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Camp Bestival 2011 Review | FESTIVALPHOTO

Camp Bestival 2011 Review

Camp Best!

This is our fourth year at Camp Bestival and our second experiencing it as a family affair. It is unique in that it is the only major festival that incorporates families without reducing the festival experience or sacrificing fabulous acts. In this way you get a real festival experience while introducing younger members of the family to festivals and camping. It is also won 3 awards – best new festival 2008 and best family festival 2009 and 2010 from the UK Festival Awards.
This years line up is on a par with previous years from older greats such as ABC, Blondie and Primal Scream to modern artists like Labyrinth, Eliza Doolittle, Mark Ronson and more….

Site and facilities:
The layout of the site makes each area really accessible without tiring out little feet or making manoeuvring wheelchairs/buggies/wagons difficult. The kid’s fields and the big top and main stage are slightly separated which gives a more relaxing atmosphere and keeps both areas from becoming too crowded.
The campsites themselves are well laid out with food, drink and toilet facilities open well into the night- so getting that late night hot chocolate on the way back to the tent is a very real temptation! The camp store near the main entrance is also incredibly useful for any last minute essential camp items forgotten or broken while the convenient store inside the entrance is an added bonus for those random essential you’re bound to need. It all makes the experience that little bit less stressful when you realise you’re suddenly out of bread, milk or batteries. All the vendors were really friendly and helpful. Be wary though of some items being over-priced within the camp-store but provided you take care of the big stuff anything else is reasonable.

Camp Bestival for the first time opened its gates on the Thursday. So we arrived then. We had thought it would be less busy as people would be still at work or perhaps just coming on the Friday for a long weekend, however we arrived at 12.20pm and it was already buzzing. This year though, because the festival site itself didn’t open until Friday the atmosphere was incredibly relaxed. People didn’t need to worry about arriving, parking, getting a pitch, setting up, settling in and getting into the festival by 12. This meant all we had to do was saunter in and find our space with the whole evening to relax and settle in. It also meant that Friday was spent lazily waking up, having breakfast and working our way to the festival already in good spirits.

There is always a warm atmosphere among the campers with offers to help pitching tents, borrowing milk and children instantly making friends with those in the tent next door and occupying themselves before the festival opens and we have even left the festival previously with friends we still have.

It is highly recommended that you purchase a programme (£10) as there is so much to do. This way you can mark off together the main things you all want to see and plan your whole weekend so nothing gets overlooked. This years programme package came with additional things for kids including a ZingZillas magazine, blow up guitar (dads used them some point after 9pm) an activity book with crayons and a laminated timetable to wear around your neck.

While writing this review we tried to decide what we would consider the best bits- or highlights if you will, of our long weekend. It is actually more difficult than you would think, however our reviewing skills won out and we have narrowed it down:

Best bits:
• The Gruffalo – a fabulous stage version of the book that children and adults will adore and should definitely be seen. There are 2 performances of this show so no excuses and we promise you’ll be singing ‘’g-g-g-gruffalo’’ all the way home.
• The fireworks - this year they surpassed themselves by co-ordinating the display to music and animation adorning the front of the castle.
• For families – The lower and upper kids gardens. These areas of the festival had so much to do for kids it was lovely. Also incorporating lots of food and a bar so that the adults could relax while the children wore themselves out.
• Fancy dress! Every year Camp Bestival has a fancy dress theme and there is a Smiffy’s and a kids dressing up tent on site, however speaking to people in the campsite we found that not very many people we aware of the theme so a little more promoting would be great to get EVERYONE in the spirit of dressing up – you know you want to!
• The site – located in a very picturesque area, beautiful surroundings and surely one of the only UK festivals to be hosted around a castle.
The guys at Camp Bestival created a perfect layout making it very easy to get between areas, stages etc.
Bournemouth, Poole, Lulworth Cove, and the village of Wareham are incredibly close by if you wanted to extend your vacation or just take a few hours away from the festival.

Worst bits:
• There seemed to be a little confusion amongst the campers though as to where exactly the family camping and non-family camping was as we had a mixture of people around us (we were in the family section) who were unsure of where to go. Fortunately those who intended on making noise and camping with friends found their way and those without children who did camp in the family area were generally quiet and well behaved. However, clearer maps or signs would have been beneficial as well as a family only section to ensure a calmer camping area.
• Although opening on the Thursday was great as it gave you a day to get settled in, by the afternoon/evening things became a little boring with people wanting something to do. Unfortunately nothing was open so it was difficult to stay occupied.
On top of this a few of the stalls we spoke to weren’t expecting any customers and said they were forced to open up one day early.
• No campfires this year dotted around the campsites. Though I understand this may have been due to environmental reasons, it was quite sad not to see people relaxing on sofas late at night in the warmth, conversing with one another, and spontaneously singing due to the odd person who’d brought a guitar.
• With a significantly larger capacity than that of its first two years things like the Big Top and Bollywood tents would get extremely crowded when hosting a well known act. With this in mind it may have been nice to have large screens, for example, outside the Big Top so that those unable to work their way through the crowd could relax on the grass and still see what’s happening within.

This festival is a fantastic weekend break- not just for families but also for anyone who enjoys the festival experience, music and camping. It comes highly recommended, not just from us here at iiinside, but from the thousands of revellers who return year after year. The weather, which you can never rely on, was great – sunny with some cloud and only a little drizzle on the Sunday but take your wellies and you’ll be fine!

Always a festival that delivers and one that makes you feel like you left a little of yourself behind.

Many thanks to the guys over a Get Involved and we hope to return next year!

Skribent: Alan Thomas
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