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Moon festival
Image: Ben Wheele / Manana Kobakhidze /nelly ben hayoun studios / Tour de Moon

A bizarre moon-themed arts festival is touring the UK next month

The epic programme includes talks, films, music and loads of very, very colourful art

Sophie Dickinson
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Sophie Dickinson
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Remember the idea MPs had for a ‘Festival of Brexit’? Around £120 million ($150 million) was earmarked for the events, and many duly suggested that the whole thing was a bit silly and almost certainly a waste of money. And so what became of this surely deeply patriotic festival? Well, it’s since morphed into a series of touring events named UNBOXED, and you know what? The programme is actually pretty good.

One of biggest events is Tour de Moon. Well, we say, ‘event’ – in fact, it’s a four-day festival spanning towns and cities up and down the country, with a programme blending films, music, talks and loads of very, very colourful art. The main events will be taking place in three cities – Leicester (May 13 to 16), Newcastle (May 27-30) and Southampton (June 10-13) – and include a mix of live events and temporary art installations.

The full details of the live events are still to be confirmed, but you can expect afrofuturistic club nights, talks about the relationship between the moon and music, and short films about science and psychedelia. And the art includes stuff like an inflatable game created with the help of scientists at the SETI Institute, a red phone through which visitors can ‘talk to the moon’ via AI, and a nine-metre-long replica of the Natural History Museum’s Archie the Squid.

The Tour de Moon is the brainchild of Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun, the founder of NASA’s International Space Orchestra (which is exactly what it sounds like), and the offbeat, tuition-free University of the Underground. Hayoun has previously worked with people like Noam Chomsky, Pussy Riot and Massive Attack, and this time, she’s collaborating with Magid Magid, the former mayor Sheffield; Damian Bradfield, president of file-sharing site WeTransfer; and Adam Teskey of music firm The Vinyl Factory.

If you’re not in any of the three main cities, a so-called ‘moon convoy’ – featuring cars, lorries and coaches covered in psychedelic art – will also travel through Bletchley, Wolverhampton, Grimsby, Huddersfield, Blackburn, Barrow-in-Furness, Plymouth, Farnborough and Crawley from May 11, before winding up at Hackney’s Pedro Youth Club on June 16. The first wave of tickets has been released and you can find out more on the Tour de Moon website.

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