Camp Bestival Shropshire 2023 – REVIEWED!


Arriving at Weston Park to get our wristbands is an exciting affair, after last year’s excellent debut we’ve been looking forward to getting back here ever since. The sun is shining (for now) and we’ve got a car packed to the brim with kid-snacks and rainbow clothing, bring on Camp Bestival!

I should note, for the first time EVER in my many years of attending festivals, we are staying in a fancy Bell-Tent in Boutique Camping. It feels absolutely surreal to be able to see our tent from the car, to have a manned reception, and some extremely fancy proper toilets and showers nearby. The tent itself has off-the floor proper beds with duvets and pillows, as well as power outlets for charging our phones. I could not be more appreciative of the luxury, but do have to say that last year’s regular camping experience here was still one of the nicest I’ve experienced. So whilst I will talk a lot about how great our Boutique camping time is this weekend – rest assured that any version of camping here is going to be a good time.

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Counting Thursday as a scoping-out the site day and for settling the kids into their new surroundings, we decide to head into the arena for some food and a look at the new set-up. The most immediate thing to note is that this year, absolutely everything has been mashed into one big space. Gone are the nebulous separate fields and areas, it all seems a bit jumbled together. Yes ultimately it is easier to navigate and travel around, but I am reserving judgement on how it works until the music starts tomorrow.

For now, we opt for pizza for the kids, and my favourite returning food – Bayou Kitchen’s cajun shrimp bowl, whilst we sit in the field having a look at everything. After eating we take stroll around to the main stage merchandise tent to peruse this year’s offerings and end up basically wanting to buy one of everything. The new ‘Sustainable’ range is really nice and quite subtle in it’s design, but there are also some louder fun things like the bright towelling-robes which are perfect for hitting the wild swimming or even the morning showers. I really liked the new patches and opted to get a set of three for £15, the kids loved the plushie Love-Bot of course, and it was cool to see new Roller Disco tees too – I am still rocking my OG Bestival Roller Disco one from 2011.

I’ve said it many a time before, but there’s nothing quite like a Bestival when dusk hits. The twinkling lights come on and give me that instant rush that is unique to Bestival brand events, that there is fun to be found in every corner of this event, and that I am going to stumble into something wonderful at every turn. We decide to take a little tour around the area leading up to the Park Pool. Whilst most of it isn’t open yet, we spot a few things we’d like to try over the weekend and then head into the Weston Woods to see what the offerings are there.

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Now this is going to be a bit of a moan. The wooded areas of Bestival sites, are often the most exciting bit of the festival. Usually they are bathed in beautiful lights, covered in bunting, decorations, fun sculptures. Usually they are home to many fun activities or places to cosy up and chat. Last year the woods around the top of the site (which aren’t in use at all this year) allowed you to walk along a long stretch of lake and watch the paddleboarders and wild swimmers having a lovely time, Cirque Bijou had a beautiful canopied stage in the trees, the circus tent was nestled in there with activities, as was the Tie-Dye workshop and many other fun things on the winding paths that ultimately led to Weston’s giant adventure playpark and the tiny Train experience.

This is, so diminished from that gorgeous experience we had last year, that I was genuinely sad. This set of woods is one very short straight path with a small tent area for the sensory garden, and further up the Orchestra of Objects. Yes some of the things previously housed in the woods are now situated in the main arena but it has absolutely taken away some of their magic, and the joy of finding hidden things on your travels. It is very hard to describe if you haven’t been to a previous Bestival event, but most of my love for them comes from swapping between small cosy experiences to the great big ones of the main stage acts, and this really feels like they’ve axed a lot of those things with this site layout.

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We head over to Caravanserai to be greeted with more of the same. It has been expanded into a whole area that you now just walk into without going through a hidden doorway into an enclosed area. Yes you can now take a trolley or pushchair into there, but it has lost so much of the magic I can’t fathom the reason. Last year people just pulled their trolleys up to the side and went in on foot, and sure a better space for trolleys would have been good, but there were security controlling the flow and footfall, and it was a beautiful area with that otherworldly feel… like you’d run away with the circus. This just… isn’t it. The caravans are spread widely around a huge area so it honestly barely feels like they have relevance, the theming of a close knit caravan corral has absolutely gotten lost in the explosion, and while there are more covered areas to sit under in the middle, it means that there is no central melee of people dancing, meeting, and drinking together.

Feeling a little deflated we head back to the campsite to try and get ourselves a decent sleep before the first full day tomorrow. Getting into a proper bed at a festival is as delightful as you can imagine.


We had so nearly gotten away with a summer of minimal-rain festivals, but here it is, the great British summer curse. Despite a biblical downpour this morning, the lake seems to be teeming with wild swimmers regardless – from what I can see. We walk through the Slow Motion area which is a bit smaller than last year’s great big separate field which felt nice and calmly removed from everything else. This is stuck onto the side of Boutique camping and is very… overlooked. It’s a bit weird actually that you could stick your head out of your tent and watch people getting ice-baths and hot tubbing. The Yoga and Sleep Retreat areas are tucked around the corner in a bit more of a hidden spot but it is also downhill and quite slippy now that the rain has created a mud-slide.

Over the scary raft bridge we wave to some kayakers, but you can’t really stop to enjoy looking at the lake because this is definitely just a thoroughfare and is a bit tricky to navigate with trolleys, however we pop out on the other side to find lots of fun things to do in the Craft Village. There’s a great looking leathercraft workshop, a place where you can make wooden axes and swords, and a basket weaving area – all run by Spinney Hollow, a non-profit woodland project that operates in Winchester.

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Across the field we give some circus skills a go, with hula hooping (which I am extremely poor at), diablo and wooden stilts. The stilts go exactly how you imagine in the rain, and there are children falling at you left right and centre, but it is very fun all the same. Next door the Woodland Tribe fort build is soggily underway but our littles are a bit too small and chaotic to be set free with hammers this year so we toddle off in search of something else more their speed.

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Heading back into the woods they give The Orchestra of Objects a good old bash, an area filled with interesting instruments made from industrial junk, for children to smash around and make noise with… or for adults with childish sensibilities to attempt to play Black Sabbath on. No regrets.

Over at the carousel stage in Caravanserai, we catch a bit of Funke and The Two Tone Baby, which sounds like a lot of people, but is actually just one man playing a lot of instruments. The beats are funky, the cocktail bar has opened for business, and the lampshade-decorated tent is bumping – this is the distilled feeling of Caravanserai I craved. I just wish it translated to the whole area, and not just while I’m directly inside the carousel.

Funke and the Two Tone Baby
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We take a short walk over to see Cirque Bijou’s aerial show, an act based on birds and conservation performed by incredibly skilled artists in feathered costumes, hanging from high ropes. Following their fabulous performance, we tried to join in on the bird-mask making workshop, but it was absolute carnage so we opted to get our craft items to-go. This was actually really nice of them to let us do that, as it meant the kids had an in-tent activity to do one morning!

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Ducking into the Big Top, we catch a bit of the very funny and brilliant Horrible Histories (90’s kids represent), before heading over to the main stage for Bestival legends, The Cuban Brothers. What can I say about Los Hermanos Cubanos that I haven’t already said over the years? They are an institution, not to be missed, equal parts filth and fun. We might be shouting “Kenny The Pasta” instead these days, but they’re still out there breakdancing, getting semi-naked and being naughty, just the way it should be. Out in the crowd we spot Mike’s family dancing along, his daughters visibly cringing but loving the show, and it’s just really nice to see the spirit of Camp Bestival extending to even the families of performers. Everyone is there, having a good time together – despite the ‘wardrobe malfunction’ and threat of sexy favours.

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Next up on the main stage is the bafflingly weird Confidence Man. The duo hit the stage in what I can only describe as black silk zoot suits with some kind of inner frame which allows them to move in extremely creepy ways. Their unique electro-pop sound is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that they are just absolutely bizarre, but this places them right in the ‘perfect for Bestival’ zone in my opinion. The Venga-goths change into a glowing cone bra and epaulettes combo as the rain starts up again, and the crowd seem to be loving them.

