STYLEetc returned to Bluedot festival for another year of science and music. If you want to compare previous years take a look at our 2017 review. This year saw capacity rise from 15,000 to 21,000 (with a view to up limits to 25,000 in 2020), so we were interested to see how this would affect the overall chilled and friendly atmosphere we had enjoyed in earlier years.
We arrived and unfortunately timed our walk through the campsite badly, as the heavens opened and the worst rain experienced in a long while by us (even in the north) decided to descend. Inside the festival itself, it was noticeable that capacity had gone up, as every inch of land was already occupied on the Friday, early on in the day. This made us a little apprehensive as we struggled for a while to find anywhere to camp, but we eventually found a gap in the very back field of the festival. Hopefully as this was the trial run for hosting a higher volume of guests, there will be much more camping available in future.
There definitely needs to be a bit more allocation for camping in 2020, as when we camped in 2017 it was a safe bet to turn up on the Saturday and still bag a decent spot but in 2019 you needed to arrive on the Friday to get any space. Luckily the camping had no negative impact on the overall festival experience. Even though there were a few thousand extra people attending, you wouldn’t have noticed inside the grounds of the festival itself.
Bluedot has managed to retain the lovely, family-friendly atmosphere it had in previous years. People are so warm and welcoming throughout the arena and will help you if you are lost or need assistance. There is still that same anything goes vibe throughout the festival, as revellers dress however they want and enjoy the event however they want without judgement. To see a breakdown of Bluedot 2019 fashion check out our previous post.
As always Bluedot offered an excellent mix of genres, all lending themselves to the science and space theme of the festival. Headliners Hot Chip, New Order and Kraftwerk all drew in large crowds each night, whilst in the day there were plenty of fun acts to keep people entertained. Hot Chip played a combination of old and new tunes, even adding in a Beastie Boys cover that sent the crowds wild. The energy was contagious on Friday and crowds left still buzzing from the set. Likewise, Kraftwerk impressed on Saturday night and kept fans happy. The group proved to have a very loyal fanbase, with many attendees clearly there for them only and even dressing accordingly in red shirts with black ties. Kraftwerk made their way through fan favourites, offering a more laid-back electro-pop vibe that you could bop to or simply stand and take in.
Whilst both Friday and Saturday were brilliant, we highly anticipated New Order on Sunday and they did not disappoint. Pepping up the crowd with classics like Blue Monday and Bizarre Love Triangle, the band came through with crystal clear sound that impressed. They even added in some Joy Division songs that will surely have pleased the many festival goers who showed up with original Unknown Pleasures T Shirts.
You can rely on Bluedot to offer weird and wonderful choices that will allow attendees to find new sounds and explore more experimental artist’s music. Space themed band Henge appeared several times throughout the weekend, telling stories of aliens and performing electronic infused rock tracks that kept crowds moving and smiling. What’s great about Bluedot is the variety that allows you to wander from stage to tent and pop in on whatever is happening and keep going until you find a sound that fits your mood. Whether that’s a David Attenborough disco complete with cut outs of the man himself, or a man dressed as giant pizza playing ’80s tunes there’s something for everyone.
Bluedot goes the extra mile in its food and drink offerings when compared to some other local music festivals and we must say it’s extremely appreciated. If you do attend future events, the Wood Fired Pizza stand is an absolute must and one of the best pizzas we’ve had. Three years on the bounce we have sampled the same pizza stand and the quality has never waned.
There are so many other food options also to try. A very tasty duck and chips stand gave us a great dinner option one night, as did an Indian cuisine stall offering traditional chicken tikka masala, For sweet toothed attendees there are plenty of options for desserts or simply a snack in the day too. The Les Churros Amigos stall comes highly recommended, giving you generous portions of churros with delicious melted chocolate dip on the side, perfect for sharing.
Drinks also come in plentiful supply. This year was the first year the festival went completely cashless, giving people interactive wristbands that you can pre-upload cash to and spend on food and drink. We were interested to see how this would work out and it worked extremely well to cut down queue times, you virtually never had a queue at the bar and it made life easier without needing to carry cash.
Bluedot offers many bars where you can purchase your beers and spirits in standard options, but there are many other bespoke bars that give something a little different which we loved. The Russian Standard Vodka bar in particular was a perfect daytime stop off. Not only did if have it’s own DJ and seating inside a pop-up tent, there were also two bars available; the first offering set menu cocktails and the other was a cart that allowed you to mix and match fruit and herbs to create your own original vodka cocktail.
As mentioned in coverage of previous years, Bluedot does offer science talks throughout the day and other forms of entertainment. A cinematic showing of the original moon landing footage was on show in a tent on one day of the festival to coincide with this year’s theme which celebrated 50 years since the historic event occurred.
There were also comedians on throughout the day if you fancied a laugh or wanted somewhere to sit down and spend some time whilst in between music acts. Stands were setup all around the festival with activities that festival goers of all ages could enjoy, with everything from D.I.Y. rocket building for kids to opportunities to have a go of VR technology for all.
Art installations have always been a big part of Bluedot and this year was no exception. The centrepiece was a huge scaled down moon replica, which was lit up at night and made for an enjoyable experience to visit in the dark. Alongside this area were light displays that people could walk through and experimental voice distorters that had many people engaged. These displays are active long after the music ends, so offer the perfect way to unwind and take a walk if you aren’t quite ready for bed yet.
Despite the search for a camping space in the beginning and the odd downpour, our spirits remained high throughout the festival experience and we can honestly say it’s still one of the best smaller festivals on offer in the UK at the moment. It will be interesting to see how the festival continues to develop with it’s growth in the next few years.