I’ve been wanting to tell you all about Camp Bestival since we came back, but it’s like when you’re back from holiday and that last piece of luggage sits in the corner of the room, almost daring you to open it.
How do you begin to unpack a suitcase full of so many memories (even the hard ones)? I guess I’ll start from the top.
We arrived on Friday afternoon after most campers had settled in, coming up by train, sharing a taxi from the station (£7 a pop) and feeling that familiar heart swell at seeing Lulworth Castle looming ahead.
We had booked** for boutique camping in Tangerine Fields, a fantastic service where they have your tent (and whatever sleeping gear/equipment you’ve requested) already pitched and waiting for you on arrival.
The only hitch? Tangerine Fields was what every helpful Camp Bestival volunteer worker described as ‘a fair walk’ from the main wristband entry point. I’m talking distance.
Dragging our wheelie suitcases across the gravel, a lovely lady named Kim (whose teenage son was also named Jed) not only helped us but directed us to the brilliant Festaxi (£5 per ride) that would help us cart the rest of our load across to camp. Shout out to Kim and Jed from the Soul Park!
We made friends with our neighbour Neesha and her son River who was even more obsessed with Skylanders than the babes. All three boys could have spent the entire weekend in the Skylanders Trap Team arena tent, testing out the new games (and scoring free merchandise) but we timed their visits cleverly and besides, there was so much more to explore.
Camp Bestival can be totally overwhelming if you try to take it all in at once, or even set your sights too high in terms of activities. For us, the easiest way to approach it is to mark off a couple of things we want to do each day, and then stumble across the rest. Do get a programme (£10) as it comes with a handy pocket-sized version you can hang around your neck for reference.
We couldn’t resist some of the events we’d loved in 2012, like the jousting tournament and another madcap wedding in the disco-happy Big Love Inflatable Church.
What else was cool at Camp Bestival 2014?
Running into the absolutely lovely Marawa the Amazing who recommended we go check out the fun, wacky and occasionally jaw-dropping Insect Circus (also featuring a cameo from Marawa showing off her incredible hoola hoop whirlwind tricks).
Clowning around for this year’s Circus theme and being dazzled by some of the face (and belly) painting and the outfits in the costume parade.
The stunning choreography and light show of Gandini Juggling, remixed with Rob da Bank (Mr Bestival himself) on the turntables. Catching Laurel and Hardy and the ‘Cuban Sisters’ fooling about.
The Piriton ‘weather gods’ who not only handed out free sunglasses and much-needed rain gear during a downpour (Friday’s festival was a sea of yellow Piriton ponchos), but with the Piriton Sneeze Free Garden provided one of the most relaxing and colourful play spaces at the festival.
DJ BBQ who was grilling up a storm and serving up some mean tunes by the Feast Collective tent. Still can’t believe we didn’t get to sample his food, but next time!
When Nature Calls, the amazing luxury festival toilets (£20 for 12 uses was so worth it for us), fast-moving lines, cleaned by an attendant after every single visit!
Meeting up with bloggers @AResidence, @Manneskjur, @MummyBarrow, @HPMcQ, @HelloItsGemma, @BusinessMum, @ChelseaMamma and a few more in the bar for a quick drink.
Then boogieing down with the babes at the Big Fish Little Fish rave in the Bollywood Tent, where we also met a lovely lady from Festival Kidz and her worn-out little man.
Hearing Laura Mvula caress the crowd with her vocals and De La Soul bringing some old school hip hop flavour to the Castle Stage. Jed has been busting moves to De La Soul’s hits compilation every day since!
An Unexpected Ending
Sinead O’Connor’s haunting voice blasting across the fields on Sunday was another highlight but her set happened right before I had a medical emergency and had to rush to the festival hospital.
It’s all a bit of a blur after this but the hospital staff were quick to see me, attentive and kind. Thankfully my camp buddy Neesha took charge of the babes while I was out of action.
We wrapped up the festival not as I’d planned (rocking out to house DJs in the Bollywood tent) but nestled around a campfire in the Soul Park with a handful of parents and sleepy kids in trolleys.
Watching the fireworks finale spark and fizz over the castle, I said a silent prayer for new friends, lost ones and better days ahead.
Camp Bestival 2014 was another unforgettable weekend with my kids and although it ended on a downer for me, I would do it all again in a hop, skip and a heartbeat.
On the Spot– Sara and Connor with Cara age 5 months
‘It’s our first time at Camp Bestival and it’s been really good. We’ve been taking it easy and just letting her lead the way. Lovely to see how much she’s enjoying all the sights and sounds!’
On the Spot – Alexandra and Soul age 3
‘I’d been to Bestival and I didn’t enjoy it so I thought I would try this. I really love it because it’s so clean and friendly. We’ll definitely come again!’
Tickets for Camp Bestival 2015 are on sale now.
NB: I’m an Official Camp Bestival Blogger for 2014 and was invited to cover the festival as a member of the press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
**discounted for review