Where: Dorset, UK
When: 27th – 30th July
Who: Mark Ronson, Madness, Brian Wilson
Price: £197 (weekend ticket incl. camping)
This weekend just gone (27th-30th July), I was lucky enough to be at the quaint, cute, and family-fronted festival in Dorset- Camp Bestival. Now celebrating its 10th birthday, Camp Bestival has scooped up the Best Family Festival award four times in its decorated past, previously boasting headliners such as Chuck Berry, De La Soul, Underworld, and at this year’s event- Mark Ronson, Madness and Brian Wilson. Also set to perform at the home of Lulworth Castle in 2017, include the likes of Leftfield, Anne-Marie, Dub Pistols, Skream and Kate Nash.
Despite being marketed at and for all, I wasn’t necessarily prepared for just how much of a family and kid-friendly festival Camp Bestival would be, despite the abundance of child-centred attractions all on offer (School of Rock: The Musical, Dick N Dom, Mr Tumble). And what naturally comes with that, is one of the most pleasant, warm and welcoming festival environments I’ve ever been to. Whether running round splashing in mud and puddles, or soaking up the sights on their parents’ shoulders, or indeed conked out in their pushchairs, the little ones at Camp Bestival clearly weren’t dampened or bothered by a regular on-off supply of rain throughout the weekend.Without a child or two in tow, me and my colleague were hilariously outnumbered by toddlers, children, very early teenagers, and of course babies, who were blessed with a seemingly endless array of attractions, stalls, workshops, displays and initiatives. From simple sandpits and a skatepark, to a Chelsea FC-fronted football pitch, to Rob Da Bank’s music club, which provided hourly workshops for kids on learning new musical instruments. There’s also something particularly heartwarming to see children man the entry box offices (along with their whole families), giving you a flavour of what to expect in terms of the young’ns integrity to the event.
Musically, Mark Ronson had some trouble catering to a vastly younger audience, accidentally swearing (and then apologising) on more than one occasion, and also playing Lil Wayne’s gorgeously inappropriate A Milli- a song that boasts the infamous rhyming of ‘venereal disease’ with ‘menstrual bleed’. Madness proved that they’ve still got more than enough left in the tank, with a professional Saturday night headline performance, while Brian Wilson did his best to replicate a California evening, despite the rain, and his age-related backseat within his band’s performance. Other stand-out sets from the weekend included All Saints, House Gospel Choir, The Skints, and of course Leftfield, who put on an unmissable finale, one that revisited their groundbreaking debut album Leftism.As is the case with Bestival, Camp Bestival is evidently and meticulously planned with the attendee in mind. With a string of toilets around every corner, helpful security or staff always within an arm’s reach, and perhaps most importantly, with the child in mind at all times, Camp Bestival is the only festival environment I would whole-heartedly recommend for children. There are simply no drugs, no drunkards, no malice, no adolescent nuisances, no ill feeling, and one of the warmest, safest events I’ve been to. There is so much on offer, so much to keep them entertained, and once they’ve nodded off in the evening, there’s a chance to relive your yesteryears, with a nostalgic set or two from the artists on offer. If you have kids or younger siblings, I cannot urge you to take them along to Camp Bestival enough.
+ Safest, friendliest event out there.
+ Only truly child-friendly major festival.
+ Abundance and variation of attractions and entertainments.
+ Well managed, executed and organised.
+ Staff and facilities.
+ Price, staggered depending on age.
+ Free entry for babies.
+ Quick and painless entry and exit.
+ Barely any queues for anything.
+ No access to set times or schedule until arrival.