Confidence Man
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In the Big Top, Badly Drawn Boy is adorably awkward and charming, with the soft sounds of ‘The Shining’ which he dedicates to “…everyone who has had a crap time lately… is that all of us?”. About a Boy movie song hit ‘Something To Talk About’ has everyone in the tent singing along, and Damon tells us “My kids are here, I think it’s my youngest’s first time seeing me perform” – again, it is so telling of this festival’s ethos and vibe, that artists can bring their families with them to enjoy it. I also particularly liked his cover of Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’ morphing into ‘Silent Sigh’, a truly gorgeous moment of peace and calm amidst the bustle of the festival.

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After a pit stop to run around on the Love-Bot (our omnipotent and terrifying ruler) runway, and then having a go on the new Earth-Bot slide, we get ourselves over to the main stage again for Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Sophie is rocking the most Bestival appropriate outfit of the weekend, resplendent in swishy orange and yellow fringe and a pink sparkly flapper bodysuit, she looks more than a little like one of the Firey’s from Labyrinth – you know, the ones who take their own heads off. I’m into it, and would like to wear that outfit myself. Unfortunately the rain is rolling in heavy at this point and a lot of people are running for shelter.

“I don’t know about you but I’ve been checking the weather for this so much… but actually, it’s kind of amazing isn’t it… you’ve just got to give in and go for it, dance in the rain, get wet…” she says, presumably heading back to a hotel after this… everyone sleeping in a tent tonight is less enthusiastic about the situation I assure you. Regardless, it’s a banging set of nostalgic hits for those of us of a certain age – well played Bestival – like ‘Take Me Home’, a medley of ‘Lady (Hear Me Tonight’ Groovejet ‘If This Ain’t Love’ and ‘Sing It Back’, and her 2001 hit ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’.

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Rudimental are the Friday night headliner of dreams, giving us absolutely everything we need to get rowdy. Incredible vocals, bouncy beats and a frenetic light show that has every single body in the arena jumping – especially now the rain has dissipated. ‘Dancing Is Healing’ really encapsulates the feeling at Camp Bestival tonight, and we love the Natalie Imbruglia ‘Torn’ cover too. “Where my old school ravers at? Get some little people up on shoulders!” is the call from DJ Locksmith that creates a scene, there are suddenly hundreds of kids on shoulders with glowsticks, going like they were born in a club. These kids sure know how to party, and that my friends, is parenting done right.

‘Feel The Love’ and ‘Waiting All Night’ are absolutely worth waiting all night for, even if the rain has begun again and is pouring down our necks, they never disappoint and this has been a cracking night one, leaving the stage with “Bestival, you are amazing, and we are Rudimental!”.

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Starting Saturday with a bang, we head over to The Mum Club Brunch Takeover at The Literary Institute tent, for cocktails, glitter and meeting people. With a 10am start time the drinks are suitably breakfast-y with Mimosas, Bloody Marys and much needed Espresso Martinis on offer. Having not eaten actual breakfast this may be considered foolish but we had a very nice time and chatted to heaps of lovely people there, including co-founder of The Mum Club – Lauren Webber. We talked a bit about the ethos and beginnings of The Mum Club and how they are re-creating the ‘village’ for isolated mums everywhere, and reaching out with help advice and support to those in need.

Following this is an activity session run by Festival of the Girl, a collective who aim to provide fun education for families about stereotyping, patriarchal structures and systems which hold girls back in life. The event was really aimed at ages 7+ but they made everyone feel welcome, including our almost 4 year olds, for some gender-pay gap training (with coloured plastic balls) and language stereotype challenging (with fierce unicorn colouring and mission statements). It’s really nice to see these type of events being included in the CB line-up, supportive and uplifting programmes which you may never hear of or come across otherwise.

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Due to extreme post-cocktail munchies, we head over to The Feast Collective – which has had a total overhaul. Gone is the lovely giant tent with bierkeller style seating down the middle, and multiple eateries inside. Instead there is a Farmer’s Kitchen, which is selling various cheeses and meats. There are seats outside yes, and some more food trucks, but it has lost a little of that cosy factor, especially when the weather is so changeable. However, the new bigger food stage for Bocaloco grills and bbq demos is brilliant – and not just because they’re giving out freebies. We hang out and listen to a talk about the delicious properties of jackfruit, whilst chomping down on a poke-bowl which is absolutely delightful.

Over on the main stage Mr. Tumble is singing ‘Let’s Go Fly A Kite’ from Mary Poppins, which is one of my least favourite songs to hear after my kid adopted it for 4 solid months earlier this year. The show is very colourful though, and there are squillions of kids on shoulders having the time of their lives. Mine was asleep and missed the whole lot, including the follow up of Dick & Dom, who are top humans but not great DJ’s. I’m also mad at them for A. Rickrolling us, and B. mixing it with Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Alert the authorities.

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When the small being awoke, we took ourselves over to have a go on The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle which is as you can imagine, fucking huge. Now, they have done a good job here of separating kids into two categories for bouncing… there’s a big kids line, and a small kids line, and they alternate turns to minimise collision risk of disproportionate size whilst bouncing. The numbers however, are at chaos levels and the cohorts are set free to colonize the castle as they please. Hoards of children flying at each other in a WWE style rumble is exactly as terrifying and funny as I expected.

I may never recover from the side-splitting laughter I experienced watching one child quite literally fly over the head of another, only to land in almost a headstand against a turret of the castle. We escape with our lives thankfully, and head over to see what the Fancy Dress Parade is all about. This year’s Wild theme is almost 99% just people wearing crap leopard print items of clothing. Shropshire has not yet hit the highs of fancy dress effort that the Dorset original has, we need more effort next year please. Regardless, the competition and parade are already over-subscribed and they haven’t brought enough Rosettes so there are inevitably some crying kids around. There are however some excellent entries and everyone is having a lovely time watching them strut their stuff on the stage.

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Opting to find stuff to do since we can’t partake in the parade, we head over to the Soft Play tent, ours are just within the age range and head in to escape the heat of the afternoon. There are toys everywhere, ball-pit, stackable blocks and ride-on cars. There is luxury to be found in having a jolly good sit-down while they play, and there were even craft activities being led in one corner. Captain Barnacle’s Pirate Show is another strange wonder to have stumbled in on, the bit where he pretended to take his own eyeball out was of particular concern to my child, but we enjoyed the part where he showed us all of his party pants (less lewd than it sounds, more lewd than the children realised).

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Elvana are another stand-out returner from last year, this time Elvis is dressed in a white jumpsuit with a sparkly orange cape, and they’re throwing down some absolute tunes whilst two young Elvi (? Elvises?) in the front row dance around joyfully. “Sometimes we like to sing an Elvis song and start a circle pit… ok ok we’ll do the World’s first Elvis conga instead” they laugh before heading into a grungy cover of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, but we love watching everyone get rowdy for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ the most.

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Sarah Cox brings giant inflatable Rubiks cubes and a huge party to the stage, but the arena is stacked for spaceman Sam Ryder who looks like his Nanna has been on top form with the crochet-hook again. Lavender and acid green flames lick baggy knitted basketball shorts and a cardigan, it’s certainly a lewk, and I like it. Of course he plays his Eurovision hit ‘Space Man’ but honestly the true star is his cover of Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’ what a bop.

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Over in the Big Top, Caity baser is heating things up having toned down absolutely none of her sweary songs (I approve wholeheartedly) and the tent is absolutely rammed full of people, while in Caravanserai we see Cirque Bijou doing an excellent set of juggling and acro skills to the background sounds of reggae coming from the carousel stage. Groove Armada are playing an epic DJ set on the main stage, but we are loving some downtime with Des O’Connor (no not that one) the piano man at The Bandstand. The dusk is warm, all these gorgeously golden-lit faces are joining in the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ and Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’, it is truly the beautiful point of being here. The community and camaraderie, the soul of Bestivals’ past has made it into this iteration and I’m so glad.

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Off in search of food we go, on our way to the main stage for tonight’s headline act – The Human League. Entering the very Tron-esque stage set-up, they immediately launch into some absolute classics like ‘Don’t You Want Me’ and gain the appreciation of the home crowd when frontman Philip Oakey says “…what a great location. Not that I’m biased but I’m from the Midlands… Leicester actually”. Singers Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley are both right in that sultry/mysterious pop diva zone to watch, and their voices soar across the arena over the 80’s synth waves. You can’t help but be drawn in by it all, even if you aren’t a particular fan.

