by Kate Wellham Contributor | Photos by Shirlaine Forrest

The 7 best things about Bluedot Festival 2016

From Everything Everything to Charlotte Church - it was out of this world


BlueDot Festival 2016 review and photos Photo: Shirlaine Forrest

One small step for man, one giant leap for a four-year-old, and it’s through the barriers and into the first ever Bluedot Festival.

This family-friendly, art-meets-science weekend at the legendary Jodrell Bank Observatory is a brave new venture, bringing together music and space exploration in a venue more used to day-trippers and school groups than festival crowds.

A few teething troubles are inevitable for such a new experiment but, fittingly, the festival’s main problem this weekend is caused by stuff falling from the sky and making the car parks too muddy to use.

Other than sporadically shitty weather and a couple of lengthy queues for exhibits, this is a hugely successful launch. Let’s take a look at some of the best bits.

(Mostly) good behaviour

 Ok, so there may be a small number of non-indigenous plants on site over the weekend, but there are parts of this festival that are extremely trippy and thousands of people on site, so that’s only to be expected. Anyway, it’s all relative, and this is one clean, well-behaved festival with zero drunkards and lots of polite attention being paid to all the educational exhibits - already better than a lot of school trips.

Witness the fitness

A festival in a big green field is a lovely thing to behold, but when that field also has a giant telescope as a backdrop to the main stage - a telescope that’s been decorated in projections by Brian Eno - that’s a whole new level of beauty. Wandering around the breakout areas after dark reveals sculptures made from trees, light and fire dotted around the neat gardens of the Discovery Centre. The sunsets are particularly gorgeous throughout the weekend and inspire a thousand Instagram posts of the Lovell Telescope glowing with absolutely no help from Brian.

Public Service Broadcasting

Opening the main stage on the Friday, Public Service Broadcasting set the scene for the weekend with a retro trip to the future via AV and the Queen’s English.

The headliners

Sorry to lump these all in together, but the headliner game is so strong at Bluedot that it needs a highlight all of its own. Underworld, Jean-Michel Jarre and Caribou bringing it on consecutive nights make the main stage magical after dark, striking exactly the right note between technical brilliance and atmospheric wonder. It’s the kind of music we’d want aliens to know we were into, for the reputation of our species.

Everything Everything

 Headliners aside, Everything Everything are the crowd-uniting highlight of the festival. As Sunday evening draws in, balloons and bodies bounce around to a perfectly executed set which, in honour of the occasion - includes a rare outing of Nasa is On Your Side.


Thematically a sore thumb, somehow I Like Trains fit right in with the muso contingent Bluedot has successfully attracted. This paves the way for the festival’s future musical direction once every band with a vague space theme has already played.

Charlotte Church

Charlotte turned up for an appearance on The Infinite Monkey Cage on the Friday afternoon, and just never left. She could still be there for all we know.

Kate Wellham


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