Dezeen Magazine

Tour de Moon

Nelly Ben Hayoun's nightlife festival Tour de Moon opens in the UK

Designer Nelly Ben Hayoun has unveiled Tour de Moon, a UK touring festival of live events that was created to champion nightlife and youth counterculture in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Created as part of the government-funded Unboxed: Creativity in the UK, the free festival features interactive work designed by young creatives, including writer and director Abraham Adeyemi and writer and performance artist Mika Onyx Johnson.

Nelly Ben Hayoun festival
Tour de Moon features creative projects by young people

Currently touring across the cities of Leicester, Newcastle and Southhampton, the festival will showcase live four-day experiences in each of its locations.

These range from music and talks to a giant inflatable playground and "psychedelic buggy rides" and are split into categories called Moon Games, Moon Experiences, Moon Cinema, Moon Talks and Moon Music.

Moon Convoy
The festival includes an armada of touring vehicles

The festival was created by Ben Hayoun in her multidisciplinary studio, who chose the moon theme as a way to celebrate nightlife and youth counterculture following a challenging financial and cultural period caused by the pandemic.

"The moon became the perfect landscape for radical imagination," she told Dezeen. "Everything is about transformation. Night and nightlife is really about transformation."

Moon festival
It is split into moon-themed categories

"Following the covid crisis, nightclubs and youth centres didn't benefit from public recovery funds," Ben Hayoun added. "For me, they are extremely important."

"Whether as designers or artists and makers, we need these cultural centres. We need the dancefloor – there is a politics to the dancefloor."

Inflatable structures are part of Tour de Moon

Tour de Moon's visual identity, designed by Ben Hayoun, borrows from the colours and shapes of 1980s video games and films.

The designs were also informed by Ben Hayoun's training in textile design and her experience in making kimonos in Japan.

Various playful characters and props feature in the festival, such as Archie the Squid, a nine-metre-long squid replica loaned by the Natural History Museum, as well as an oversized red telephone that visitors can use to "talk" to the moon.

1980s-style festival
Ben Hayoun took cues from 1980s colours and shapes

As well as the three main locations, a travelling "Moon Convoy" of technicolour vehicles will also bring satellite events to nine additional locations in the UK during the festival's duration. These are powered by HVO, a type of biofuel, Ben Hayoun said.

Also featured as part of Tour de Moon is Moon Press, a magazine published every full moon, and Moon Hotline – the festival's online platform.

The Moon Convoy will conclude at Pedro Youth Club in London's Hackney, one of the UK's oldest youth organisations, when it finishes in June.

Involving young people in the project was important to Ben Hayoun, who designed the event for them to work with.

"As the creative director, I design the platform, and then I leave them to do anything they want with it," she said.

Giant squid
A giant squid and moon are part of the Moon Convoy

Her overarching aim was for Tour de Moon's activities and events to help connect people and ideas.

"A lot of the topics we are exploring with the moon are extremely uncomfortable to most, whether they are exploring racial and social justice questions or communicating with the cosmos and exploring different reference points for knowledge and learning," she said.

"It's going to be like Marmite effectively. Some people are gonna love it, and some people hate it."

Tour de Moon characters
The festival is currently touring the UK

Candidates aged between 18 to 25 were invited to submit proposals for Tour de Moon, with successful projects funded by 875 bursaries worth between £100 and £3,000.

£1 million worth of bursaries has been given out so far, with more currently being distributed as the festival goes on.

Nelly Ben Hayoun is an experiential designer known for work that often interrogates politics and systems of power. She previously directed I Am (Not) a Monster, a film that unpacks diversity within the design industry.

Last year, the designer co-hosted the Dezeen Awards 2021 with poet LionHeart.

The photography is by Nick Ballon.

Tour de Moon takes place at various locations across the UK until 16 June 2022. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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