Finishing up with Oakey’s own ‘Electric Dreams’ which very well could be the Camp Bestival theme song, is one of the hugest sing-alongs I’ve ever witnessed. The Human League were a truly fantastic headline choice this weekend.

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It may be early, but kicking things off is national treasure and stone-cold legend Mr. Motivator for some morning main stage aerobics. 30 years in the game celebrations today too, the man has barely aged and can still rock an incredible neon outfit like no other. I wish he had merchandise for sale, 10/10 would purchase. Following on from this a decent crowd turnout to watch the Lionesses unfortunately lose their WC final game, but I think it’s really cool that that this was shown and prioritised as an event here – the times they are a’changing.

In some kind of unhinged sleep-deprived parenting choice (led by the whims of an almost-four-year-old of course) we decide to queue up to give Roller Disco a go at Bollywood. I do have a few axes to grind here though, it must be said. Bollywood has always been a giant rave tent of delight. Big enough to get your dance on, decorated and entered via a lovely colourful tower flanked with Elephants and such, beats all day long. Once when the roller disco came to IOW Bestival, it was tucked in the corner of said tent but the dancefloor remained.

This year, it has all gone a bit Pete Tong in my opinion. There is only the roller disco floor… which later on in the day is taken over as Bollywood for dancing. This means that the area itself is tiny in comparison to previous iterations of Bollywood and there is a very diminished number of people who can get into it when it’s being used as a dancefloor. It also means that when being used as a roller disco, the skate check and seats for putting on your skates are outside in the elements instead of under cover. It having rained this morning meant that ALL of us suffered soaked and muddy socks on the now sodden mats that had been put down, AND that it was absolutely deadly trying to get onto the disco floor itself, AND that wet muddy skates were about to be utilised on the disco floor. I have absolutely no clue why wasn’t thought of and managed a bit better to be honest, it made for two diminished events instead of the great addition I thought roller disco could have been.

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In the end we made it onto the floor for some extremely chaotic laps, run to the sound of Disney hits such as the very apt Frozen song ‘Let It Go’ which of course was aimed at everyone holding on to the railings for grim death. It was actually very fun, until one of our party fell down the muddy slippy steps on their way out and got gouged by a sticking up peg/bit of metal… can’t help but think the mashing together of roller disco and Bollywood was a budgetary concern instead of a comfort one.

Off we go to look into some other places instead, the nearby Dressing Up Tent is full of people looking for sparkly outfits and glitter face paint, Cirque Bijou are doing an amazing trapeze show and the drums are rolling in the African Activities workshop. We poke our heads into the Tie-Dye tent which looks fantastic once again, and watch a Dinosaur riding the mini ramp at Tic-Tac Skate School. Tic Tac also had a design-a-deck competition, which might be high on our list to do next year I think.

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We drop into The Feast Collective to grab fruit platters with spicy salt (trust me, it’s a must do) and feel quite smug about the children eating something other than chips and pizza this weekend, whilst watching the retro funfair swing boats go impossibly high. In the Big Top Hip Hop Karaoke is one of the best things I’ve witnessed all weekend, we have to teach these kids about the old school somehow. With that it’s off to the Adventure Play Park up above the camp grounds. Unfortunately here is where I have my second massive gripe of the day.

Firstly, having separated the arena from these woods, it means there is nothing fun to do on the way to the play park and it is a huge undertaking to get there instead of a pleasant walk through the forest. Last year there was beautiful lighting in the trees, art and sculptures everywhere, places to sit, things for kids to do etc. this year it is barricaded off except for the route through, which is truly a disappointment. I petition CB to reconnect this area next year, please please please.

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The adventure play park itself is awesome, with varying sizes of equipment aimed at different ages of children, and a really cute miniature railway which you can buy a ticket to ride on. Our kiddos absolutely LOVED all of this… until… one of them needed to go to the toilet. WHY OH WHY were there no toilets there this year? I do not understand why you would allow people to walk that far, to a completely remote location, for children, and not include at least one toilet. This is a huge oversight on behalf of the festival, and if you want to know if a child shits in the woods? They certainly do at Camp Bestival because there is no choice. Last year there was a small bank of adult sized, and kid sized composting loos available as well as a few portaloo stop points throughout the forest. We asked the people running the railway and they said they had had so many people angrily asking them where the facilities were for the area, apparently they had also requested some but been denied by the organisers.

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After another hike back to the arena we head over to see 80’s legends T’Pau, with Carol Decker yelling “It feels good to be home” who grew up in Shropshire. It’s mostly a crowd sitting in the sunshine to be honest, but they provide a very pleasant lazy Sunday vibe. East 17 are delayed and miss their Big Top slot, but are filled in for by the awesome East Angles Brass Band playing some very funky pop covers. Rob Da Bank is taking a DJ slot over on the roller disco, and Aussie DJ Hot Dub Time Machine is getting the main stage up and dancing with ‘Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’ shouting “No-one is too cool for ABBA!”.

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In the Big Top comedian Dylan Moran is living up to his Bernard Black persona complaining about the lights, the sound and the photographers within two minutes of being on stage. He’s right though, due to the smooshing together of everything in one big arena, the sound bleed from other stages and fairground rides is thoroughly awful. Even standing in the tent from about midway, it is almost impossible to hear him which means a lot of people are leaving after only a few lines of his set.

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Ella Henderson has gathered one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, especially drawing in the teenage contingent who are all singing along to ‘Crazy What Love Can Do’. She has a gorgeous voice and just radiates happiness on stage. East 17 finally make it to the Big Top for their Christmas Party, to the squeals of middle aged women all around the tent. Of course there are dance moves, of course there is ‘Stay Another Day’ but I can’t pretend it’s my jam at all.

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Melanie C is on the main stage rocking her signature sporty look and confidently owning the stage. Did you know she’s had 11 UK number 1 hits? I didn’t, very impressive. Her voice is great, there’s a kid out front with “I wanna be a spice girl when I grow up” sign and everyone is loving it.

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Now… In a moment of madness or pure comedic juxtaposition, someone has booked Napalm Death. I could not believe my eyes when I read it on the schedule months ago, but yes here they are. Barney and co from Meriden, the grindcore monsters of death metal, are at Camp Bestival. The festival of colour, light and harmony. In fairness, you’ll struggle to find a band whose ethics and political commentary align more with those of Bestival – socialism, anarchy, flipping the status quo, doing better for the planet and those around you. I suppose they’re actually a perfect fit…

So when they explode onto the stage with all the subtlety of a stampeding horde of wildebeest, and Barney’s frenetic movements around stage are revealed to the CB crowd in all their glory I expect rejection. What I actually see is a circle pit. A real life circle pit at Camp Bestival – I am shook to my very core. “We are a local band for local people” Barney jokes before waxing lyrical on how ‘Illegal migrants’ is a ridiculous term and damning the government for their policies, to rapturous applause. We also see Rob Da Bank sneaking into the Big Top to join the fun and brawl of it all. One Dad with two teenage daughters is probably in the bad books though, having walked into the tent and heard about two bars of the next song, one daughter bursts into tears and they have to leave. Poor little sausage.

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Barney is in full flow yelling about religious persecution and recent laws across the world being “…an assault on women’s basic rights of bodily autonomy” as well as “the smear on Trans people’s imperative to just live their lives”. Is it too much to wish that they had done a collaboration with Festival Of The Girl this weekend? Crowd surfers, the worlds’ shortest song, and a final cover of Dead Kennedys’ ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ is the rallying cry we all need. What a truly truly fucking fantastic energetic set. Whoever booked them gains my undying love.

In a complete change of pace, our final headliner of the weekend is indie rock powerhouse Primal Scream. Hitting the stage in a sparkly silver suit, frontman Bobby Gillespie oozes that elusive air of unbothered coolness, before he completely lets go to sing ‘Movin’ On Up’ alongside thousands of voices in the crowd. It’s clear this is final-night behaviour, every single parent out there is having a good old boogie much to their children’s delight or chagrin, and I adore it.

‘Come Together’ is fantastic, ‘Country Girl’ and ‘Rocks’ have everyone moving with them, there are kids handing out glowsticks, bubbles, happy faces everywhere you turn, and we have an enormous bucket of churros. Oh Camp Bestival, I do love you.

