Festivals are what the summer is all about. Watching bands, wallowing in mud, singing round campfires in the evening. But as I’ve got older, and had my first child, what I want from a festival has changed. Gone are the all-night raves and over-indulgence of Somerset cider, nowadays I want to take my toddler along too and enjoy the atmosphere with the companionship of a tearaway two-year-old boy. And much as I love Glastonbury, as a Worthy Farm veteran I can’t quite bear the idea of dragging him through swamps and up hills just to find a changing space, or through thousands of drunken party animals just to find food.
So this year I’ve been hunting around for a family-friendly festival. One that puts on good bands and offers everything a weekend camping should be, but is designed for little ones as much as their creators. And I do believe I’ve hit the jackpot with Camp Bestival – a four day family phenomenon crowned Best Family Festival at last year’s UK Festival Awards.
Set in the majestic grounds of Lulworth Castle on Dorset’s dramatic Jurassic Coast, Camp Bestival – now in its seventh year – guarantees you a family festival experience like no other at a castle campsite by the sea. The event is cited as the ‘sister’ festival of the Isle of Wight’s September Bestival, the brainchild of Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank. The difference between the two extravaganzers being that CB is designed very much with children in mind.
Each year has a theme – this year it’s Circus – and there’s an abundance of attractions to keep kids entertained. TV favourites Mr Tumble and Ben and Holly will be making appearances, there’s a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 50th Birthday bash, and a whole land dedicated to Project Wild Thing – encouraging families to enjoy the great outdoors as part of everyday life. Parents and kids can enjoy a plethora of outdoor crafts and nature workshops, learn how to build a fire, identify plants and animals, build a shelter or make a den, identify birds and listen for birdsong. There’s room to practice tree climbing, campfire cooking and rolling down hills – everything a toddler’s heart desires.
But I’m not just looking for a four day jolly for the little one, I need my fun too, and I was impressed to see the line-up of acts on offer at Camp Bestival. It’s up there with the best of them. Headliners are an eclectic mix including Basement Jaxx, De La Soul, Johnny Marr and Sinead O’Connor, and my personal all-time favourites – indie giants James. The last time I saw James was a first date with the man who is now my husband, and to be looking forward to dancing to their music with the two main men in my life (him and my son, I don’t have a bit on the side – yet) is a fantastic prospect. There will also be appearances from legendary Cockney duo Chas and Dave, ‘Voice of an Angel’ Charlotte Church and 90s pop sensations D:Ream (although former band member Professor Brian Cox may not be joining them!). But if the dozens of music acts don’t get you excited – please check you have a pulse first – then head to the onsite comedy stage, dance at the silent disco (so the kiddies can sleep while you rave – they’ll never know!), catch Boy George or Rob Da Bank himself doing DJ sets, or head to the poetry and authors corner to brush up on a bit of that there culture. Camp Bestival appears to have it all going on, and more!
The event takes place over four days from Thursday July 31st until Sunday August 3rd. There’s camping onsite, changing facilities all over, allocated fields for camper vans, posh tents for the Glampers among us, and even a designated field for people without kids to camp, so they’re not disturbed by other people’s little cherubs.
For more information and to book tickets, see www.campbestival.net . See you there!