We’ve always been a bit wary of being the token person at Camp Bestival without a child. So we dispatched Caroline Polledri to be that person for us.
‘The Castle’s been polished, the grass has been cut, the sun has been warned to stay here all weekend and the site’s looking blooming lovely… and to top it all we’ve sold out so happy days. Can’t wait to see you all down here… enjoy the festival!’ – Bestival Founder DJ Rob Da Bank
Replacing its royal predecessors were now hoards of bohemian families and friends arriving laden with everything but the kitchen sink (however a few chests of draws and a couple of sofas were spotted). They came in search of a breezy, unobtrusive outdoor event that has no time for the ostentatious festival goer or wreckhead, and at Camp Bestival, that’s exactly what they got.
This wasn’t just a party for the young or an arena for the flashiest headliner of the year – It was an experience, for one and all, a place for you to be and do what you wanted. Whether your chosen alter ego was a fairy, a goblin, a knight, a sea monster, or your own creation, you could be what you wanted without a hint of diffidence. The mega bonus was that you were allowed your own food and drink anywhere in the festival, (although of course you can purchase it too), this made it a lot easier for families to keep their spending to a minimum. In fact, it would have been quite difficult to overspend there at all as there wasn’t much for sale.
Most activities and rides for children were free and with more than enough options, there weren’t overwhelming queues you had to wait anxiously in. One couple were overheard saying, this was the longest time they’d gone without hearing the phrase “can I have money for a…” from their little darlings and I’m sure they weren’t the only ones. Amongst this children’s wonderland, was The Paul Frank tent proving a delight, children had the chance to meet Julius the Monkey, have some free body art and enjoy the arts and crafts, all for free. There were also adult inspired deck chairs which meant parents could lounge around while their children made full use of the paddling pool and played table tennis. Other highlights for families to fill their days were numerous shows they could watch, whether they favoured, Dick and Dom, the ZingZilla’s or the Sooty Show, they were all there!
By the afternoon, little angels were sat gazing up at characters from west end stage show Shrek the Musical, performing their hits or hearing a story in the Literary Area. There was something on constantly to keep them occupied and not to mention hands on cooking and craft tents. As the sun went down and the days drew to a close, satisfied sleeping children were carted around in padded trolleys, blissfully dreaming of their fairytale surroundings and the adventures they’d stumbled across that day.
This meant that the adults finally got their chance to satisfy their own their own appetite of self-expression which involved listening, dancing (and in some cases singing) at the numerous tents and stages. With over 136 performers, spread over three days, Camp Bestival offered a well balanced mixture of all things wonderful.
Well chosen headliners, Mark Ronson and Primal Scream (followed by fireworks) created the loudest buzz, main stage wise. Blondie was equally as favourable, Debbie Harry still has the voice and stage presence she’s always has. This along with in her distinctive and ever changing effortless style made their performance captivating. ABC and House of Pain quenched the thirst of all late 80’s fans, and Eliza Doolittle was vocally faultless and a surprisingly warm entertainer. Groove Armada unfortunately had trouble with their sound levels, the first and last misfortune of this kind and was quickly rectified. Ed Sheeran was talent personified as this decorous, 18 year old one man band astounded everyone in the Big Top, he was without a doubt the festival gem and all were in awe of his brilliance. We were spoilt with DJ’s delights such as reggae remixer David Rodigan, who gave a taster of his Dubwize Shower album, which now comes highly recommended. Both A Skillz and Jaguar Skillz were there to provide the music debauchery, producing equally mesmerising mashes and masterful mixes. A Skillz offering a slightly more melodic cutting and pasting mix, but Jaguar edging out in front with his trademark, skilful introduction of comedy sound bites and TV theme tunes. DJ Derek was also there with his signature blend of ’60s Rock steady reggae and SKA, with a suggestion of soul and his iconic dancehall music.
The days and nights were full to the brim of anything you could ask for and Camp Bestival managed to bring together and cater for everyone. With not much evidence of merely taking and making money, there also seemed to be no ego behind it. This festival proved itself as an experience anyone could and should have, no matter what age. It’s fun, there aren’t many rules and it makes you happy – exactly how a festival should be. Lord Bindon would be proud or more aptly Lord Da Bank.
– Caroline Polledri