Kids in fairy wings and tails, glow sticks at dusk, coloured lights flickering on Lulworth Castle. Our first evening at Camp Bestival couldn’t have felt more magical if Harry Potter and his Quidditch team had flown right over our heads.
From the moment we arrived, lugging our wheelie cases over gravel and grass to the campsite, to our exit on Monday — tired, sticky and bone-happy — it was like being in a wonderland where anything could happen.
Maybe that’s why it felt perfectly normal on Saturday to bump into the legendary founder of Chic, a vision in white, on our way to the main stage. ‘And there’s Nile Rodgers,’ I said casually, ‘I’m so pleased to meet you.’ ‘Very pleased to meet you too,’ he said, grinning widely.
I spent almost the rest of the day with the hand that shook Nile Rodgers’ pumping the air in a disco frenzy, as the feel-good funk of Earth Wind & Fire, followed by Chic and rounded off with Kool & the Gang lifted us into a state of euphoria.
Mosh & Wash
Earlier on, I’d watched Sophie Ellis Bextor wiping paint off my son’s fingers in Persil’s Mosh & Wash* tent. Sophie couldn’t help giggling at Jed’s face after he’d done the ‘mucky dip’ to win a pair of drumsticks.
‘My 3-year-old’s just the same,’ she told me, ‘so finicky, he hates getting dirty, he doesn’t even like the sandpit!’
The pop star mama of 3 is on tour throughout summer with Mosh & Wash, encouraging families across the UK to ‘get messy with music’. Visit Persil’s Facebook page for a chance to win a mini-festival in your home town complete with Sophie, barista and of course the Mosh & Wash band!
Mosh & Wash tent turned out to be a super cool place to hang, with arts and crafts, cosy bean bags, free tea and coffee (kudos to the hardworking barista), and some rocking karaoke.
To the amazement of many, Persil was providing free washes (spot the machines disguised as speakers!) to all comers.
Getting our clean clothes back fresh and warm out of the washer-dryer was one of the most luxurious sensations – possibly second only to the Posh Wash shower I had on Sunday!
Sights & Sounds
Camp Bestival was a beautiful mash-up of sounds, scenes and flavours for all tastes and ages. Everything from the Freestyle Sports Park (my 6-year-old’s top spot), to English National Ballet workshops to soft play for under 5s and a baby chill-out tent.
I loved that we could start the day watching jousting (featuring some of the world’s best stuntmen), grab a rack from The Ribman at the Young British Foodies tent, then jam to Jimmy Cliff on the main stage.
There were loads of things we didn’t manage to see – Fantastic Mr Fox the Opera, Mr Tumble, Delilah (I did hear a couple of her songs from behind a hedge at the Kids’ Zone), Jimmy Carr – but we never felt like we were missing out, because there was so much else on.
In fact, some of my favourite memories are totally random. Waitresses at the Hurly Burly Theatre Cafe bursting into a dance routine. Unadulterated giggling of kids rolling down the hill at the camp site. Witnessing a wedding in the Big Love Inflatable Church. Ezra and his friend Phoenix going dance crazy in the Bollywood tent. The Confetti wedding disco – cheesy by day and by night, pure raving.
We left Camp Bestival cash poor (warning: those food stands could swallow your wallet whole) but totally enriched in every other sense.
‘Is this your best day, Mum?’ Ezra asked me on Friday. ‘This is my best day EVER!’
And it only got better.
Thanks to our sponsors Persil* and the fantastic Mosh & Wash team for making it happen!
BABES’ BESTIVAL TIPS
I was a bit stressed about going on our first camping and festival trip as the solo adult with 2 kids under 6, and I won’t say it was a breeze, but definitely more manageable than I’d imagined and well worth the effort. We went by train (just 2 hours from Waterloo station) and our trick was to pack as light as possible.
Our Essential Festival Kit
Super lightweight pop-up 3 man tent (Vango 300)
1 double ready bed from Argos (sleeping bag and mattress in one) plus pump
1 extra cover for our bed (from home)
1 large wheelie suitcase to hold bed, cover and pump
1 small wheelie suitcase (pulled by 6-year-old) to hold our clothes and basic toiletries
1 Bog in a Bag (look out for our Festival Toilets review)
2 kids backpacks (contained snacks, toys and Banz ear muffs)
Wellies x 3 (although it didn’t rain)
Baby wipes! (essential for washing everything!)
What I Would Pack Next Time
Extra layers – Thermal vest, leggings, fleece/hoodie, coat (got pretty cold at night).
Torch! (I couldn’t find ours for first couple of nights, borrowed a neighbour’s but it was still really annoying).
Solar charger for phone – My iPhone battery was a let-down and charging stations cost from £4 hour.
Mini gas cooker and kettle – Festival food was extensive but expensive, and cooking some basics e.g. porridge, bacon/sausages, pasta/noodles, tea etc. would have saved tons of cash.
Trolley – you could hire a trolley for £25 to pull your kids and load around but the best ones had been brought from home and were seriously tricked-out!
*We received free tickets, travel and camping gear to cover Camp Bestival. Visit www.campbestival.net
Don’t forget to check out Persil’s Camp Bestival photos and enter to win your own hometown festival on www.facebook.com/persiluk