NEIL Armstrong made a giant leap for mankind when he became the first person to set foot on the Moon 50 years ago.

The NASA astronaut was joined by Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on the Apollo 11 mission which became the first spaceflight to successfully land humans on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, before Armstrong made his famous steps on July 21, 1969.

The milestone has inspired events and celebrations to mark the achievement all over the world as we look to the stars once again.

And later this year Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival will theme its event around the anniversary with a centrepiece which is out of this world.

UK artist Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon will blast off at Parr Hall from October 4 to 15.

Measuring seven metres in diameter, the Moon features detailed NASA imagery with each centimetre lit to perfectly represent the moon’s surface.

The installation has travelled all over the world and in October it will be suspended from the Parr Hall’s ceiling. It will also feature sound effects created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award-winning composer Dan Jones.

Warrington Guardian:

Picture: Gareth Jones

Leah Biddle, cultural manager at Culture Warrington, said: “The sound will made up of NASA commentary and classical music. It’s quite a magical piece really. It looks familiar because it’s the Moon but it looks so surreal for it to be there right in front of you.”

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At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the sculpture represents 5km of the Moon’s surface.

Leah, a former Bridgewater High School student, added: “The piece actually uses NASA’s imagery so it’s a replica of the Moon with all the craters and mountains.

“It will be lit beautifully and there’s a stunning soundscape that comes with the installation as well to make it really atmospheric

“Preston hosted the Museum of the Moon in February and I think they had 52,000 visitors. They had it for a month, we’ve got it for 10 days but that gives you a bit of a scale of how popular it can be.

“It’s touring internationally so most recently it’s been at Glastonbury Festival. This weekend it will be at Bluedot at Jodrell Bank but it’s toured to Sydney, Copenhagen, New York, Hong Kong and now Warrington which is really exciting.”

Partly thanks to Arts Council funding, there will also be a wider programme of events to surround the Moon.

Leah, 34, said: “Audiences will be able to see the Moon for free. It’ll be ticketed but it’s a free event where people can get wrapped up in that beautiful atmosphere.

“Alongside that we’re going to have film nights, some yoga and meditation underneath the Moon, gigs and a schools programme which is already sold out.

“We’re also going to be having a gala dinner where people can have a five-course meal underneath the Moon. That will be really unique and Luke Jerram will be giving a talk for guests that evening.

“The anniversary of the Moon landing has really captured people’s imaginations and the hope is even if you’re not interested in art you might be interested in an element of the Museum of the Moon programme and you can still be immersed within the artwork anyway.”

Warrington Guardian:

Picture: Carl Milner

This is part of a new vision of Warrington’s annual Contemporary Arts Festival which Leah admitted has not always had a wide appeal in the past.

Leah, whose first job after she graduated was an artistic director of a youth dance company at the Pyramid, added: “It’s very well regarded and attended by existing arts audiences but maybe your general Warringtonian might not attend – like my mum and dad have never been. But this is a really accessible theme and that’s key to the festival this year.”

Families have been kept in mind particularly for the ‘Light Night’ event on October 4 where potential future astronauts can get inspired.

Leah, a former cultural partnership manager at Warrington Wolves Foundation, said: “The idea is that families will come to see the Moon but we want them to then stay in the town centre so they’ll be a host of different light and sound installations in Queen’s Gardens.

“There will be actors that animate the space, there will music and food and drink. We want to create something a little bit different and family focused and this is a new way of running the Contemporary Arts Festival.

“I’m hoping it’s a success so moving forwards we will be able to use this as a model for engaging with wider audiences. The festival is fun so people can interact with things and be surrounded by light and sound. We don’t want families to have to go to Manchester or Liverpool to go and see art when they can see it on their doorstep.

“It’s about looking at things differently. What I like about working at Culture Warrington is the opportunity for collaboration between different artforms which isn’t done a lot elsewhere.

“So for example as part of the festival we’ll be bringing together a dance artist, a visual artist and a light technician to create something special and unique.

“I saw an event at Manchester International Festival called Invisible Cities that demonstrated that perfectly and it was really quite groundbreaking. It’s quite exciting that, although we’re much smaller, we’re thinking along those lines.”