Written by Steven Paul Griffiths.
Who said taking kids to a festival would be stressful?
It seems Camp Bestival have cracked the formula for keeping everybody happy.
It was with a little trepidation I ask a family of five children (all under 10!) “Are you enjoying the weekend?” the immediate response is ‘yes’, this ‘yes’ echoes across the site and throughout the weekend!
The children adore the constant source of activities available. At the age of six how often do you get the chance to make your own Pirate ship, be entertained by Dick N Dom then have Mr Nice read you Snow White? All whilst being serenaded by the Buzzcocks! (Not that the kids quite understand the abstract moment as renowned Hardman Mr Nice reads them bedtime stories). Every festival has its seedy underbelly of partying, however, and Camp Bestival was no exception. The blend of talented artist and close proximity of ages with ‘Doing Stuff’ tents meant that everyone coexists without a feeling of pressure or constant second-guessing the schedule. Maybe not feeling pressured is the mantra for Camp Bestival? The without child, the Family’s, the Artists and the Staff were all smiling all the time.
It was of course hard not to smile when you consider the breadth of what was on show. Not every festival has Mr Tumble, George the Poet, Level 42 and Kaiser Chiefs on the same stage on the same day. The ‘Greatest Tent on Earth’ switches throughout the day between live theatre, comedy and music. This makes it either very difficult to leave or very difficult to stay. Shows such as ‘My Pet Monster and Me’, ‘West End Kids’ and Michaela Strachan are personal and captivating… Not that I watched myself… Honest!
The Guardian Institute offers a plethora of readings from Nigel Warburton, Bill Oddie, Sara Cox, Dick N Dom, Mr Nice and so many more artists that entice you to forget about the music, curl up on a blanket and pretend to be 7 again. Saturday’s highlight is 808 State drawing everyone to the ‘Big top’ ready for the late night Silent Disco which went on until the very small hours. The Bestival famous Bollywood stage was source of constant entertainment which becomes more incapsulating as the night progresses, with Rob Da Bank, Ralph Lawson & Andy Kershaw being the pick of a fantastic bunch.
The Main Stage attracts a slew of professionals. On Friday, Buzzcocks do what Buzzcocks do, and the crowd loved them for it, however Wretch 32 steals the show. He brings such a wealth of talent with him: this constantly energised and powerful performance captures a pleasant crowd. Then in an inspiring opening night run, Professor Green is followed by Clean Bandit and the kids are kaput.
Saturday puts its faith in the kids in a different respect, with Moyet looking youthful and sounding fresh. The Crazy world of Arthur Brown delivers showstopper moments, however, such as Arthur wrestling a keyboard across the stage with a look of pure mischievous insanity across his face. The Kaiser Chiefs stomp, kick and connect with a receptive Camp Bestival clan, giving a performance that nobody wanted to end.
Sunday is the festival’s strongest day. Bob Geldof speeds through a slew of Boom town rats classics with his solo set, whilst Soul II Soul stand out and blow away the cobwebs. Camp Bestival favourite Kate Tempest woos the crowd with her sheer infectious happiness in her third consecutive year at Dulworth Castle. Whilst pleasant, it was Underworld that bring a sense Euphoria to a crowd that should have probably been curled up with a blanket by that time. As ‘Born Slippy‘ plays out, a momentary pause is shattered as the castle exploded into light for the start of an a raucous, inspiring firework display, Camp Bestival is setting the bar very high for its self as the closing night firework displays get bigger and bigger. To top that next year, they’ll need a nuke.
When family friendly is done as well as Camp Bestival you start to realise that whether you’re camping solo, as part of a group or with the family it honestly doesn’t matter, it is about great music, great atmosphere and happy people.All of which were in plentiful supply this weekend.