Camp Bestival 2013
1-4 August 2013
Reviewed by Michelle Wright
This year I was given the fabulous opportunity to review Camp Bestival on a gloriously sunny weekend in August. I had looked at Camp Bestival in previous years and each year kept meaning to go. Living in Manchester it seemed such a long way to Dorset but this year we combined it with a few days after the event to explore this beautiful county and off we set on our long drive!
The festival is set in the amazing grounds of Lulworth Castle on the Dorset Coast. Now in its sixth year, the festival is getting bigger and better, attracting bigger and better acts and is attended by people from all over the country! It's marketed as a children's festival and I was intrigued to see what could be so different about it.
We were lucky to have tickets for the weekend camping and this year it had been opened to caravans and trailer tents too. The field we camped in was a 30 minute walk from the actual festival itself – far enough for it to be quieter in the evening but not too far to walk – however after a long day and achy legs at the festival there were always the fabulously decorated golf buggy festivtaxis to use which literally dropped you off wherever you wanted!
The festival was spread over numerous fields, each with its own programme of events which started at around 9am and then continued through the day and evening, some finishing in the early hours of the morning. This worked perfectly well for younger children who wanted to see Mr Tumble during the day whilst the teenagers slept in recovering from a late and heavy night, and as the little ones returned back to their camping units, the teenagers were on their way out to start their night!
Without a doubt my 7 year olds favourite area was Dingley Dell – an area she insisted we visited daily! The enchanted area is created in woodland where you can make fairy houses and potions, dress up using supplied props and chalk on toadstools made of wood – there is also a story tent area full of cushions for snuggling down and being enchanted away to a land of magic. At night time Dingley Dell seemed even more magical, with dragon sculptures carefully lit up which lead us to a shadow puppetry area.
There really was something for all ages, boys and girls and big children and little children! There was a science tent, a soul park, dance space, free sports park, and a music area to name but a few, acts took to the stage in numerous venues at the same time – which took advance planning so you didn't miss the acts you wanted to see! Many headline names were on the Castle stage – an amazing stage with sound and lights as if you were at Glastonbury. This attracted large acts such as Grand Master Flash, Mark Owen, Ash and one we particularly enjoyed, The Farm – dancing away with all the other 40 year old-ish parents on an amazingly sunny day, with our daughter on my husband’s shoulders is one of my favourite memories of the weekend!
Sasha was on in the amazing Bollywood tent which, when wasn't in use, was a shelter from the sun for the children! We also enjoyed horrible histories and even joined in the Disney planes world record attempt!
The event climaxed to an incredible firework display on the Sunday night, which used Lulworth Castle as a very dramatic back drop! Definitely worth staying for and keeping the kids up late to see.
It really was fabulous and although we were there for 3 days we didn't actually get to see everything! If I could give one tip (and one we will be sorting out next time we visit) it would be to invest in a radio flyer truck (or similar) to pull the children around the fields – we saw so many of these, all decorated with cushions, flowers and even solar lights, perfect for tired little legs.
The toilet and shower facilities in the camping area were, well, all I can describe them as is 'festival like'! This was to be expected in the actual festival fields themselves, but I do think they could have been better in the camping areas – at least the toilets could have been flushing ones! Next time we will be better prepared and bring our own toilet paper and hand sanitiser!
Overall I can't speak highly enough of this festival, and having experienced it, can totally understand why families return year after year. There is even a payment scheme which you can take advantage of to spread the payments over a year. The camping options are numerous – from tents, to boutique camping… so it's definitely worth checking out their website to see which one suits your needs the best.
I have recommended Camp Bestival to so many of my friends already and we will be certainly be attending again in 2014!
10 out of 5 – the highlight of my 2013 summer.
Book your early bird tickets for 2014 at www.campbestival.net