Camp Bestival 2010: Rated!

Lulworth Castle, Dorset - 30 July - 1 August

Camp Bestival 2010: Rated!

03 August 2010

Overall – 8/10

If you’re looking for kid-friendly fun, Camp Bestival is it. This year sees Rob da Bank’s Dorset-based creation stage some pretty amazing music alongside its near million-and-one things to do for children and adults alike. There are outstanding performances from Madness, The Human League and Calvin Harris sat beside Bedtime Stories with Billy Bragg and How To Be a Chef with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Nowhere else could bring you such an eclectic mix of hedonistic festival spirit and exciting family activities.

Getting there and back - 6/10

With only two entrances to the site (east and west gates) there is bound to be a bit of queuing, but two hours is a bit OTT in anyone’s book. The influx of people could be split effectively if Camp Bestival operate the same policy of sister event Bestival – opening the campsites on Thursday for people to choose when to arrive, but as it stands a lot of people end up missing a few acts and events. However the site is easy enough to find, with good signage in the surrounding area and security are manning the car parks effectively.

Atmosphere - 9/10

Though the days are mainly grey, nothing can dampen the spirit of thousands of kids, from the under threes to the over 30s, big and little alike – more dad dancing than your average wedding and heaps of random site entertainment from face painting to clay modelling, jousting and puppet shows.

You’d think there could be witness tantrums and tears at every turn, but pretty much all sproglets seem to be having the uninhibited time of their lives, being able to stay up late, eat what they like and hang out with their families in fancy dress all day. When the kids conk out in the hundreds of wheeled contraptions on site, mums and dads become the hippy-revellers of their teens and really let their hair down for a good old boogie.

The site - 8/10

Though the arena layout is well thought out in terms of separating the different sections of the festival, there are a few slight oversights in the camping areas, particularly the amount and placement of toilet blocks for the number of people camping. Also, as there is no real security presence, many gazebos in inordinate amounts of space are erected early on, meaning that a lot of campers have to walk miles to find somewhere to pitch up, when there is a lot of space being used inconsiderately. Having said this, most people are willing to make a bit of room if asked nicely – such is the friendly atmosphere of Camp Bestival.

In the arena itself, everything seems fine until the fireworks show, where (understandably) the area surrounding the castle is blocked off for safety reasons. However, as everyone decides at this point to sit down and no pathways are created by security – it is impossible to cross from one side of the arena to the other, with a fair amount of crushing going on. On the other hand, with the fireworks being up on the castle, everyone had a wicked view of the final event, which was spectacular.

Music - 9/10

Fantastic line up of some really special acts, with kid-centred performances like DJ Yoda’s Disney set, some hard hitting dance or drum and bass for ravers from Jaguar Skills and William Orbit, and all round fun with The Wurzels and George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic. Camp Bestival is a really diverse show with something for everyone.

Funniest moment: The Wurzels covering The Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘Ruby’ with a refrain of Somerset farmer style “ooh-arr-ooh-arr-ooh-arr”.


Mr. Scruff - 9/10

The most relaxing show of the entire festival, Mr. Scruff’s four-hour set means that many more people have the chance to experience his chilled out beats and funky mixes during the day. You could easily lose most of your afternoon, lying down in the big top with your eyes closed!

Madness - 9/10

How do Madness stay looking cool whilst jumping around like escaped mental patients? It must be the effect of the suits and sunglasses a la Blues Brothers. You’ve never seen so many toddler toting 30-somethings skanking to ‘Baggy Trousers’ like they’re at a school disco and it’s absolutely fantastic that some of these parents’ first favourite band was Madness, and now it might be the first show their kids remember too – what a legacy! A stunning set, with the obligatory ‘It Must Be Love’ seeing thousands of people pairing up for a mock-waltz.

Calvin Harris - 9/10

With a front row full of screaming teenagers with signs like ‘I love your accent’, how could Calvin Harris not be pumped up? A blinding set, with lots of energy and jumping about in a nice suit, Calvin hyped up the crowd with super hit ‘Ready For The Weekend’.

Billy Bragg - 8/10

You know the music is good when one man can hold the stage on his own. Billy Bragg plays a practically perfect set of soulful and politically-tinged folksy songs to a full Big Top on Friday night.

The Cuban Brothers - 10/10

Thoroughly entertaining, the Bestival/Camp Bestival annual mischief-makers are fairly inappropriate but luckily in an accent that the kids are unlikely to understand. Funky and fun with fantastic costumes, dancing and stage presence, the brothers Cuban really know how to put on a show.


Tony Da Gatorra vs Gruff Rhys - 3/10

Completely weird and experimental with a complicated political agenda, they are totally unsuited to a crowd full of kids and parents who just want to let loose. The inclusion of a Power Rangers costume helmet might be a nod to the little ones, or not… who knows?!

Random Moments

How to select random moments from an endless list of festival antics? Highlights include the giant Madness sign constructed by the lovely people at Hugh Jart, which is quickly swapped around to read ‘Assmend’ (well done British public), the creativity of the mesh trolleys being used to cart kids around the site, with one in particular actually having window boxes with flowers in around the sides and a mass of fairy lights, and the thoroughly entertaining Hip Hop Shakespeare.

One notable mention is the Insect Circus’ earwig magic act and one small child telling his friends that the lady with the bed of nails wasn’t using a ‘stunt apple’ to show how sharp it was! Benji Boko’s DJ sets in between acts on the main stage are definitely crowd pleasers, mixing pumping bass beats with the likes of music from Thomas The Tank Engine, Rugrats and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and the Cuban Brothers get a lot of laughs high-fiving the entire main stage front row, running around in only their pants. As if that isn’t enough to convince you that Camp Bestival is the festival to be at, the Black Dahlia tent houses some absolutely fantastic dance classes from the Lindy Hop to the Maori Haka and around the site some stunning eateries including The River Cottage Café, Sushi and a travelling restaurant complete with waiters.

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