Music, mud and outer space: Creative Manchester at Bluedot Festival 2023

From 20 to 23 July Bluedot Festival returned to the Jodrell Bank Observatory with Creative Manchester hosting two Mission Control events as well as welcoming visitors to our exhibition stand all weekend.

As festivalgoers gathered at Jodrell Bank Observatory in rural Cheshire once again Bluedot 2023 kicked off with a performance by Max Richter and the BBC Concert Orchestra headliners on Thursday evening. Throughout the weekend the festival saw further exciting headliners including Grace Jones, Pavement, Roisin Murphy and Leftfield.

Despite the heavy rainfall, festivalgoers didn’t let this dampen their mood and revelled in the arts, science and cosmic activities throughout the weekend. Spirits remained high thanks to an excellent programme of science talks, music and other-worldly play activities across the site as well as the hard work of festival staff to keep the festival grounds accessible.

This unique festival taking place in the shadow of the Lovell telescope draws thousands of attendees each year and stands out through its programming balancing extraordinary music acts with science and academic research on current issues. This year, Bluedot also provided an excellent opportunity for Creative Manchester to showcase its research in creativity and creative practice and engage with the general public.

Throughout the festival we showcased a variety of our research activities including the ever-popular 'Hear your own voice' oscilloscope activity (Linguistic Diversity Collective), a showcase of Keep It Human Studios’ upcoming videogame 'Resourceful.World', poetry workshops and Roundview's sustainability poetry puzzles.

On the final day of the festival, we were delighted to hold two events at the Mission Control stage, which saw the whole tent packed on both occasions.

To start off, Professor of Public History and broadcaster David Olusoga OBE was in conversation with Professor of Sociology and journalist Gary Younge, who discussed the experience of being Black and British as well as the remnants and public perceptions of the British Empire.

The second event saw Senior Research Fellow, editor-at-large of Canongate Ellah Wakatama OBE in conversation with renowned writer, educator and Senior Research Fellow Jeffrey Boakye, who discussed his latest book 'Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer', black masculinity and being a black teacher in a white education system.