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After a mini raft of fireworks, pulling up to the FOH in a sequinned kimono, Rob Da Bank thanks everyone for coming to this year’s event, before announcing that The Red Devils will be doing a night parachute drop above us right now. Now look, it’s all very impressive and fun, but don’t know if I can get on board with someone who says to themself “yeah, I’ll just pop myself out of a plane at night and hurtle towards the ground before hoping my parachute opens… oh, and then you know what, it might be a bit dark so I’ll also set myself on fire so everyone can see me”. I’d have liked to have seen them during the day, but apparently wind conditions wouldn’t allow – maybe next year.

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Oh and yes, we missed the iconic Kate Winslet reading bedtime stories in her pyjamas and we will FOREVER BE MAD ABOUT IT. Peace out Camp Bestival, you’re the real MVP… but please fix the jumble sale of a site – we want our separate areas back.

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Camp Bestival Shropshire 2022 – REVIEWED!

Camp Bestival Shropshire 2022


When I tell you I screamed when I heard Camp Bestival was coming to Shropshire, I mean you could have heard me from the moon. As a long-time fan and attendee of the original IOW Bestival, as well as the later Dorset version, and having been to one CB-BC (before Child) – travelling for an hour to a Besti-vent instead of around 5 including a ferry trip… is a LUXURY. Praise be to the DaBank fam for deciding to give us a shot up here. The location is Weston Park, we’ve got a car full of rainbow clothing, and one very excited toddler – let’s go!

Arriving through Green gate, we’re pleasantly surprised to find ourselves parking so close to the campsites that we can literally see our car from where we’re setting up camp, though there’s a part of me that thinks both this orientation and access may change a bit next year with bigger ticket sales. We’re definitely not early doors, there are heaps of tents here already and the family set up is WAY plushier than your regular festival garb. A family near to us genuinely has a whole dining room and kitchen set up, it’s wild!

I do feel I need to address the toilet issue… this year there are no portaloos to be found on site (except for the single accessible toilet in each camp), instead we have long drop compost loos that look like proper Aussie dunnies/redneck moon-and-stars style toilets, which are very tall, and feel very unstable if I’m honest. The smell isn’t bad due to being largely open to the wind, but there’s a bit of me that thinks they would be absolutely deadly slippy and dangerous if the rain really came down. There’s absolutely no grip on the steps inside, and the chained up loo roll runs along a wall which would almost certainly get soaked in any sideways weather. My main complaint was the fact that there were 10, yes only 10 – for the entire Green campsite. No kids ones either, despite these being available in the main arena.

We took a walk around the campsite and into the main arena, after being confused and disappointed that what looked like an entrance on the map between Green camping and the Big Top – just doesn’t exist? There seems to be absolutely no rhyme or reason to not putting another entrance through from Green camp to the arena, and making everyone walk the entire uphill loop of camping to get in, especially when carting around wagons full of children and their gubbins. Please just make it easier on everyone I beg, festivals with kids are already tiring – and this is a family festival.

Anyway, as we walk into the arena we are greeted by the beautiful and familiar sight of the flowy silky rainbow flags waving in the wind, pretty fairy lights everywhere and just… colour. Every Bestival site is beautiful, but there is so much crammed into a small space here, it is just joyful to the eyes. It’s definitely not busy yet though, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that a lot of sales this first year are non-camping people who are testing the waters before committing – I feel next year could be very busy in comparison.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

We decide to amble around and look at everything, before grabbing some of the most incredible festival food I’ve ever consumed from Mexican Seoul. Barbacoa beef tacos, and gochujang fried chicken… it feels like I’m at some trendy Shoreditch restaurant not a field in the Midlands. The site isn’t huge, you can basically walk everywhere within 5 minutes (except for the Temple Wood) but there are some nice little pockets which feel distinct and separate enough to change the experience as you move around. Roll on tomorrow…


After the saga of ‘Toddlers-first night-in-a-tent’, we are up bright and early to don rainbow colours and head out into the festival for day one proper. Over in the Ha Ha Land area, there are already heaps of kids in the Tic Tac Skate Workshop learning to land board flips on the grass, and the shop seems to be doing a roaring trade in board set-ups as well. The level of ‘festival souvenir’ has really peaked since the days of bootleg tshirts outside the gates hasn’t it? The Extreme Bike Battles Show has a bmxer and motorbike rider facing off doing tricks in an impossibly small area, to a sea of tiny awed faces, wondering if they can do a bar spin off the park bench at home. Good luck with the inevitable slew of injuries, fellow parents!

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Dungaree darlings Lucy and Yak have a veritable social media palace set up including a huge shop, lounge, and a pink campervan for taking selfies. We grab a festival wristband from them and a free tote bag for signing up which is nice, everyone loves a festival freebie – so then we head next door for to the Thatchers sampling lounge for some cold cider from the very cute Barrel shaped bus.

Heading over to The Feast Collective, a giant marquee full of delicious eats with a DJ booth, and lots of outdoor seating areas to chow down – we are caught in the drift of the most incredible smell, and as we come over the rise it’s clear where it’s coming from… an entire side of beef cooking in a giant rack over and open flame. Shropshire Lad’s pre-order beef sandwiches with something that sounds absolutely magical ‘three-day-gravy’. There were some slots up for grabs without pre-booking but the queues were understandably vast so we missed out this time.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Anyway, It’s such a hot day we sneak ourselves under a shady canopy and grab a fruit platter from The Lille Fruit Cabin with Vietnamese spiced salt to dip into, and a ridiculously good strawberry smoothie which saved our souls. I also feel particularly smug that the toddler is eating something healthy at a festival, 10/10 parenting thanks. While we eat we are treated to the sound of a fairground band… who are on stilts playing Eye of the Tiger. Nothing surprises me at Besti anymore, but it definitely delights me.

Nearby in the same field is the Wonky Bikes park where children are attempting to vehicularly assault each other and their parents (very entertaining chaos), The Scouts are giving demos and letting kids toast marshmallows in their fire-pits, and there seem to be kids wielding bubble guns all around us so it’s just bloody beautiful everywhere. It’s quite hard to describe actually because it feels like you’re never not looking at something interesting or pretty, it’s a little bit overwhelming at times, until the next exciting thing happens to distract you.

We check out the World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle, but determine it to be way too chaotic for small beings (it looks like the Hunger Games in there, I’m scared) and instead opt for watching people having a go at swinging on the giant Trapeze. Again, where else can you possibly walk from one experience to the next like this? The vintage fair ground rides are absolutely full of gleeful kids, proving that the classics never disappoint, it’s all very twee and makes my soul sigh.

Over in Temple Wood we head to the absolutely gigantic adventure playground which is positively teeming with shrieking wildlings. There are three sizes of play equipment so all ages are catered for, and there’s even a tiny steam train giving rides around the park (for a small fee) which is full of excited children and their equally excited Dads.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Elsewhere in the forest in a little secluded dell, a joyful cacophony can be found at The Orchestra of Objects – a playful pile of tubes, pipes, wood and jangly things for kids to bash around and make music. Just another of these thoughtful little playspaces that take Bestival events to another level and makes it feel immersively fun, like you’ve just stumbled upon something magical and secret. If nature itself is your jam, you can join in on one of the tree identification guided walks, stop at one of the little tents offering wood weaving workshops, or give whittling a go.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Even if you spent a full week at this festival, you wouldn’t be able to do everything there’s just so much. I’m going to have to be more brief to fit as much in as possible here. Elsewhere in the woods we tried out some circus skills like stilt walking, diablo and poi spinning, before catching an absolutely stunning acrobatic show by Cirque Bijou who had beautifully feathered ‘birds’ doing daring displays hanging from the trees. We tried our hand at tie-dye which was quite messy and very fun – you take your creation home in a Ziploc bag for washing, and I can tell you that despite the child rather excessively tipping half a bottle of dark violet ink on hers, it actually turned out really nicely and she was so proud to wear it to nursery after the festival.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Coming out of the woods back into Ha Ha Land, we take a chill half hour to play in the Pirate Ship Sandpit, across from a huge under 5’s Soft Play tent, a Baby Chill Out Zone, and a tent entirely dedicated to giving festival makeovers like glitter, facepaint, henna and hair braiding. I genuinely can’t think of an age group that isn’t catered to in some way here.

