Bluedot (cap. 21,000) festival director Ben Robinson said the event team has worked to introduce a new family-focused area and enhance the overall creative offering despite production costs being 25% higher than in 2019, the last time the festival was staged.
Promoted by From The Fields, with production handled by Engine No 4, Bluedot will take place on 21-24 July at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Jodrell Bank Observatory near Manchester.
New entertainment elements at the event this year will include the use of the giant Lovell Telescope during headline performances by Björk and Mogwai.
“The telescope had been undergoing maintenance during the previous two festivals but is now operational, so we are putting together a programme of art installations that will be projected onto its surface,” said Robinson. “The surface of the telescope is 76 metres wide. We have got both Mogwai and Björk curating artwork that will be projected as part of their shows onto the telescope. After the headline shows, we will have a programme of art pieces projected onto it.”
Another introduction to the independently run festival this year will be new family area Space Camp. Along with a broad selection of interactive space-themed entertainment and activities, such as Jedi Lightsaber training, there will be appearances by astronaut Tim Peake and the team from TV show Brainiac.
“We have done a lot around how we position the experience for families because they make up a big part of the festival’s audience,” said Robinson.
With around 45% of the event’s tickets sold at prices fixed in 2020, Robinson said there have been considerable financial considerations: “As with everyone in this industry we have been impacted by increasing costs across the supply chain as a result of Covid, Brexit and inflation, and for Bluedot we’re developing the show so we kept the ticket cost quite low to encourage people to try it out.
“So, it’s problematic and a challenge for ourselves and a lot of other shows. We had to accept that this year it was going to cost around 25% more to produce the same kind of festival as in previous years. No matter how upsetting or illogical that is, we just had to build that in and accept that 2022 is a restabilising and reengaging year for the festival, as Bludot hasn’t taken place since 2019.
“For us it is about getting the show back out in the field and restabilising it, bringing in our trusted partners and generally reengaging with the audience. From there, for 2023 and 2024’s events it is about developing the show and getting back to commercial profitability.”