Camp Bestival has many reasons to be the Best Family Festival, it’s , so don’t just take my word for it. This year was our third Camp Bestival and it did not disappoint. It has a magic all it’s own. The sheer breadth of things to do for adults and children, the communal bubble of the festival experience, the collective highs of sunshine and good times and the smiles through the collective lows of rain.
These are our 10 reasons Camp Bestival 2014 rocked:
The shared joy of standing in a field, completely caught in the music and the moment. Along with several thousand other people all captured, the throng of the crowd, the unity of everyones’ hands in the air. It is a special thing. Once again, I saw bits of performances, like picking at a musical buffet. A bit of De La Soul, a bit of Sinead O’Connor, a bit of Chas and Dave, a bit Basement Jaxx. All of it tasted good.
2. The Gandinis
Each year Camp Bestival has a theme, this year it was the circus. Festival-goers dressed up variously as ring masters, clowns and human cannon balls. We failed to rise to the challenge but in keeping with the circus theme and in the greatest tent on earth, we saw Thea fabulous juggling group, so good we saw them twice.
3. The Feast Collective
Camp Bestival surpassed itself in terms of offering fine festival food. The Feast collective, an eclectic collection of small producers creating innovative and delicious food. We tried a few….
Migli, gorgeous vegetarian. Crayfish Bob, satisfying gumbo. Dorshi, Asian street food.
4. The Guardian Literary Tent
This tent sits, slightly conspicuously, in the children’s field. It is spacious and inviting. Sofas to lure passers-by. Calm in the frenetic festival space. A place of the spoken word. Previously, I’d only ever peeked into the Guardian Tent, this year I *lost* my family for a while and enjoyed the delights. Listened to a fascinating discussion on Home Birth/modern maternity services. Followed by the funny and informative Knackered Mother’s Wine club, no wine, just chat. Equally quenching. I took notes. Both sessions hosted by the witty Scummy Mummies. Later, I snuck into Jo Whiley reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was packed, an audience mesmerised.
5. Dingley Dell Project Wild Thing Take over and National Trust 50 things meadow.
The Dingley Dell is one of my favorite things about Camp Bestial and one of my son’s. A wooded area with a few small additions becomes an imaginative, magical space for children. Ian the Story Teller casts his spell across transfixed children gathered under trees. A place to explore and play. Just when we thought we had reached the end, we stepped through a gate to the ’50 things meadow’, where the National Trust invited children to try a host of simple but fun outdoor activities. We crafted with bug rangers and rolled down hills. Festivals are about being outdoors, the Dingley Dell was a reminded to keep getting outdoors.
6. Hanging out: The Upper and Lower Kids Fields
Just sitting on a blanket, out in the sunshine, enjoying music, craft, science, a giant sandpit. Acrobats, circus skills….. the list of things to see and do was endless. My 6 year old son loved all of it.
7. Brilliant distractions and discoveries
On Sunday night heading for the main stage, we passed Pig’s Big Ballroom, a glamorous and intimate tent attached to a fabulous collection of caravans re-crafted into a bar. Drawn to the sound of blue grass/rockabilly, we stepped inside to find our selves part of the small audience enjoying The Dodge Brothers and on double bass and harmonica Mark Kermode (aka BBC film critic). This is why I love Camp Bestival, the unexpected discoveries.
8. Pop up performances
Across the weekend we were witness to various pop-up performances, performers who suddenly appeared on a patch of grass, close up to great shows. We loved Caravan of the Lost Souls and spent Sunday hoping they would re-appear. We were beguiled by Kawa performing Jaipur traditional circus. On Saturday we stumbled across No Limit Street Band playing infectious tunes on brass. We stopped, we sang, we danced.
9. Peter Hook
I used to love a party, there are certain anthems that sing to my heart. I had no intention of going to see Peter Hook. Passing the Big Top the enthusiasm of the crowd was infectious. Once inside, the atmosphere electric. Mr Hook banged out the tunes and the audience loved it. ‘Blue Monday’ was a moment.
10. Just Camp Bestival really
Rob and Josie Da Bank create a family friendly pop-up world, a magical bubble. A weekend to leave cares behind. To live in the moment. I don’t come away from Camp Bestival feeling anything other than satisfied. Yes, it would have been nice to drink cocktails in the Jam Jar bar and eat at the Surplus Supper club, but actually, every thing we did do was wonderful and memorable. We don’t feel we missed anything, we came away happy with all the fabulous things we did. It rained for a bit, we had water-proofs and a Camp Bestival colouring book. We sheltered in the tent, aware there were lots of other tents we could shelter in and still be doing things. The rain stopped, the ground dried quickly and on we festival-ed.
2015 Early Bird Tickets on Sale here.
Disclosure: I am a Camp Bestial Official Blogger. All words and opinions are entirely my own.