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Get set for a virtual flight through stunning Lake District

26 August 2016

From today (26 August 2016), fans of the Lake District National Park will be able to soar like a bird, scale a mountain and ripple across the top of a lake – within just three minutes, by experiencing BirdHIVE – a 360 degree virtual flight tour of the iconic Lake District.

BirdHIVE is an innovative, interactive virtual reality experience which was showcased at Kendal Calling this summer and officially launches today at Lakes Alive festival in celebration of the Lake District National Park’s bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Inspired by the specBird hive tacular back-drop of the Lake District, a specialist digital team have created 360 drone films to illustrate the special qualities of the national park as a prospective World Heritage site. Because it uses 360 video, BirdHIVE is a truly engaging and interactive experience for users. In July over 1500 Kendal Calling festival goers tried out the experience using a Samsung Gear VR headset and the overriding response of ‘wow’.

Lakes Alive, Kendal (26-28 Aug) will mark the official launch of BirdHIVE as it becomes available to view via YouTube by searching for ‘BirdHIVE 360’. This can be viewed as a 360 video within your browser or the YouTube app. Once in the video you can click on the Google Cardboard symbol for a full virtual reality experience.*

BirdHIVE allows people to experience for themselves some of the unique qualities of the Lake District and the reasons why this special place deserves World Heritage status. From its unique identity, through to the inspiration of the landscape and the desire to look after it for future generations to enjoy – BirdHIVE shares the themes which underpin the bid, currently with UNESCO for review.

John Hodgson, World Heritage Coordinator for the Lake District National Park, said: “The Lake District has been a rich source of artistic inspiration for hundreds of years and this is one of the central themes of the World Heritage bid. So we’re delighted to be part of a very modern, interactive digital art experience such as BirdHIVE, and share with festival goers the unique qualities of our culturally rich landscape. And once the festival is over, we hope people will feel inspired to step out of the virtual world and into the national park, experiencing for real just why the Lake District deserves World Heritage status.”

Sarah Allen, Festival Director for Lakes Alive, said: “BirdHIVE is an innovative, digital co-commission by Lakes Alive, using some of the latest immersive technology to connect audiences with the stunning landscape of the Lake District. We were delighted by the initial response at Kendal Calling and we’re looking forward to extending the BirdHIVE fan base at Lakes Alive and to a much wider group via YouTube. We’re keen to hear when and where people take their flight across the Lakes. I love the idea of someone taking a BirdHIVE flight from their sofa in China.”

Timothy Jung, Director of Augmented and Virtual Reality Hub, at School of Tourism, Events and Hospitality Management, Manchester Metropolitan University said:

“Virtual Reality is one of the most useful technologies in tourism and especially, it offers people the opportunity to experience inaccessible tourism destinations such as space, underground mines or underwater world. I believe the BirdHIVE is one of the first of its kind in the UK in the context of event tourism where festival goers will experience an immersive 360 degree virtual flight over the Lake District which was filmed using drone technology. I think this VR experience could motivate more visitors to explore the real beauty of the Lake District.”

To experience Bird Hive, join us at Lakes Alive festival (26-28 August)

27 Aug: 11am – 6pm at Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
28 Aug: 11am – 5pm at The Factory, Kendal

* You will need a compatible Google Cardboard device to view as a VR experience

About the author

World Heritage Team

Coordinating World Heritage Site communications on behalf of the Lake District National Park Partnership