Voted ‘Best Family Festival’ in 2009 and 2013, Bestival’s sister festival Camp Bestival took place from the 31st July-3rd August in East Lulworth. Situated in the grounds of Lulworth Castle, the event, which first took place in 2008, attracts thousands of families each year. This year’s event featured performances from Sinead O’Connor, Basement Jaxx and Sophie Ellis Bextor.
The site of Camp Bestival is incredibly beautiful; on arrival, you’re greeted by stunning views of the Dorset countryside. The site itself is set on steep, rolling hills, so be prepared to be walking up and down a lot! If you’re not attending with a family or young children, I would advise that you walk further from the car park in order to reach the designated non- family camping. Being woken up (very early) by a chorus of crying children in neighbouring tents isn’t the best way to start the day!
The site itself was beautifully decorated with flags, bunting and a lot of colour! On the Thursday of the festival, I took the opportunity to familiarise myself with the site, but many areas were closed off. I understand this was to prepare for the main days of the festival, but it meant that thousands of festival goers had to funnel through narrow pathways. Once the festival had truly begun, the site itself was sprawling. Although the majority of activities are focused on children, I found myself enjoying being a part of them too. The brilliant Butlins style Bluecoats got crowds dancing, even at 10am! In the Bollywood tent, a children’s disco took place in the mornings before most festival goers would even be out of bed. For older teenagers and adult guests, a Silent Disco took place in the Big Top on the Friday and Saturday nights. The silent discos were a clever way of keeping all guests happy; those who wanted to sleep could do so without being disturbed by loud music. While it’s clear that Camp Bestival is focused primarily on families, it ensures that other festival goers don’t feel isolated – there’s something for everyone.
Overall, the highlight of the festival for me was the Guardian Literary Institute. Situated in a small tent littered with an array of sofas and armchairs, guests could take a break from the whirlwind of colour and noise outside and listen to talks from authors and performances from poets. I particularly enjoyed performances from the Roundhouse Poetry Collective on the Friday of the festival. A few of the poets had recently graduated and performed poetry about their experiences as students and Joel Auterson’s clever Taylor Swift inspired break up poem was amazing!
Public Service Broadcasting delivered a strong performance. Combining eerie air raid siren sounds with heavy beats is certainly an eclectic mix but it definitely worked and both parents and children alike enjoyed their set on the Castle Stage. Friday night headliner Johnny Marr truly held his own on the same stage and performed both his own music and classic Smiths tracks including ‘How Soon is Now’ and ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ which the crowd sang enthusiastically along to.
Highly anticipated acts Basement Jaxx and Laura Mvula both delivered impressive and well received sets on the Castle Stage, however, musically, the highlight of the festival for me was MNEK, who performed to a packed Big Top tent. People who had been sitting down at the start of the set got to their feet and danced solidly for the duration of his performance! MNEK and his band were truly fantastic. The 19 year old producer and singer-songwriter really connected with the audience and even proudly took a picture of them. He played a mash-up of two of his most popular tracks, ‘Ready for Your Love’ and Duke Dumont’s ‘Need U’, which he wrote, as well as new tracks ‘Wrote a Song About You’ and ‘Every Little Word.’
Finished off with a truly incredible firework display, Camp Bestival 2014 combined colourful tents, child friendly activities and exciting acts for a fun, family focused festival.
A limited number of Earlybird tickets for Camp Bestival 2015 are on sale now. For more information, visit the Camp Bestival website.