Bluedot Festival 2018

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Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.

The words of the great cosmologist Carl Sagan, the spiritual godfather of Bluedot Festival, the annual celebration of music, science, arts, culture and exploration that this month returns for its third instalment.

For the first time the festival has been extended to a full four-day weekend, with revellers readying to gather at the iconic Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire between 19th and 22nd July.

Weekend and Thursday tickets, as well as one-day tickets, remain available on their website over at Under 5’s go for free!

This third incarnation of Bluedot will feature musical headliners The Flaming Lips, Future Islands and The Chemical Brothers. It is the first of those that is most special to the history of the festival, as it was the Oklahoma band who headlined the first major music event at the Jodrell Bank site back in 2011.

Flips frontman Wayne Coyne was so taken with the place that he declared it to be “the greatest place to be on Planet Earth”. On his return this year, in addition to his band’s Friday night headline set, he will be holding a special In Conversation talk with Professor Tim O’Brien, Bluedot legend and Associate Director at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics.

Beyond the headliners, Silent Radio favourites including Public Service Broadcasting, Slowdive, Hookworms, Henge, Snapped Ankles, Alexis Taylor, Nadine Shah and The Radiophonic Workshop are all on the 2018 bill.

Perhaps most special of all this year is the Thursday night spectacular that will see The Halle Orchestra performing The Blue Planet in concert, a show that will see the local institution playing against a backdrop of footage from the great 2001 BBC series Blue Planet. As Sagan taught us, it is the blue of the oceans that makes our little dot stand out in space, so what better way to celebrate.

Orbital @ Bluedot 2017

There is an exciting new stage added into the mix this year, too. The Roots Stage, produced in partnership with Arts Council England and one of our very favourite Manchester venues Band on the Wall, will feature a salivating array of music from across South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Amongst the countless names that are just crying out to be discovered on the Roots Stage are nu-R&B supremo XamVolo and reggae maestro Golty Farabeau. For those adventurous listeners amongst you, this is the stage for you.

In addition to the musical offerings, big names from the world of science in attendance will include Richard Dawkins, Alice Roberts and Jim Al-Khalili, as well as comedians Robin Ince, David O’Doherty and Cassetteboy.

The festival site is a 30 minute drive from Manchester City Centre, with the festival website offering coach packages from across the North West and beyond.

The box office opens at 12 midday on Thursday 19th July for those with an extra Thursday ticket (for the Blue Planet bonus night, which runs from 6pm to 11pm).

For weekend and day ticket customers, car parks open at 8am Friday, with campsites opening at 9am. The arena opens at 12pm on Friday, and at the earlier time of 10:30am on Saturday and Sunday. Campsites and car parks close at 1pm on Monday for all.

The stunning backdrop of the Lovell Telescope, the third largest steerable telescope in the entire world, lends Bluedot an unforgettable setting. In addition to the weight of history it brings (it was used to print the first picture of the moon’s surface, don’t you know), it has at previous festivals been known to come to life at night, offering extraordinary laser light shows to accompany main stage headliners including Orbital. With The Chemical Brothers topping the bill this year, we can only wonder what they might have in store this time around.

The festival takes great pride in its sustainability programme, working tooth and nail to reduce waste and to minimise the festival’s carbon footprint, with the aim of “highlighting the fragility of planet Earth”. There will be ecologically-conscious talks across the weekend, including from the British Antarctic Survey, as well as live science shows from groups including Operation Earth and Future Now. Bluedot has initiatives to have 0% of waste going into landfill and will offer its audience the chance to make a Carbon Offset donation when they purchase their tickets. In addition to their expert bookings and location, Bluedot has certainly proved itself to be a responsible and thoughtful new voice in the British live music community.

Stay tuned here at Silent Radio for our exclusive coverage of the event, with a full review due online within days of the festival’s conclusion.

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