Festival Review // Camp Bestival // 26th – 29th July
When growing up it’s normal to assume that you’re going to be a great, cool parent. If you take your kids to Camp Bestival you’ll be both hip and right in your assumptions, if only for a long weekend.
A festival full of touching scenes, madcap incidents and outrageous comedy, Camp Bestival is an outstanding weekend for parents and kids alike.
Unlike in recent weeks, the sun shone throughout the weekend, meaning places like the Bandstand provided places to bask. Here on Friday afternoon, The Wishboness entertained a humble crowd with folk from the New Forest. The New Forest three piece were the perfect accompaniment for the sweltering afternoon, playing ‘Me, Myself and Rye’, before finishing with something that sounded like a really fun barn dance. Sat next to us, Captain Pugwash showed his support by ringing his bell in applause, a sound we heard throughout the rest of the weekend.
Later, the patriotic festival goers are given the chance to watch Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony in the Big Top, before Hot Chip entertained over on the Castle Stage. With soft vocals and intriguing sounds, the band caught the imagination of the crowd. At one point, we’re asked to keep it down as Joe Goddard’s baby is asleep nearby – truth is there are many asleep in the crowd too, and most seem able to sleep through just about anything.
Sat outside the Bollywood tent on Saturday, a posse of Morris and Country Dancers offer a glimpse of what kids can assume getting old is like. Turning our attention to the Bollywood stage, we witness a cooler-than cool boy of about 11 dancing to the playful house sounds of Dan Avery with his mum. They stop, hug, and go to sit down with mum trying to elicit the same response from her teenage daughter.
A surprising highlight was Howard Marks reading children’s poems on the Bandstand. After informing the young crowd that Jack and the Beanstalk was ‘a story about a green plant that you takes you to a higher place’, the more innocent members of the audience fail to understand. What they do get are the various interactions Marks makes with the kids. While simultaneously entertaining the young and old, he is engulfed in a sea of children who mob Marks before security step in to calm the situation. Add ‘great with children’ to Mark’s enviable and ridiculous repertoire.
Inside the Spoken Word tent (The East Lulworth Literary Institute) kids sit and listen to what Arnold Schwarzenegger sounds like doing Shakespeare, thanks to Ben Crystal. Afterwards, Scroobius Pip introduces a talented bunch of young poets who entice tears and laughter with poetry. Jodi Ann Bickley delivers a sensitive and thoughtful array of poems which she describes as ‘the mess that is my sad love life’, the crowd responds enthusiastically nonetheless.
If words aren’t your (or your little one’s) thing, then just next door is the arts and crafts tent, where you can nurture their more creative side. Failing that, the medieval jousting seems to get the crowd going each time, or you could go to the inflatable church to witness people renewing their wedding vows in front of the dirtiest priest ever. Hilarious.
There is so much child friendly entertainment on offer, much of it of an interactive and stimulating nature. Passing the bluecoats we witness a girl dump her head into a bowl of Rice Krispies – breaking the world record with some 174 pieces being stuck on her face.
Later Saturday evening Chic bust out one disco groove after another, with kids shocked at how many of the songs they too know the words to. Nile Rodgers says that ‘Chic are not a cover band’, to reiterate the point that he and Chic are true living legends of disco with an enviable back catalogue of hits .
Close by, DJ Yoda and the Transiberian Marching Band moved the Big Top crowd from hip hop through to dupstep, as scenes from Inspector Gadget, Star Wars and others skip along in sync on the big screens. Later, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (Orlando Higginbottom) does enough to freak out young children, or convince them he’s the female Lady Gaga with epic headpieces and interesting dance tunes.
Sunday afternoon is spent among a number of memorable characters. In the Bollywood tent, DJ Derek played a number of reggae classics before Rolf Harris showcases a huge number of his own hits on the Castle stage. Lyrics are sung by all ages, such is the reach and legacy bought to bear by both acts.
A flawless and upbeat performance by the Blues Brothers UK proceeded Jimmy Carr and Rufus Hound late Sunday night in the Big Top. Everyone was in fits of laughter with bawdy comedy that doesn’t come close to being acceptable for children – one for the more open minded parents, perhaps.
Sunday night headliners The Happy Mondays were excellent, providing the adults with memories of good times past as their children sleep beside them in various buggies and trolleys kitted out in fancy dress and tiny sleeping bags. Ending their set with ’24 Hour Party People’, the crowd turned their heads toward the fireworks finale. Gazing up in wonderment at the flashes of colour and noise, you appreciate how very special a place Camp Bestival is; it couldn’t be a better place to bring your children.
For every tantrum you see there are 50 kids having the time of their lives with their little ear protectors. Peer above from them, and you witness parents enjoying not only this fantastic festival, but also the joy of watching their children growing up without a care in the world.
8 out of 10