After that little interlude we hit up the H&M Kids Science Stage and Workshop Tent and were met with a host of things for (slightly bigger) kids to do, all aimed around STEM learning. Lego, tower building, slime making, colouring sheets, architectural drawing… you name it. They also thoughtfully gave out certificates and badges, and there was even a Camp Bestival special edition of The New Scientist magazine which my inner nerd was very impressed by.

Before heading over to the Park Stage to actually you know, see some bands play (we kind of forgot that we were even at a music festival today) we caught a bit of Karauke in Pig’s Big Ballroom, which is a really cute tent full of comfy old sofas and a little stage. Karauke is exactly what it sounds like by the way – a Ukulele band plays covers for you to Karaoke over. Paint It Black was a personal favourite, shout out to whoever chose that one, I’ve never heard it on the Ukulele before and possibly never will again in my life.

On the Park Stage, The Proclaimers are tempting me to walk 500 miles in the opposite direction… no that’s not fair, they’re good just not my vibe. Plenty of people out there were having a lovely time, they were just all over the age of 50. Luckily there’s a plucky child giving the plant-based sausage rodeo bull a go, and it is absolutely bound to end in tears, so I’m off to watch a bit of that.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

After popping back to The Feast Collective to grab some dinner (fried oyster mushrooms and chimichurri from The Cajun Rainbow – JFC they were good), we catch a bit of Scouting for Girls, or to be more precise we catch a lot of drunk parents caterwauling ‘She’s So Lovely’ right over the top of Scouting for Girls. Yeah they’re pretty cringe but quite fun, there’s lots of ‘oggie oggie oggie’-ing and telling people to hug each other, Drop Dead Fred would barf everywhere at this mush.

Now for something completely different. We head over to my soul-space, my favourite place, the place a little bit of my festival heart will forever reside in – Caravanserai. How can I explain this to you. The front doors are unassuming, a little dark entryway under a beaten up sign, flanked by high walls made of roughshod steel and boards. Inside however, is the junkyard circus-runaway, 70’s caravan park of dreams. Around the edges are little open fronted houses with psychedelic wallpaper and velvet lampshades, cut in half caravans with chandeliers, and vintage waltzer booths or little tea tables everywhere to be sat at. The day is dimming and Caravanserai is lit by hundreds of bulb and fairy lights, we grab ourselves a fancy cocktail from the bar and head into the old carousel towards the stage adorned with more tasseled and bejeweled lampshades, to see the gorgeously talented Mr. Bruce (of Correspondents fame).

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Mr. Bruce is Besti fan favourite, for very good reason – he is one of the most intensely electric performers you will ever see in your lifetime and it’s both a crying shame AND absolutely perfect that he’s out here playing on one of the tiniest stages at the festival. Being up close and in the moment with him is unforgettably fantastic. The mix of electro-swing, hip-hop, drum & bass… it’s weird and wonderful and so completely unlike anything else out there. New song ‘I am Disaster’ is excellent and his chaotic dancing has the entire tent whipped up into a frenzy along with him. There’s an inevitably sad shout out to Correspondents band mate Tim ‘Chucks’ Cole who died unexpectedly in 2020, and a brilliant cover of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and I just can’t rave enough about him. If you ever have the chance, do not miss the opportunity to catch Mr. Bruce.

On the main stage, London girl Mae Muller is out in a two piece outfit that looks like it’s made from a towel (but she looks great in it, how dare she) and she’s shouting out a fan in the front row who she chats to on Instagram. It’s the teen’s Birthday and it’s an adorable interaction that kid is going to remember forever, even if Mae quips that she’s been told she isn’t allowed to swear in the Birthday song she’s about to sing titled ‘HFBD’ – iykyk. It’s her lyrics from another song that really get me though “…you don’t need a girlfriend, you need a therapist” – I am absolutely all about this being the narrative our female youth are getting instead of the crap we were fed as kids. Big up Mae Muller, it’s going on my playlist.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

In the Big Top, Gok Wan’s DJ set is going off to a pretty decent sized crowd, before our (extremely late billing – why so late CB?) headliner: Becky Hill. Under a swirling LED backdrop and amid clouds of smoke, a spraypainted old style phone box stands in the centre of the Park Stage – lit with the name ‘Becky Hill’ where ‘telephone’ should be. If she turns out to be the next Doctor Who, I may actually watch it.

There’s a fairly long winded little conversation act in the phone box, in which we can hear her saying something like “…yeah I’m about to headline a festival can I call you later” which I suppose could be considered a subtle Dom Joly tribute (who incidentally is also performing here this weekend). Anyway, despite the fact that it’s a little stilted, when she pops out of the phone-box aided by her dancers, she is clearly here to party and definitely looks the part – in the most eye poppingly bright neon green and pink jacket, skirt, corset top, and monster stacked platform rainbow boots. Two female acts to close the first night at CB, and a female DJ on the decks – those boots were made for stomping, the patriarchy.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Becky shouts out to Shropshire and the Midlands in general, saying this is the closest she’ll ever get to playing a home crowd, as she’s from Worcestershire – before the stage is lit up with sparklers and fire cannons as she dances around on her enormous death shoes. The crowd is about 80% teenage girls at the moment, who are screaming their heads off, and Becky’s deep melodic voice is absolutely incredible. She calls out “Who here likes drum and bass? I like drum and bass, it’s my favourite genre of music. We’re going to take the tempo up to 174 finally” for ‘Here For You’ but the standouts for me were the big beats Gecko ‘Overdrive’ and ‘Afterglow’. There’s nothing like a night full of lasers and dancing with wild abandon though, is there. I personally think Becky Hill absolutely smashed that performance, and by the sheer amount of people who were out jumping in that crowd, I’d say she did her home region proud.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG


Saturday morning brings a light rain shower, but nothing is going to dampen our spirits and it soon brightens up for us to walk the colourful site again. Today we pop in on the African Activities tent to give some group drumming a go (very fun), then we laze about on the soft chairs in Bollywood for a while listening to Mr. B – Gentleman Rhymer in the Big Top (also very fun). The arena is definitely busier today, it seems like a lot more day tickets have been sold, which is understandable with tonight’s headliner.

Into the woods we go to check out the Wild Swimming and Paddleboarding area across the water from Slow Motion. Extremely jealous as it’s hot today – why oh why didn’t I pack the swimmies. Slow Motion itself is a lovely quiet tucked away area, with everything from wood fired hot tubs to extreme ice-baths, slow flow yoga sessions and even a tent specifically for napping. If I was a different kind of person, I think getting up early for yoga and a dip in the lake would be flipping lovely. Alas I am the kind of person who crawls out of the tent nest groaning and eats a kitkat.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Under the Sharp’s Doom Bar canopy, we stumble upon a gang of kids attempting to bury a Dad in the sandpit – which covers the entire dancefloor of the space, and includes a rather jazzy little desert island DJ booth. After a little while people come round with free samples of beer, and of Chef Niall Keating’s beer battered sausages with curry sauce. Now that is service.

