Camp Bestival …… from pre school to Old Skool!
It would appear that the so-called mini family festivals we enjoyed last year had been building up and preparing us for this year’s biggie – Camp Bestival. Camp Bestival bills itself as the ‘Greatest Family Show on earth’and this pretty much summed it up for us.
Now one thing I should warn readers of is that I am most definitely NOT a camper. If there’s another option going I will usually be the first to take it so I knew this would be an interesting experience, and with two toddlers even more so! Anxiously studying the weather time and time again in the lead up to the festival, we packed everything we could squeeze into the car with us to cover every eventuality. A long journey down to Lulworth Castle in Dorset on the Thursday and then it was all go to set about finding the flattest square of grass (on the rolling hills) to set up our temporary home.
As non-campers we own little to no camping equipment so after some research on the Camp Bestival website, we preordered a tent and all the essentials through Halfords to collect on arrival. This was a fab idea that I cannot recommend enough. The service meant we didn’t have to lug the equipment from the car all the way to the campsite, the tent, mattresses and sleeping bags were very reasonably priced making it good value for money (and equipment we can now use time and time again) and they had experts and equipment on hand in case you needed any advice or recommendations etc.
While hubby set up the tent the kids and I sat back and soaked up the atmosphere. The first thing I noticed was the number of children, it is a family friendly festival but I never imagined there would be so many children, way outnumbering the adults. The campsite was very clean and on first appearances seemed well organised with a good set up.
The festival officially starts on the Friday running through to late Sunday so Thursday is all about settling in and gearing up for the madness ahead. The 3-day festival takes a similar itinerary for each of the days – set across the beautifully manicured grounds of the Lulworth Castle, the festival is comprised of a mix of stages with acts, interactive areas and food stands.
First up I’ll mention the stage entertainment – the main stages are where the headline acts perform. During the day headliners were artists such as Mr Tumble and Ben and Holly whereas during the evenings it was more of an adult environment with acts such as Sophie Ellis Bexter, Sinead O’Connor and Basement Jaxx. The volume varied greatly depending on where you were standing which is perfect if parents are worried about smaller children, and far from my concerns of pushing and shoving in a mosh pit stylee, it was very civilised with families setting up plankets, enjoying picnics between acts and kids running about freely.
The lower meadow is predominantly aimed at kids and was the Mason’s haven for the weekend. Marquees and tents adorn the field filled with every possible craft activity you can imagine which alternated each day meaning you could return to the same tent and find a whole new range of activities. Grace and Noah really enjoyed making flags for the parade, painting in Art Town and building towers with the Duplo. Centred around a bandstand, various bands performed with inspiration from across the globe while roving music and dance acts would sporadically start morris dancing or jigging round a maypole which was fascinating to just stop in your tracks and watch. There was also a number of rides to enjoy including a grand Victorian carousel, helter skelter slide and of course a Big Wheel which were all chargeable for parents and children and a bit of the hefty side for my liking.
As the theme of Camp Bestival for 2014 was ‘Circus’a separate field was dedicated to this. From diablos, hula hoops, unicycles etc, parents and kids could try their hand at circus acts. Older kids wanting to take it a bit further could get one on one tuition with trained professionals on things such as elevated hoops which looked a lot of fun.
One thing I love about festivals is the food. Long gone are the burger vans and greasy meals, it’s all about the local produce and quality. A foodies heaven, the organic local food stands, exotic dishes and good quality family faves were in abundance. Anyone that knows me knows how much I adore garlic so the garlic stand was a daily stop off for a garlic bread or garlic chilli (I am hungry thinking about it as I type!) I also have to give kudos to the Saucy Chips’chilli cheese fries (very calorific I know!) however I think many of the passers by were tantalised by all of the fantastic smells and adorning sights of the curries, mac and cheese, fish finger sandwiches, chocolate brownies…..you name it, it was there. There was a good variety of food for adults and children with many stands offering child-sized portions and even some pop up restaurants set up especially for children.
The biggest question since my return has been about the facilities. As a novice camper, being in unfamiliar surroundings was a big concern beforehand. A potty proved to be useful but surprisingly not essential. Toilets are either portals – very clean and well kept, or long drop/composting toilets in adult and mini child sizes – also reasonably clean. While Grace got in a panic about being able to view the waste in the long drops, older children seemed to enjoy the novelty of flushing their contents down with wood chippings. For a little luxury there were the When Nature Calls posh toilets and at £2 a pop they guaranteed a clean after each use. For washing we took along our flexibath for the kids and filled it with warmed water while the general shower facilities were very clean and again not half as unpleasant as expected. Had the weather have been against us I am not sure they would have kept as clean but we were pretty lucky with the weather, something I am so thankful for.
We had an amazing fun filled weekend and there’s far too much for me to round up in this review so i’ll keep the best of the rest limited to a couple of key word sentences to hopefully provide you with a lasting flavour of our fantastic and exhausting long weekend. Storytelling in the woods, bouncy castles, pom pom making, Laura Mvula, fireworks, massages, jousting, fancy dress, cocktails, big bear balloon disco, sun bathing, choirs….
For further information on Camp Bestival, visit www.campbestival.net. Early bird tickets are on sale for 2015 with the following costs:
Adult Weekend Ticket (inc camping) £195
Children under 4 are free, children aged 5-10 £20, 11-14 £88 and 15-17 £113
by Laura Mason
Mum to 2 Under 3 and just finished maternity leave, Laura is a journalist and Mum. She enjoys reviewing products with her children, exploring new trends and more importantly, life as a mummy. ‘Continuously trying to get a ‘grip’ of motherhood and back to a size 10!’
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