For many people a love of music festivals doesn’t stop once they’re out of their teenage years or early twenties, but their tastes in the kind of festival they attend does. In the same way that as you grow older your musical preferences may change or expand, so may your choice in these outdoor cities of musical heaven. Glastonbury, Reading or V are often where people lose their virginity (of the festival kind as well as possibly sexual), drawn by big names, heavy media exposure, and peer group pressure, but after a number of these events there may be a temptation to try something different. It’s at this point that there may be a realisation that the best festivals are often the ones that offer something a little unique and unexpected and that the sum of the parts of the festival – the infrastructure, the atmosphere, the organisation as well as the music make the great festivals stand out from a very busy and cluttered crowd.
Camp Bestival very much offers the unique with half of its 30,000 punters being children. Back in 2007 Mr Bestival himself -Rob da Bank - decided, over a couple of glasses of red wine, that there was a small gap in the festival market for what became Camp Bestival and began the process of bringing the event to life for its debut in 2008.
When you normally think of the family market you probably think of the smell of plastic and chips, ball parks, a lack of style and something very uncool. Yet Camp Bestival turns all this on this on its head.
Set in the grounds of Lulworth Castle, Dorset, the site is beautifully decorated bringing Creative Director Josie Da Bank's vision to life. Flags, bunting, the Women’s Institute Tea Tent, the hidden delights of the woods in the Dingly Dell Trail, medieval jousting, pamper lounges, the Bollywood Bar, the Wonderland Inn – Camp Bestival is far from just a bunch of marquees thrown up in a field with some bands playing. Then there’s the bands – an eclectic mix of those for the mums and dads to have a nostalgia trip (ABC, Blondie, The Wonderstuff, House Of Pain), things for teenagers (Katy B, Wretch 32, Yasmin, Labrinth), stuff for folk-heads (Laura Marling, James Vicnent McMorrow, Alessi’s Ark, Caitlin Rose) plus some of the best up and coming new acts (Yaaks, Fenech Soler, Ed Sheeran) and that’s before we’ve even mentioned Primal Scream, Mark Ronson, Clare Maguire and a certain DJ Collective known as the Sunday Best Forum Allstars of which Breaking More Waves has a rather large input into.
And for those who hate the idea of the dreaded festival toilet, last year Camp Bestival had some of the cleanest toilets we’ve ever seen.
Then there’s the kids entertainment. Far too many festivals bill themselves as family friendly and then make token gestures. Camp Bestival goes the whole hog. The kids field is huge – but cleverly the layout incorporates enough attractions to ensure that mums and dads have stuff to keep them entertained as well with the bandstand stage being located in the lower kids garden as well as a nice big bar and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s The River Cottage Café, so mum and dad can eat a fresh mackerel burger and enjoy a pint of real ale or cider whilst watching their kids enjoy the endless attractions. Shrek The Musical, Dick and Dom, The English National Ballet workshops for children, the insect circus, dressing up areas, circus skills, family films, DJ Jo Whiley hosting a picnic, the house of fairy tales and The Gruffalo are just a few of the huge number of excitements for children. Then there’s literature for all in the East Lulworth literary tent, the highlights of which include Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox presenting How to be a mum, have a career and leave time to eat sushi, Carl Barat of The Libertines being interviewed, Marcus Brigstocke and kids author Cathy Cassidy.
Camp Bestival may not be for those who think that getting their rocks off, shovelling down a load of drugs, drinking 10 cans of cider and weeing on someone’s tent in the campsite is a perfect weekend, but Camp Bestival shows brilliantly that festivals with children can and do work – and that everyone can go home happy and waiting for it all to start again next year.
As always with our festival previews, here are a few recommendations of the newer bands that are appearing at Camp Bestival, which takes place on the 28-31 July. Breaking More Waves will bring a review of Camp Bestival 2011 shortly after that.
YaaksHRHRHYTHM by YAAKS