Over near the Lovebot (I love you Lovebot, what an icon) we catch a leek juggling/acrobatic performance at Rimsky’s Yard, check out Junior Jungle in the Bollywood tent to throw some shapes, and see a bit of a slightly confused parade go by – complete with an entire Dalmation family in tow. Actually the costumes today have been brilliant, we saw a host of Minions as well but our favourite was the family who came as Freddie Mercury in different guises. The Dad was in the pink cleaning outfit – epic.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Up next on the main stage, not to be missed EVER – The Cuban Brothers. Spinning tunes is Kengo on the decks, with Juan joining him for synchronised dance in their snazzy red suits, before “…everyone’s Uncle Miguel” hits the stage. Half Hip-Hop, half drug-baron is the vibe I feel – laughing “We’re the only band who’ve had the privilege of being at every single Bestival and Camp Bestival ever” before getting the crowd full of kids to shout “Kenny que pasa” instead of ‘The Bastard’. “Thank you all for not swearing… this could have been really fucking bad” almost makes me spit my drink out – especially since backstage he had told me there were actually signs in their dressing room asking them not to swear, because this is a family festival.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Ahh well, you’re never going to reign these boys in – their set is full of hip hop, break dancing, flips and fun, and as expected, during ‘Ante Up’ Miguel takes his trousers off to reveal a pair of pants with a tiger face on. “Sorry for the wardrobe malfunction, it’s the eye of the tiger” he quips before shouting out to all the parents bringing their kids here this year. Miguel notes that this is the future of music – and why Camp Bestival was made in the first place. The small moment of sincerity is short lived though. So their set isn’t the filthiest I’ve witnessed by a long shot, and they’ve been bloody brilliant as always, but I can’t help but notice some parents covering children’s ears while he rambles on about his 4th penis reduction surgery in Zurich this year and wonder if they’ve written them off as trouble (which I assume is their ultimate goal to be honest) but my child is currently attempting to do all of Juan’s breakdancing moves on the floor, so I’m going to give them a solid thumbs up as always.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Next up Sara Cox (of radio 1 fame), is giving a DJ set, and although she looks absolutely resplendent in a sparkly outfit – is reminiscent of every hateful school disco I ever went to. The tunes are classic cringe and yes, I do know everyone else loves that but honestly, I wish she’d been on in a tent somewhere instead. I will allow for one amendment to that though – watching a huge crowd of people sit down and do ‘Oops Upside Your Head’ was quite funny, especially all the people dressed as morris dancers.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Eventually the last peaks of burning sun die down, and we are met by the extremely bright pulsing lights of Example. Wearing Mc Hammer pants and a smiley acid tee he is clearly full of energy for this tonight as he jumps and runs around the stage. The crowd is going absolutely bonkers for it, a writhing mass of teens bouncing as one as he yells “kids on shoulders, kids on shoulders” to get as many in the air as possible. It’s a great amped up set to get everyone in the mood.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Next up: the man, the legend, Fatboy Slim. You absolutely cannot live in this world without being a fan of something this man has produced, and although 10.15pm is a very late start for a headliner – the Park Stage area is absolutely rammed with people – and yes, kids galore, mostly wearing ear defenders in preparation.

Bursting on stage in an inflatable blue parrot costume (unsure as to why), Norm is immediately into the fray with ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’ and some bone crunchingly loud bass. There’s too much to mention really, the set is beyond incredible, and I say that as someone who has seen him perform multiple times. It’s not a ‘press play on the hits and let it ride’ sort of affair, he is mixing up every single bit of his work and live mashing it into other things – something totally unique and special. Zombie Nation gets a feature, as does his Nancy Sinatra cover ‘Bang Bang’ and in contradiction to CB’s ‘rules’ he is caught yelling “IT’S BESTIVAL BITCH” over the mic. Ok ok so he didn’t play more than a tiny clip of ‘Fucking In Heaven’ but it was funny.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

There are visuals, there are lasers, the crowd is going berserk… his Abba ‘Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’ mix is absolutely epic and there’s a little nod to the Stranger Things crowd (there were a lot of Scoops Ahoy employees around site today) with the inclusion of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’. We also get some Underwold ‘Born Slippy’, the Ukrainian flag on the screens and then Greta Thurnburg’s soliloquy that very helpfully ends in her saying ‘Right Here, Right Now’ – which sends everyone into an absolute frenzy. It’s truly an immaculate set – we get a bit of absolutely everything. Finishing up with mixes of ‘Praise You’, ‘The Rockafella Skank’ with a bit of The Stones ‘Satisfaction’ and then The Ramones ‘Hi Ho Let’s Go’ – it’s a long one, but so so worth it. I find it truly fantastic that the daytimes here can be so kid oriented but the nights can feel exactly like my original hedonistic Bestival memories.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG


On Sunday we head over to see the progress of the Woodland Tribe Big Build (an area full of bits of wood, hammers, and some very questionable DIY skills) but holy wow it’s amazing! There’s a huge Tower Bridge type construction which children are carefully hammering bits onto, even if the people in charge of making sure it’s safe do have the faintest look of concern on their faces at times, colour me impressed.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Everywhere tired parents are doing their last ditch efforts to drag festival trailers around the place (some are decorated to a very high standard, one is a full on pirate ship that blows bubbles from the mast) and almost everywhere you turn people have colourful braided hair or sequins all over them. It may have taken a few people a day or so to get into it, but I expect next year to feel even more like Bestival now that they’ve got the spirit of it.

We take a peek into The Grand Indian Art Bazaar, and unfortunately realise that we’ve missed the opportunity to sign up for things, BUT it really is amazing in there. You can watch cooking demos, have Mehndi done, dress up in beautiful clothes, have a go at wood block printing or even take a textiles class – as they have an entire sewing machine set up in there. There truly is something for everyone at this festival.

We take a quick squiz at the Above and Beyond arial performers doing some beautiful moves on hoops and straps, before heading to the main stage for a bit of afternoon movement with Mr Motivator, who looks and sounds quite literally the exact same as he did 30 years ago. The man is a machine, and as always is wearing one heck of a leotard.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Later on Rascal Raves are giving the soundtrack to Bollywood, before an Indian walking band stroll over to play us some more beautiful music around a tuktuk. Sentences you can only write at Camp Bestival for 100. Taking our final opportunities to sample the incredible festival food today, I opt for Bayou – Blackened cajun shrimp with a creole sauce on top of spicy fries, cheese sauce and slaw. I could eat this every day of my life I tell you. However it is spicy enough to warrant another strawberry smoothie so we head back up to The Feast Collective, only to find party curator and main man Rob Da Bank playing a DJ set in the corner. Smooth tunes and food in the sunshine – heaven.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

After this pitstop it’s back to the main stage for Elvana (Elvis fronted Nirvana), who jokes that he sometimes sounds like Nick Cage, sometimes like Matthew McConaughey, and hopefully with a little luck, a bit like Kurt Cobain. Elvis’ red caped outfit is extremely jazzy, he spends the entire time rocketing around the stage and jumping up and down, before getting into the crowd to see all his fans. It’s actually bloody brilliant music – not just a fun show. I’ll never get to see Nirvana or Elvis, so I’ll take it thanks.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

Over in the Big Top, Dom Joly is talking about how nothing good comes from France and that actually Belgium is the best, but refuses to go all Trigger Happy TV (which let’s face it, is what most people know him from). We take a trip to Caravanserai under a rapidly darkening sky, to hide in a quirky cubby before the rain sets in, and OH but it does. It’s a brief but heavy downpour and we end up singing nursery rhymes with a lovely family we appear to have squashed ourselves in alongside. Eventually the rain dies down and we ruffle our feathers to head off again, but not before catching a bit of Doghouse Derelicts in the Carousel, who are excellently funky.

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin in the Big Top pull a decent crowd, but the lion’s share of people appear to be in the Park field for Sister Bliss’ Faithless DJ set. Rocking a sparkly bomber jacket, she gives us exactly what we want in the form of classic Faithless sounds ‘We Come 1’ and ‘Insomnia’.

Out of nowhere we’re suddenly at the Sunday headliner – Rag’N’Bone Man, a definite change from the hyperactive club feel of the previous two nights. Making his way on stage wearing a Raiders jersey and a giant smile, Rory just looks so happy to be here. There’s no denying that he has an absolutely incredible voice but it is a bit of a culture shock after the big beats of Sister Bliss amping everyone up half an hour ago. Regardless the entire crowd is joining in on the likes of ‘Skin’ and ‘Human’ and his voice carries across the entire site. It’s pretty clear he’s got a lot of fans here, the site is absolutely packed with people, carts and kids still up dancing.

Ⓒ Anna Hyams for SFG

I wish we weren’t going home, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what CB Shropshire has to offer – the sign of a great Bestival. Alas it ends, in the most incredible fireworks show over the Castle which is lit up in rainbow colours. See you next year CB – what a successful and ridiculously overwhelming debut. I need to lie down in a dark room for a few days now.

Bestival and Common People present: The World’s Biggest Bouncy-Castle!

The Bestival family has a long and august history of going that extra mile, making the world of festivals bigger, better and brighter. And this year is no exception, pushing the boundaries of bobbing up and down to the very limit, we’ve teamed up with our old muckers, Cardiff-based Something Creatives to make what we think is the world’s biggest bouncy castle! Aiming to add to our accolades for the world’s largest fancy dress party, the biggest busk ever and our colossal disco ball, this could well be the greatest inflatable on Earth, and it’s making its debut at Common People in Southampton this coming bank holiday weekend!

