From the leafy grounds of a working observatory, this Cheshire festival shoots for the stars with a winning mix of science and entertainment

Words: Tobias Gourlay

festival review Bluedot

Building your festival around a 75m-tall retro-futurist radio telescope certainly helps with merch sales, but Bluedot’s centrepiece isn’t just empty iconography. The whole event looks to the skies with a space theme that draws in an older crowd and quite a few of their children.

festival review Bluedot

For its second edition, Bluedot has pared back the catering to some well-chosen street-food essentials: Almost Famous for burgers; French & Grace for ‘chic kebabs’ are our picks. The whole site’s awash with craft beer, while a cocktail bar pumps out everything you could need on the second day of a festival, from the mid-morning bloody mary to an early evening espresso martini.

festival review Bluedot

The kids have the run of the grassy site during the day, enjoying a sort of souped-up village fete atmosphere in which, instead of petting farm animals, you can pick up bits of meteorite. For grownups, there’s a busy programme of talks around popular science, and a bookshop offers the complete works of Brian Cox in shiny hardback. Elsewhere, the weekend’s only long queue is testimony to the universal appeal of the Luminarium, a vividly coloured inflatable labyrinth.

festival review Bluedot

Each night, as the day-trippers thin out, old ravers swap baby carriers for bucket hats and head down to the front of the main stage for knockout headline sets from the likes of Leftfield and Orbital. VIPs wave their glowsticks from a carefully placed private bar, before the crowds disperse and the most serious cosmic adventurers (we count ourselves among them) head to the Outer Space arboretum, immersing themselves in fire sculptures and other multi-sensory delights. 

festival review Bluedot

Family friendliness makes this one a stellar proposition for groups with young tykes in tow. But, even if your lot are unencumbered, a chance to cast off worldly inhibitions and reach for the skies is not to be sniffed at. Just be sure to book boutique camping.

Tickets for Bluedot 2018 are on sale now, but if you're looking for something for this year, check out our guide to this summer’s best festivals.