a UK festival exclusive), AirDJ ShadowCaribou, Underworld, Public Service Broadcasting, Steve Mason (founding member of The Beta Band), British Sea Power and 65daysofstatic, with Stealing Sheep and The Vryll Society flying the flag for our own fair city.

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While the headline acts finish around 11pm, there is a full programme of wonders to investigate through until 3am each day, with comedy, talks, film, workshops and live experiments. Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince will be leading the comedy programme with a live recording of their BBC Radio 4 show The Infinite Monkey Cage. Science talks come from an impressive roster of some of the world’s most influential astronomers and astrophysicists.

For those who like their music with a side order of boss scran there is The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – a pop-up seven course dining experience underneath the Mark II telescope dish (42 feet in diameter for the Douglas Adams fans out there) brought to the festival by the Michelin-starred chef Aiden Byrne, as well as late-night Stargazers Feast and even a pretty epic-looking Sunday roast; for aficionados of street food there is a G’astronomy Village.

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There are plenty of surprises in store at Bluedot. We’re looking forward to a festival experience somewhat out of the ordinary, and literally cannot wait to see what DJ Thundermuscle is all about – the stage name for snooker player Steve Davis.

Bluedot Festival July 22, 23, 24. Tickets start at £119 for adult weekend/£35 adult day passes.

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