Rob da Bank says: “We do love breaking a record and this is one of our funnest builds so far. Me and my mate Matt from the infamous Inflatable Church had a pipe dream about five years ago of building the world’s biggest bouncy castle, and this summer we’re making that a reality. So polish your socks and step up for what will be one of the most innocent of pleasures – bouncing up and down with gay abandon with your mates, family or friendly strangers. See you on the castle!”

Something Creatives’ Matt the Hat commented: “I’ve always been the first kid in the sandpit and consider play a fundamental part of everyday life. Everyone should find the time to play. The playful spirit of creating joy and fun is shared by Rob da Bank and all of the Bestival family and has made this brilliantly bonkers idea a reality. Whether you’re young or old, what could be more fun than jumping around inside the biggest bouncy castle in the world?  Just watch out for the ‘bouncers’, and remember if you’re wearing shoes then you can’t come in!”

Everyone loves a bouncy castle. That’s a fact. And we’ve got even more facts about our blow up bastion that could see us heading for the record books once again. Smashing an almost 20-year-old record and measuring a frankly epic23.8 metres long and 20.7 metres wide our bouncy castle stands 12.8 metres tall at its highest point; the side turrets are equal in height to the walls of Cardiff Castle, making it taller than the Great Wall of China and roughly three times the size of the Berlin Wall! Filled with 1143 cubic metres of air it can comfortablyaccommodate 100 pleasure-seeking festivalgoers at one time.

Quite simply massive, it’s an inflatable legend in the making, don’t miss the chance to have a jump around on our historic bouncy castle at Common People, Southampton this 28th & 29th May, and then at Camp Bestival 28th-31stJuly and Bestival from 8th – 11th September.

Bouncy Castle Comparison:

                                                            Length          Width           Height         


Word’s Biggest Bouncy Castle:          23.8m          20.7m          12.8m                 


Previous Record Holder:                    19m             19m             12m            

The clock is ticking and Common People tickets are flying so grab yours now at

Camp Bestival announce Cosmic DJ lineup

Team CB are very excited to announce the DJ line-up for this year’s Camp Bestival Outer Space extravaganza. And you can be sure that the moon walk is just one of the signature moves that we’ll be busting out as we reach for the firmament of dancefloor stars who’ll be keeping us space raving family style all weekend long at Lulworth Castle at the end of July.

Astro-mixmaster Rob da Bank says: “We always like to get the whole family dancing at Camp Bestival, so this year I’m really chuffed that we have some proper DJing legends who will be more than familiar to mums and dads but who will definitely get the kids up on their feet and partying. From the legendary Sasha, Hacienda giant Greg Wilson and lifetime Camp Bestival resident David Rodigan to amazing family ravers Big Fish Little Fish and Fun DMC, not forgetting Pan’s People, we’re all going to be spoilt for choice!”

Heading up our cavalcade of cosmic explorers, and providing a golden opportunity for parents to relive their intergalactic youth, we are ecstatic to welcome Sasha back to Space Camp Lulworth. A veritable rave god, Sasha is a man who knows how to take a crowd on a voyage into the unknown and we can’t wait!

The legends don’t stop there as we will also have hacienda stalwart Greg Wilson’s Super Weird Substance, reggae great David Rodigan MBE who will present Ram Jam featuring sets from Trevor Nelson, Wookie, Kiko Bun (live) andVenum Sound and rare groove kingpin Norman Jay MBE will be making good on the ones and twos. Plus, we will have sets from Acid Housewife featuring Lottie & Smokin Jo, and English Disco Lovers.

Pioneers of family clubbing Big Fish Little Fish will be back to rock the tots once again and there will be beats and bass for big and little kids alike with sets from Fun DMC, the Kids Disco with Pan’s People, Nutty’s Disco and Junior Jungle Rave who are guaranteed to make the little’uns jump up.

Katy B, KT Tunstall and more join the Space themed Camp Bestival lineup

Joining our previously announced headliners Fatboy Slim, Tears for Fears and Jess Glynne, and Aliens Love Underpants, Dick and Dom and Mr Tumble, we’re over the moon to announce even more astronutters who will be joining Camp Bestival’s festi-holiday frolics at Space Camp Lulworth for a party that’s sure to be out of this world!

Rob da Bank says: “Prepare for lift-off my space brothers and sisters… we are T-minus 184 days and, whilst I’m busying packing dried food and spare pants for the trip to outer space, I’ve also been booking a load more bands and DJs. From Katy B and KT Tunstall, to London legends Squeeze, hip-hop royalty in the form of Arrested Development and the incredible afro beat of Seun Kuti, it’s a veritable smorgasbord of styles from around the world… and outer space! Can’t wait to see you at the launch pad!

We’re super-excited to welcome the queen of rave pop, Katy B, to Lulworth castle! A chart invading trailblazer, Katy’s beat-driven vignettes laid the foundations for a whole host of recent chart stars, and with brand new album Honey – the follow up to chart topper Little Red – set to soundtrack the summer, she’s a dead cert to blast us into outer space! We’ll also have stratospheric action from Scottish chanteuse KT Tunstall, London’s finest post-punk hit-machine Squeeze, enduring hip-hop troubadours Arrested Development, keepers of the Afrobeat flame Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, the UK’s most successful girl band ever Bananarama, turntable wizard DJ Yoda, singer-songwriter Jamie Lawson, chill out specialists Turin Brakes, acid jazz innovators Brand New Heavies, confessional rapper Loyle Carner, reggae queen Dawn Penn, Havana’s greatest gift to humanity The Cuban Brothers, and hobo-chic originator Duke Special.

And there will be plenty more intergalactic joys with Louis Berry, Rob da Bank & Tayo’s Prince tribute, Purple Rave, Sound of the Sirens, The Demon Barbers XL, Sound and Vision: A Celebration of David Bowie presented by Rob da Bank, Lizzie Ball and the Classical Kicks Orchestra, The Scorsese Agreement, Delilah Sisters, The Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band, Circus Raj and Folk Idol.

Fatboy Slim & Jess Glynne to headline Camp Bestival 2016

Rob da Bank says: “Greeting cosmonauts and mini astro-nutters… so as we prepare for our first spacewalk in July, I’m mega chuffed to unveil two of our intrepid headline sonic explorers. I’m not sure another festival could get away with Fatboy Slim and Jess Glynne but it’s a tribute to you lovely campers that we can deliver such a diverse bill. Fatboy has always been one of the family, and Jess Glynne is quite frankly a one woman hit machine who will light up Friday night. Not forgetting our old chum Mr Tumble and, to fit with the theme, we have the amazing Aliens Love Underpants! Prepare to go extra-terrestrial”.

He’s one of our all-time favourite DJs, the ultimate party starter and king selector, so we are over the moon that Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim is joining us in Outer Space to headline Saturday night’s intergalactic action. No stranger to reaching for the stars, Norman is the real deal when it comes to hit factories with a back catalogue that will be sure to have your hips swaying and your booty shaking all night long! An absolute must-see, we can guarantee Fatboy Slim will be taking us into orbit. 

Fatboy Slim says: “As a veteran of Sunday Best, Bestival and Common People it seems a hideous oversight that I appear to be a Camp Bestival virgin, especially as a father of two. Consequently myself, Zoe and our two little smashers will be embedded for a weekend of family frolics and nocturnal adventures, be assured we will make up for lost time!” 

A bonafide superstar in the making, we are extremely pleased to announce Jess Glynne will be headlining Friday night at Camp Bestival! One of only two female solo singers to rack up five number one singles, in just over a year Jess has already become one of the UKs most successful singers ever. A frequent collaborator of former Camp headliners, Clean Bandit, Jess’s solo work has taken her beyond the stratosphere, which will make it handy for her when she joins us all in Outer Space! Yes! 

Heading straight for our universe, direct from London’s West End, we’re delighted to announce that the acclaimed adaptation of smash hit children’s book, Aliens Love Underpants will be making a very special appearance at Camp Bestival, too. A zany and hilarious tale delightfully brought to life with stunning effects, madcap action, original music (and lots of aliens of course!) it’s a fantastically fresh and funny production that will delight the whole family. You'll laugh your PANTS off!  

