Tour De Moon

Issue 77

Newcastle is one of a handful of cities chosen to host an exciting four day intergalactic event this May. We met up with Tour De Moon creator, Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun.

Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun is the personification of the phrase “don’t take no for an answer.” In her own words, she calls her formidable technique of breaking down barriers and being continually persistent “hammering” – keeping going until you wear the subject down and they say yes.

It’s a skill that she’s honed and developed over the years – and one which has seen her become an internationally renowned creator of unique experiences.

And people across the North East will be able to witness that this May, when her Tour de Moon festival hits the region.

Nelly’s ability to engage with the seemingly unobtainable has led to projects with no less than space organisation, NASA and collaborations with music icons such as Damon Albarn and The Prodigy.

And it’s all done with endless charm, hiding a steely will that she will keep going until a negative turns into a positive. Over the years, Nelly has built a reputation not just for thinking out of the box but thinking outside of a whole mountain of boxes, which is why her many accolades include being named one of the world’s 50 top designers and also being listed as someone who was making” a significant impact on the world.”

Among these many achievements is a fascination with space, which has been the driving force behind Tour de Moon.

The festival, which will also be staged in Leicester and Southampton, will bring together a number of different immersive experiences, all with the linking theme of the moon.

There’ll be Moon Sports where a giant inflatable playground will allow young people to design games, Moon Cinema where participants can watch a series of short films developed by 18-25 years olds talents. Members of the public will be able to reconsider their relationship with the moon and each other in these unique and original films involving STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) collaborations.

Also part of the programme will include Moon Bar Talks and even Moon Experiences, with the opportunity for a “trip” to the moon and consider life beyond earth.

Newcastle will also be one of 14 towns and cities to host Moon Convoy, a travelling festival which will see electric powered vehicles bringing a number of floats into the city, before setting up for a one night cosmic evening of entertainment.

For Nelly this ambitious and exciting project allows her to capitalise on her love for outer space.

“I’ve always been about how we can recreate experiences that the majority of us can never really have,” she said. “How could I make a volcano explode in my lounge, how can I cause a sonic boom in my bathroom. How can I visit the moon if I’m not an astronaut?

“These are the kind of experiences that I want to create for people.”

While this might sound impossible, one look at Nelly’s track record shows that she is definitely the woman for the job.

From creating the first International Space Orchestra with NASA to establishing the University of the Underground in London and Amsterdam to being appointed director of experiences at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute – Nelly’s life is one of constant creativity.

And for people in the North East that’s great news, with the chance to experience Tour de Moon when it arrives in the region from 27 – 30 May. “This is an opportunity for people of all ages to take part in something really unique, to look at the moon and engage it in so many different way and just consider the possibilities,” said Nelly

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