This is my review of Camp Bestival.
This post is for you, if you are sitting on the fence about festivals. If you think you *might* like to try a festival with children. If you loved festivals before you had kids but are not sure now.
Camp Bestival in its 6th year is the ultimate family festival set in the grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset.
To enter Camp Bestival is to enter a magical bubble, it casts a spell. As you turn your back on your car for the weekend and walk into the site, you leave the everyday. It’s about what to do next or later. The outside world fades. It is a place where routine doesn’t matter. Children stay up late. They run and shout, happy to be outside. Bubbles seem always to be floating by. Adults channel their inner child in fancy dress and party clothes. A place for spending time together as a family. Sitting on a blanket listening to new music (DJ Fresh -who knew he was so good) and music from days before responsibilities (Heaven 17).
Being entranced by the knights of Lulworth jousting as much as your child. Pimms in the afternoon while your 5 year old hola hoops in front of the disco shed. If your bubba is over tired and has one of *those* tantrums people get it. The atmosphere is relaxed and very happy.
Whatever your style, if dressing up isn’t for you, no one minds. Camp Bestival will surprise you with just how much it packs in and with the thoughtful details that make it special. A baby chill out area, a silent disco. Camp Bestival is many things it’s loud and frenetic. The Soul Park is peaceful and calm.
It has as much for children as it does for adults. I listened to a guy enthuse about DJ Sasha, he had simply had a brilliant night of dancing, in a tent he described as “packed full of 40 somethings”.
Camping with kids is easier than you think. A day of fresh air and an amazing itinerary means when they sleep, they sleep well. Tattoo Mummy has a brilliant guide here. We took a small tent (easier to carry) and some basic supplies for my son.
We treated ourselves to festival food. There are food tents aimed at kids and freshly produced local sourced food with adults in mind.
We arrived just after lunch on Friday, later than the majority of people, there was still plenty of places to camp. We had no problems with traffic or getting onto the site (unlike 2010 when I sat in traffic for hours). At Camp Bestival it’s in the detail.
Baby change facilities, soft play for the under 5’s. Craft and activities that appeal to toddlers through to older children. Comedy and bands for all the family and just the adults. The site is safe and secure, security are a discreet presence, teens can wander unhindered by parents, hanging in small groups in the free-sports area.
I’ve had two Camp Bestival experiences, my first with a 2 and half year old. On Sunday the memories that came flooding back from our Camp Bestival of 2010. Memories of spending quality time with my little boy, smiling as I watched him explore the plethora of things to do, see and experience at Camp Bestival and watch his view of the world expand.
This time round my son is now 5 and a half, as we sat watching youths on bikes back flip through the air, him eating a Purbeck ice cream (it’s local to the area) discussing the various things we’d done that day; a dinosaur zoo, sing a long to a screening of the Jungle Book, been splatted by Dick and Dom, made bugs in the imaginative Dingly Dell, and a family session of clay making (it was only mid-afternoon). I had the same sense of quality time and pleasure of what had been gifted to him by taking him to Camp Bestival. The memories we had created. It was a good moment.
All weekend I caught snippets of conversations “it was awesome” “wow, look at that” “really, it’s so nice and relaxing”.
Where in a weekend can a child fly a Harris Hawk, feel motorbikes whoosh by on the wall of death? Experience music, theatre, comedy, story telling, craft, dance. Have to opportunity to participate as much as to be the audience. Or just hang out in the tent mid afternoon and do some colouring. As much as we did do, there where loads of things we didn’t get around to. I wanted to spend more time in the Guardian Literary tent listening to authors.
At the time of our first Camp Bestival, my partner, wasn’t keen on camping. He stated “I don’t do festivals”. I went with friends. Having embraced camping, I convinced him to join us this year. I admit, I had reservations. On Friday, within 20 minutes of our first explore, he declared; “it’s so nice, so relaxed, such a good atmosphere” (He loved John Cooper Clarke, the Wall of Death (4 times over) and the birds of prey). Camp Bestival captured him.
I defy anyone not to be caught by the magic of Camp Bestival.
On Monday morning, the rain came. A little bit tired, we trudged back to our car in our wellies, all in need of a bath, lost in thoughts of the weekend. The silent was broken by my son:
“Mummy, Camp Bestival is really great”.
“It is, my love, it is”.
Tickets for 2014 go on sale on Friday. Don’t sit on the fence, be a part of it.
Disclosure: Was given a family pass in exchange for writing about Camp Bestival. All words and opinions are my own.
Photo credit: Harris Hawk, Wall of Death, Cyclist Mr Noo (all the very good ones)