The Aliens Love Underpants team told us: “Hold onto your pants Camp Bestival! We will be setting up spaceship tents and will be on the look-out for camping pants, festival pants and music pants at Lulworth Castle next July! See you in your best briefs!” 

We’re also hugely excited to announce that one of our favourite double acts of all time, Dick and Dom will be blasting back to Lulworth Castle this July to rule the main stage at Spacecamp Dorset. Never less than face-achingly brilliant, expect tongue-in-cheek slapstick, catchphrases galore, and hilarious audience interaction at warp factor 10! 

Commenting on their return to Camp Bestival Dick and Dom said “We promise to be full on luna-tics and very astra-naughty.  We can’t wait!! Three, two, one…. blast off to planet Dick and Dom”.  

And no Camp Bestival would be complete without the greatest cosmic clown known to man, Mr Tumble! The Makaton marvel will be firing the manoeuvring thrusters for one of his trademark sing-along and slapstick sets that will have the tots in a space frenzy! Always a massive draw on the Castle Stage, Mr Tumble is an institution and not to be missed!

And that’s not all! Searching the possibilities of infinite space throughout the weekend, we will also have cosmic joy with Flying Astronauts, Planetarium Shows, Cosmology Workshops, Stargazing, Space Orchestras, Rocket Building, Space Smells, Post A Space Card, Giant Rockets, Build Your Own Planet, Make Space Murals and lots more. With plenty of edifying action from the National Space Centre, The Science Museum, Royal Observatory Greenwich, Okido, Explorer Domes and many more. 

Camp Bestival 2015 Review

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.

Camp Bestival’s Comedy Line-Up Revealed!

Bringing untamed joy to one and all this summer, Camp Bestival 2015 will be going utterly wild with our cortege of top class comedians and clowns. Spreading hilarity across the weekend, our jokers will be joining a gargantuan line-up that includes Underworld, Clean Bandit, Kaiser Chiefs, Ella Henderson, Mr Tumble, Dick and Dom, the Cat in the Hat, Steve Backshall, Michaela Strachan and many, many more this 30 July – 2 August at Lulworth Castle.

Rob da Bank says: “As ever, we have got a great comedy line-up to keep you laughing through the weekend, proving that there’s more than one way to go wild at this year’s Camp Bestival. From our old friend Marcus Brigstocke and the ace Kerry Godliman to some of the circuit’s hottest acts, like Alex Edelman, Sofie Hagen and Jamali Maddix, we’ve got a ton of familiar fun and new discoveries joining us at Lulworth Castle, so make sure you check out all the satire and send-ups in among the madness”.

We’re over the moon that stand up extraordinaire, Marcus Brigstocke will lead this year’s comedy capers. A star of radio, TV and stage, Marcus has done it all, from acclaimed shows for BBC Radio 4, to regularly appearing on Have I Got News for You, QI and even having a turn as King Arthur in Spamalot; he definitely knows how to tickle those funny bones!

Commenting on his headline comedy set in the Big Top Marcus Brigstocke said: “Camp Bestival is always a glorious weekend. I can't wait. It’s a blinding line-up, and a beautiful spot, too”.

We’ll also have side-splitting turns from erstwhile Xtra Factor presenter, and Viral Tap panellist Matt Richardson, Derek’s Kerry Godliman, Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Phil Nichol, award-winning musical comedy EastEnd Cabaret, and Edinburgh Comedy Awards’ Best Newcomer 2014, Alex Edelman. Plus we’ll have comedy sets from Andre Vincent, Dave Johns, Sofie Hagen, Jamali Maddix, Benny Boot, Wayne Deakin, Rob Deering, Damian Clark, and Pete Cain.

There’s still plenty-more wild Camp Bestival action and adventure to be announced so keep checking into the WebsiteFacebookTwitter,InstagramPinterest for more information.

Tickets for Camp Bestival 2015 (July 30th to Aug 2nd) are on sale now via: Ticketline, 0844 888 4410

The Den returns to Camp Bestival

This year, The Den team have really pulled it out of the bag for their Talks and Q&As, starting with a total coup – Off the Record with Professor Green. A massive exclusive for The Den –so that means it’s for teens only! – Camp Bestival head honcho, Rob da Bank, will be interviewing Hackney’s finest lyrical genius about everything from breaking into the music business, to topping the charts. Totally unmissable!

The Den will also have the honour of welcoming BBC Radio 1 star, Dr Radha, for a very specialThe Den Surgery with Dr Radha, plus they’ll have the inspirational story of the youngest ever Poetry Slam world champion, Harry Baker – The Sunshine Kid, and everything you need to know about getting yourself heard online, with our Blogging: How To! With Teen Vogue.

You’ll also be able to get the inside track at the Give-It-A-Go Sessions across the weekend. You can perfect your festival swag with DIY Festival Fashion, or enjoy energising morning action with Disco Yoga. Liberate your inner poet with Cecilia Knapp in Spoken Word 101, or use creative writing to try out a bit of self-discovery with Getting To Grips! You can also get involved with the amazing BRIT School to learn the moves from chart-smashing vids with Music Video Masterclass, join Laurie Bolger who will help you create inventive and adventurous poems in Poetry & Lyrics, or learn free-running from the experts and be blown away by their demos with Parkour Pop-Up. The Den will also play host to Spoken Word including coming of age act Finding Home, Roundhouse performance poet, Maria Ferguson, thought provoking verse in an exclusive appearance from Samuel King and Laurie Bolger who has been shortlisted as London's Young Poet Laureate.

If you’re coming for the beats then The Den: Afterhours! is for you, with an amazing array of DJs, live acts, dancers and drummers taking you into the night. Friday night’s flavour isDancehall, and there will be hula madness aplenty with hosts Marawa and the Majorettes, Saturday sees a Totally Tropical Takeover, and Sunday will be Wild! And live music in The Den will come from Rats In Me Kitchen, Pocket Club, Rive, Karyma and Eden Roxx.

And, situated right alongside The Den will be Rob da Bank’s Music Club. Putting on exclusive workshops, demonstrations, inspirational speakers and general chill out, with music and performance for 13 – 17 year-olds – it’s only teens allowed. So, come, be inspired, entertained and learn the occasional thing along the way!

Camp Bestival 2015 DJ Lineup announced

Making Bollywood his home from home, we’re massively pleased to announce a perennial favourite of our Jurassic Coast amusements, it’s the return of David Rodigan MBE presents Ram Jam, featuring a very special extra appearance from DJ Yoda, and skank-tatsic sets from Prince Fatty, Artwork & Venum Sound and the man himself. We’ll also have Bollywood-based family fun and joy-inducing beats courtesy of Norman Jay MBE presents Good Times, plus late night action with eclectic treats from The Specials’ frontman Terry Hall, and dancefloor spanking bass from Music Mondays & World of Rave with sets from Billy Daniel Bunter, Slipmatt, Rat Pack, Ragga Twins, Uncle Dugs, Jerome Hill, and DJ Faydz.

Keeping Bollywood bouncing all weekend long, we’ll also have epic sets from Camp Bestival’s wildest man Rob da Bank, house music don Ralph Lawson, world music connoisseur Andy Kershaw, and 78 specialists The Shellac Collective, plus we’ll have Big Swing Soundsystem, Balearic Brothers, DJ Dapper Dan and our old friends the Mix It UP DJ Kru.

Bollywood won’t be the only place to cut some rug during the weekend though, you’ll be able to go wild on a sound safari across the site with off the wall behaviour atCaravanserai with Chris Tofu & friends, channel hopping, sing-along-a-madness at the Silent Discos with the Sunday Best Allstars, enjoy naughty After Hours Party Tunes at the Blue Coats Clubhouse and boogie on down to the Showmany Calliope’s Daily Discos!

We know that the kids love nothing more than busting a move or fifty, so we’ve got plenty of dancefloor madness in store for them (and, let’s face it, you), too, with Kids Discos in Bollywood. Featuring daily doses of afternoon fun from Big Fish Little Fish, Friday b-boy shenanigans with Fun DMC, and a series of workshops from Carnival Dance to the lowdown from the BRIT school, it’s all going off!