Bluedot Festival 2023 review: battling elements to see amazing headliners

Skiddle's Dale Grogan went to Bluedot Festival 2023. Here are his thoughts.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 26th Jul 2023

In the build-up to this year’s Bluedot Festival, held at what is easily one of the most unique festival sites in the UK, the Jodrell Bank Observatory, I found myself occupied with the weather forecast, constantly checking numerous apps in the hopes that it might miraculously change - Heavy and continuous rain across the entire weekend. 

Would the elusive British summer sun make an appearance or would attendees battle through the elements to see an amazing list of headline acts, the likes of Roisin Murphy, Pavement and Grace Jones? Only time would tell…


Image: Lucas Sinclair

Upon my arrival at the gates, the initial signs were good. Breezing through security and making my way promptly onto the campsite, I set up my tent in a little over an hour, cracked open the first beverage of the weekend and made my way into the festival arena to explore the stalls and stages. Still no sign of rain. 

Kick-starting my experience, I joined hundreds of revellers at the Deep Disco Stage, dancing to a megamix of some of David Bowie’s best-known hits before making my way over to the main stage, the Lovell Stage, situated directly underneath the third biggest radio telescope in the world. 


image: George Harrison / CMAT performing at Bluedot Festival 2023 

Teeming with musicians, the stage was alight with sounds and styles ranging from afrobeat and breakbeat to jungle, courtesy of the impressive 10-piece collective, TC & The Groove Family. Rather fittingly, the clouds parted and made way for the beaming sunshine that would stay with the festival for the remainder of the day. 

Hopping from stage to stage, the calibre of talent was high. An energetic set from Irish singer-songwriter, CMAT, a born entertainer, a poetic spoken word performance from Manchester’s Anthony Szmierek, the weird psych sounds of Beak>, and a mesmerising set from Black Country, New Road were just some of the highlights. I also have to shout out the Chicken Ruby Curry from the Dishroom team, which kept me going throughout. Delicious.

The sun eventually dipped behind the horizon and the party atmosphere set in as the stages began to prepare for the evening's headliners. First up, Roisin Murphy. 

Executing a truly mastered set, whilst making several wild outfit changes, Roisin had the crowd eating out the palm of her hand from start to finish. Performing tracks from her latest album fused with chart-topping Moloko anthems the likes of Sing It Back and Time Is Now, she proved exactly why she is one of the most sought-after acts around at present. Tribal drum beats in full swing and with the huge crowds swaying in unison to the music, the rain began to fall. 


Image: Jody Hartley / Roisin Murphy performing at Bluedot Festival 2023 

I quickly darted over to a packed-out Orbit Stage to catch a glimpse of Leftfield before stumbling inelegantly back to my polyester home for the weekend, chips in hand. 

Saturday morning, I rose from my boujee blow-up bed with a somewhat fuzzy head to find a water feature had been installed in the middle of my tent whilst I was out for the count. That heavy rain I mentioned earlier had finally arrived. 

After carefully considering my options and observing the water dripping relentlessly through multiple holes in my tent, I decided it was time to abandon ship, pack up my belongings and regroup. 

Wading through the mud, dodging the teams of festival staff working flat out to ensure the safety of all their guests, I made it back to the main arena to catch the day's lineup. 

Image: Scott M Salt / Pavement performing at Bluedot Festival 2023 

By the time Pavement arrived on Bluedot’s main stage for their only UK show of the year, the ground had become akin to a biblical tale. There was a clear divide between the people lucky enough to get a place on the woodchip and the people at the back who had been parted by a sludgy mess in the middle of the area. 

Any hesitation to enter the bog was soon forgotten about though as the American rockers blazed through a setlist of their biggest hits and fan favourites, having the awareness to delight the crowd with Wowee Zowee favourites such as Grounded and Serpentine Pad. What their set emphasises is that it looks like the best job in the world to be a member of Pavement at the moment.

The members were constantly joking on stage, with drummer Steve West making sure that the crowd sound their appreciation for Bob Nastanovish’s boiler suit, an outfit he specially selected for their set at Jodrell Bank. Spanning their entire discography, the crowd gets a taste of every single awkward facet of Pavement’s discography. By the time the final track, the anthemic Cut Your Hair, finishes, I’d forgotten for over an hour that it was absolutely pelting it down. 


Image: Paul Whiteley

I hurriedly headed back to my car in an attempt to evade the hordes of people with the same idea and made it home in good time for a solid and dry night’s kip.

Sunday came around and still no let-up in the weather - sideways rain was the order of the day. Preparing for yet another soggy day amidst the festival soup, the news came through that Bluedot wouldn’t be allowing re-entry for those who’d already left or for those with Sunday day tickets. Although desperately sad for both the festival and the festival goers, I understood the decision. It was good to see a festival prioritising the safety of its patrons over profits and for that, I salute Bluedot. 

It’s also got to be said that watching highlights of Grace Jones’ performance on the festival’s social media pages was pretty devastating. Not to mention missing the likes of Young Fathers, Max Cooper, Lava La Rue, Teleman… 

All in all, a certainly interesting Bluedot Festival experience. Would I go again? Absolutely! Here’s hoping the festival returns in 2024 to a more accommodating climate. 


Dale Grogan



Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.








Header image credit: Jody Hartley