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Rain fails to dampen spirits at From the Fields fests

Record ticket sales and unique collaborations at Kendal Calling and Bluedot mark a successful year for promoter From the Fields

By Anna Grace on 01 Aug 2019

From the Fields, Bluedot and Kendal Calling

Hot Chip perform at Bluedot 2019 in front of the Lovell Telescope


image © One Eye In

Extreme weather tested Manchester, UK-based promoter From the Fields at Kendal Calling and Bluedot festivals this year, but did little to detract from the events’ best ticket sales to date.

Bluedot and Kendal Calling, From the Field’s biggest events, took place on two consecutive weekends from 18 to 21 and 25 to 28 July.

Both festivals were an “absolute success”, From the Fields co-director and Bluedot festival director Ben Robinson tells IQ. Bluedot, now in its fourth year, sold out in advance with a 30% increase in capacity.

“I think we’ve reached our happy size there at 16,000,” says Robinson, stating “we have no ambition to increase further.”

The longer-running, larger Kendal Calling also saw record sales, shifting 30,000 tickets and maintaining a capacity crowd throughout the weekend, despite “a lot of extreme weather”.

“Every stage went ahead as planned and the festival opened on time every day,” explains Robinson, commending the site crew on their efforts “against the elements”.

Taking place each year at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the gigantic Lovell Telescope, the fourth outing was a special one for Bluedot, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing.

“[The moon bounce] was the most unique thing I’ve ever seen at a festival and something you’d only find at Bluedot”

Audio clips recorded by headliners Kraftwerk, New Order and Hot Chip were used in a moon bounce, a radio communications technique that reflects waves from the moon back to an Earth-based receiver.

Robinson says the Bluedot moon bounce was “the most unique thing I’ve ever seen at a festival and something you’d only find at Bluedot”, which fuses music, science and technology.

The festival received a one-off license extension to 5 a.m. on the Saturday, allowing organisers to projection map onto the telescope and broadcast radio clips in real time with the original moon landing fifty years before.

According to Robinson, the “niche electronic programming” and music/ science combination – scientific speakers such as astronaut Helen Sharman and wildlife documentary presenter and biologist Liz Bonnin shared the main stage along with musical acts – attracts a “more specific audience” than Kendal Calling.

“Kendal Calling really feels like a broad cross section of the northwest of the UK,” says the From the Fields co-director. “There’s something for everyone.”

Orbital, Nile Rodgers and Chic, Manic Street Preachers, Doves, Courteeners and Tom Jones were among those playing the main stage over the weekend at Kendal Calling. Bristol punk rock band Idles were joined on stage by rapper Slowthai in a “truly unique” collaboration.

“There’s a real sense of community at both Bluedot and Kendal, and that makes people feel safe”

Despite their differences, both festivals provide a family-friendly environment, which Robinson puts down to “robust back of house services” and “good security and stewarding”.

“There’s a real sense of community at both Bluedot and Kendal, and that makes people feel safe,” says Robinson.

Both festivals have “landmark” years coming up in 2020, with Bluedot’s fifth anniversary and Kendal Calling’s 15th edition.

If this year’s Bluedot was about looking backwards at an iconic historical moment, says Robinson, next year’s festival will be a lot more future-facing. “The collaboration between music, science and tech gives ample opportunity to keep things fresh, as there are always new and exciting elements within those areas.”

Robinson describes the longevity of Kendal Calling as a “really bold achievement for us”, as the promoter confirms plans to continue the festival for the next ten years at least. Following “quite a muddy year”, the From the Fields co-director believes it is the right time to take a step back and look at “refreshing the site and design” in time for the festival’s anniversary.

Tickets for Bluedot 2020 are already available, with weekend camping priced at £168.75. Tickets for next year’s Kendal Calling go on sale on Friday at 10 am GMT.

 


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