Camp Bestival, the spin-off to the Isle of Wight legend, Bestival, is nothing short of a festival treasure. Lovingly curated by DJ Rob da Bank and his wife Josie, this is a festival exclusively for families and offers one of the most varied musical line-ups alongside children’s attractions and huge television stars.
From the moment you pull up in the car park, you know this is a festival that is going to work out those leg muscles, with everything built on steep hills covering an area the size of a small town!
Arriving on the Thursday, before the festival really starts, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a small and unassuming event, with only a few stalls (thankfully including Nandos!) and one arena open, it was easy to believe that this was going to be a weekend that dragged. However, this initial belief was proved wrong from first thing Friday morning with an amazing opening set by the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band to warm the crowds.
With the Blue Coats keeping the crowds happy it was not long before everyone was on their feet and laughing along to Dick and Dom’s performance of ‘Dick v Dom Go Wild!’ – an act full of audience participation and lots of water guns and a foam fight, the adults were laughing along with the kids at all the obvious innuendos and humorous use of Richard’s nickname.
The first day flew by quickly with plenty to see and do such as the Insect Circus, the multiple fairground rides and interactive experiments at the Science Museum tent. Before you knew it you were pitched up back at the main stage watching the sun set to the pounding beat of Professor Green and Clean Bandit before a slow crawl back up the hill to the camping site and a steaming cup of tea brewed over the gas stove.
After a long night anyone would expect it to be a rather quiet and slow morning… But at a festival full of little ones, and Mr Tumble opening the main stage it was a rather early, and very excitable morning! After a set of ‘Hello Hello’, the ‘Hokey Cokey’ and ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’, the parents were screaming for a break while the kids were ready for some more! My day was spent lazily roaming the huge site, visiting the wall of death, riding the carousel and enjoying more of the fantastic food on offer (as well as trying out the ‘Solar Power Shower Tower’), winding down to Level 42 with a box, yes a box, of Rosé was just what was needed!
With Kaiser Chiefs rocking the stage until late into the night, it was yet another late night, with everyone sadly trailing back to the tent after an explosive set fuelled by classics such as ‘Riot’ and ‘Ruby’, more tea, but yet another early morning!
Sunday’s stage times left a trail of confused festival go-er’s with Ella Henderson and Bob Geldof swapping stage times. While there was an notice on the website, and also on the screens to the side of the main stage, there was still a lot of confusion which left many fans unable to watch their favourite act. One lady said that her young daughter was watching another act over at the Big Top and ended up missing Ella Henderson, who was her main motive for booking the ticket.
The disappointment was short-lived however as Ella Henderson smashed her set and paved the way for the amazing Kent duo, Slaves, who powered through their set with just two drums, symbols, and a pleasing lack of shirts, with a guest appearance from a friendly manta-ray. Soul II Soul graced the stage next with a set of classics, such as ‘Back to Life’ which gracefully slipped into a blazing set by Ella Eyre which got everyone smiling as we waited patiently for the night’s headlines, Underworld, to take the stage.
As Underworld’s set slowly came to a close, the crowd all turned around to watch the spectacular fireworks which closed the entire festival.
The final trek back to the tents was slow and with everyone slowly coming down from the amazing high of the weekend at the realisation that it was all over, the air was thick with mixed feelings.
Monday morning was another early rise but everyone was moving slowly. The tents slowly disappeared in a slow trail of little truck’s being pulled up another hill to the car park, it was clear that this amazing festival was one that would be missed by all those in attendance, until next year at least.