At #TeamCoco, we love a good festival and Camp Bestival is no exception. Set in the majestic grounds of Lulworth Castle, on Dorset’s dramatic Jurassic coastline, Camp Bestival is ideal for all ages thanks to their diverse mix of entertainment; from fabulous music acts and comedy to cultural delights and intriguing sideshow attractions.
Camp Bestival was awarded Best New Festival in 2008 at the UK Festival Awards in its first year of operation. Deemed as the ‘little sister’ of the more dance-orientated ‘Bestival’, Camp Bestival is known for being very family focused and has the most relaxed and friendly vibe.
We arrived on the Friday lunchtime (despite many arriving the night before) to the festivities. Every year Camp Bestival’s founder Rob Da Bank and his team pick a different theme and this year it was a nautical theme which was reflected in the fancy dress costumes and the many HMS Camp Bestival hats worn by various festival goers.
With the sun beating down on, we took the opportunity to explore the expansive festival site. Camp Bestival divides their entertainment into different areas which includes the Castle Stage (the primary stage for entertainment) The Big Top, Bollywood, The Greatest Tent on Earth, Caravanserai, the Literary Institute and HMS Bestival – a new highlight for 2018 which is essentially, a big old boat which features a wide range of entertainment including BBC Radio presenter Fearne Cotton DJ’ing!
Also new for 2018 is the ‘Gin Festival’ where you can try more than 50 gins from around the world. As a gin aficionado, I did take the opportunity to try some new gins and to reacquaint myself with some old favourites such as the delicious Mermaid Gin.
Strictly Come Dancing fans were in luck, as they were able to learn how to foxtrot with Karen Hardy’s Dance Studio. It was lovely seeing people of all ages learning how to dance. There were also various crafting, literary and foodie activities to enjoy throughout the day.
Friday’s music line-up included Camp Bestival regulars – The Cuban Brothers, who entertained the crowd with their energetic set. The group have played for the likes of Robbie Williams, Elton John and more have played Camp Bestival 12 times now.
Other acts on The Castle Stage included 80’s band Pop Will Eat Itself, Dodie, Lauren Hibberd, The Skatalaties and with a further nod to the 80’s, BBC Radio 2 presenter Sara Cox took to the decks for a DJ set featuring some nostalgic tunes from the decade.
One of my festival highlights has to be seeing Huey Morgan (from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals) DJ’ing with his renowned ‘NYC Block Party’ set.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Rae Morris took to the stage on Friday evening, her latest album ‘Someone out there’ is certainly more ‘poppy’ than her 2015 debut ‘Unguarded’, thanks to the experimental drum patterns and electro-pop synths. It was my first time seeing Rae live and she is a truly captivating performer and I will definitely be downloading her new album.
Headlining Friday night was Rick Astley who has been enjoying a second wave of success over the last two years since the release of his number one album 50 and his recent top ten album Beautiful Life. Last year, Rick jammed on stage at the Summer Sonic Festival in Japan with the Foo Fighters, which quickly went viral (but not as much as the Rickrolling phenomenon!)
When Rick announced that he was going to bring on a guest drummer, we all held our breath thinking it might be a member of the Foo Fighters, so imagine our surprise to see Mary Berry on stage. Yes, you read that right – Mary Berry was on a drumkit, keeping a tidy beat to Rick’s song – Beautiful Life. As you can imagine, the crowd went wild as this was completely unexpected. Rick’s set was a fantastic way to round off our first day and night at Camp Bestival.
We spent a lot of time on the Saturday checking out the amazing selection of traders – you can buy all manner of things, from a vintage style dress to a gluten free pizza (I admit, I may have brought both!) There is always an excellent selection of food choices at Camp Bestival. Gone are the days when all you can buy is a soggy burger, here you can choose from everything from a pulled pork hog roast to Ghanaian food.
Saturday’s festivities saw fantastic sets from indie band Jesus Jones and hip hop-electronic dance group the Stereo MC’s who really brought the energy. Sadly, Tokio Myers (last year’s winner of Britain’s Got Talent) was ill, so his replacement was pop duo Max and Harvey.
We trundled off to see singer-songwriter Adam French play in The Big Top which we were really pleased that we went to see. Adam was not an artist I was familiar with and this is why I love festivals, as it’s an ideal opportunity to get to know bands and singers that you hadn’t previously been familiar with.
The headline act for Saturday was electropop sensations Clean Bandit who performed a selection of their hits including ‘Rather Be’, ‘Symphony’ and ‘Rockabye’. Whilst the likes of Jess Glynne and Anne-Marie weren’t there, they were supported by two singers who really made the songs their own.
One of the best things about Camp Bestival is the sideshow attractions such as the Caravanserai where we saw fire dancers, trapeze artists and more whilst festival goers relaxed in vintage caravans.
Sadly, due to adverse weather conditions, Sunday’s Camp Bestival was called off. A difficult decision to make for the organisers, but absolutely the right one. Acts that were scheduled to perform were Simple Minds, Shed Seven, The Undertones and Jade Bird.
In summary, if you are looking for a chilled-out festival where you can see some of the best musicians, comedians, DJ’s around in one of the most beautiful locations in the UK, head to the Dorset coast of Lulworth and check out Camp Bestival. There is fun for all the family and even if you don’t have little ones, there is still plenty of grown-up shenanigans to enjoy. Camp Bestival’s (slightly crazy) older sister Bestival takes place this weekend coming – 2nd-5th August featuring London Grammar, M.I.A, Rudimental, Diplo & Mark Ronson and many more. Tickets are still available, so head over to the Bestival website for more information. Plus, we think the weather will be much better this coming weekend.
Thank you so much Camp Bestival – we will see you next year!