Camp Bestival: Dorset – Review

Rain or shine: Camp Bestival is the ultimate fun-filled family festival.

Although the line up this year in Dorset doesn’t seem as impressive as the sister Shropshire line-up (well this big-kid was upset that Primal Scream weren’t down at the Lulworth Castle event), there was certainly something for all the family over the weekend.

This year marked the 15th anniversary of Camp Bestival – as usual there was plenty of fancy dress across the site. This year, it was animal themed, with the festival teaming up with the fantastic World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Billed as the ‘Best. Party. Ever’, Australian DJ Hot Dub Time Machine began proceedings by showcasing records from every decade and genre of music, from ‘Ghostbusters‘ to Louis Theroux’s ‘Jiggle Jiggle‘…in his words, Camp Bestival is ‘the best festival in the world. There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world‘ – he could well be right.

Elvana – Elvis Fronted Nirvana © Graham Tarrant

Festival favourites Elvana followed with Elvis fronted Nirvana tunes, mixed in with Blue Suede Shoes and Hound Dog….the ever-charming Scouting for Girls followed with chart-friendly pop songs. Later, Ella Henderson, recently dropped from mogul Simon Cowell’s Syco label, delighted fans despite the pouring rain, with a mix of dance classics ‘Crazy What Love Can Do‘ and ‘Glitterball‘. Brighton indie-boys The Kooks brought the Friday night to a close.

Ella Henderson © Graham Tarrant

Saturday at Camp Bestival is always fancy-dress day and this year didn’t disappoint.

While on initial glance, the line-up didn’t dazzle, at Camp Bestival, the costumes certainly did sparkle. It’s always the hidden gems and surprises which make it such a special event that festival goers return to each and every year.

This year, was certainly no change. The highlight of the weekend was the HMS Camp Bestival stage, with an unmissable back-to-back DJ set with festival founder and curator Rob da Bank and fashion icon Gok Wan.

Always one to make an impressive appearance, Gok descended on to the stage from above in a giant heart, scattering scented confetti onto the fans. Truly it had to be seen with the crowd dancing while the sun shone. A little later, East 17 brought their House of Love to the Big Top, before closing their summer festival set strangely with Xmas hit song ‘Stay Another Day.’ Fortunately the gifts kept giving, and Summer Festival Guide favourites The Cuban Brothers never disappoint. Miguelito always acknowledges the stunning location of Lulworth Castle as a backdrop and summed up the event well to the press team by stating Camp Bestival is ‘the original festival where you see people coming together, having fun and being free, that’s why it’s so special!”

Always a difficult act to follow, and there’s only one woman in the industry who can do it – Ms Grace Jones. Her stage presence is transfixing and she refuses to grow old without any grace (excuse the pun.) At a majestic 75 years, she hula hooped through her greatest hits, including ‘Slave To The Rhythm‘ and ‘Pull Up To The Bumper‘, where she rode the security guards shoulders as she met her adoring fans.

Sunday began with everyone’s favourite Australian CBeebies legend Bluey, before Mr Motivator blew away all the cobwebs getting everyone, including the aforementioned security guards working out.

Mel C © Graham Tarrant

Later, remarkably impressive tributes to Kate Bush and Dolly Parton followed, before Spice Girl Mel C delighted mums (as well as many dads with her washboard abs on show.) Beginning with solo material, including ‘When You’re Gone‘, it was truly the girl power songs the crowd were looking for, and she didn’t disappoint. Mixing an acoustic ‘Spice Up Your Life‘ with ‘2 Become 1‘ and ‘Who Do You Think You Are‘, it’ll be great to see if the rumours of a Spice Girl reunion headlining Glastonbury next year are true. Watch this space.

Confidence Man © Graham Tarrant

Another difficult act to follow, but Confidence Man, brought the magic from their 2022 Glastonbury winning set to the Dorset coast. A mix of Scissor Sisters and 90s dance, their multiple impressive costume changes kept everyone moving. If you ever get chance to catch them, it’s a definite must and a sublime booking, before Craig David took over the decks with his TS5 show.

Asked what TS5 means, it’s his one man show, in which he DJs, MCs, sings his own material and also covers a number of classic R’n’B tunes, from the likes of Whitney Houston to TLC.

No Camp Bestival can conclude without the absolute highlight and majesty which is the acclaimed firework display.

With Lulworth Castle lit up with animal imagery, fireworks illuminated the sky to the delight of the young and older ones within the audience.

Rob da Bank summed up the weekend perfectly, stating ‘What a weekend with our Camp Bestival family! Josie and I had the best time celebrating 15 years of memories across four magical days and we are thrilled that all of our Camp Bestival family could join us. From a roaring Animal Snap theme to headline sets from Grace Jones, The Kooks and Craig David, it’s been a birthday celebration for the history books and we can’t wait to bring the magic of Camp Bestival to Shropshire in just three weeks time!”

Roll on Camp Bestival in Shropshire on 17 August – if you’re lucky you may still get some tickets at

If not, jump quickly on the early bird sale for Camp Bestival 2024 – it’s always the ultimate family festival

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