Camp Bestival 2010: A Family Review
Lulworth Castle, Dorset - 30 July - 1 August
Overall - 9/10
Friday started in the queue for the far entrance to the beautifully positioned Lulworth Castle. Having a 7.5m long, 3m height "home" to manoeuvre through the Dorset lanes was surprisingly easy and the queue moved swift enough that we were on a decent flat pitch, rolling out the awning and pouring the first Fruit Shoots and ciders before midday.
Coming through the campsite on it's rolling hills and seeing the familiar site of the Big Top, Bollywood and Black Dahlia stages in the Magic Meadow, little seemed to have changed from last year; our 7 year-old then noticed Fairy Land and just beyond the impressive East Lulworth Literary tent - new, sizeable additions for us to explore.
First off though, we were dragged to the Kids Field and this is where the significant changes were to be had. At least twice the size of the previous year and offering all of 2009's favourites plus additions including a full-size vintage carousel, swing-boats, large bandstand stage, Little Big Top, Zippo's Circus and The Land of Boden with its School of Rock stage plus a whole extra raft of eateries and two sit down restaurants - Kids Kitchen, exclusively serving kids food and McWhinney's with a menu reading from London's West End (Capaccio of Tuna for example).
Naturally, there were children in abundance having an absolute ball, parents were chilling at the well-positioned Pimms Bus or taking full advantage of the huge bar with no queues.
Musically, Camp Bestival is hugely diverse, aiming to please adults and kids at the same time. The bandstand had teenage group Charley McCauley belting out ‘Play That Funky Music’ just as well as Wild Cherry, while MC's, rappers and dance took place in the tents and pop, rock, folk and blues could be found elsewhere throughout the day. Let us not forget that Mr. Tumble was around to get every toddlers pulse racing!
The weather was dry although not dangerously sunny which, given that there were 9,000 under 12's on site, was a blessing in disguise, and made moving around the noticeably busier site easy. For those with very little ones, the site had been designed for buggies to move with ease, which means bottle necks are few and far between.
Having checked out most of what was on offer we caught the best part of a great main stage set by Example but sadly missed Tinie Tempah (who we were informed was "like amazingly brilliant" by a group of 10 and 11 year olds holding a "We Love Tinie" banner) as we were caught up with the Break Dancing Masterclass being presented by the Cuban Brother Kengo San at Black Dahlia - part of a series of classes covering every genre of dance over the weekend and free to join in.
The inevitable Ferris wheel queue was next on the agenda followed by the painstaking decision on what to have for dinner (such a wide variety was on offer compared to last year) then it was time to hook up with friends (with a total of 12 children) for The Cuban Brothers set on the stage at Land of Boden. The Brothers gave a brilliant toned-down performance whilst managing to inject adult humour into their routine.
Kids at festivals invariably means either an early night for at least one parent or very sore shoulders from lugging your child around as they inexplicably fall asleep or become as restless and unable to walk. Friday’s Castle Stage headliners included a so-so Marc Almond who was followed by George Clinton and Parliament. Sadly, George got the only rain all weekend and the motor home suddenly seemed really, really appealing.
Saturday was fancy dress day and the kid’s parade. The theme was Fairy Tales and the effort was huge (although we're not sure Buzz Lightyear or The Cybermen were ever in a fairy tale). After a stage production of The Gruffalo got everyone who was awake early enough in the mood, families of bears, Alice in Wonderland characters, Dalmatians and dwarfs joined the plethora of excellent costumes being led pied-piper style by Mr. Tumble to the Little Big Top where everyone received a badge as a prize. The only booing of the festival was aimed at Mr. Tumble, who was billed as doing a set there but opted for a meet and greet only, but, he bowed to peer pressure and lots of little faces were once more smiling.
The School of Rock competed with Folk Idol for our attention - one great fun if your kids were performing, the other just plain funny/wrong!
Musical diversity continued with The Wurzels mixed up with an excellent Ellie Golding and Greg Wilson spinning the decks as The Castle Stage grew to see The Cuban Brothers full set (who had swapped their Sunday slot with Calvin Harris) in anticipation for Madness. The Nutty Boys, resplendent in classic ska garb gave the crowd a good old-fashioned pogo-ing set with Suggs still proving his prowess as a performer some 30 years after ‘Absolutely’ was released - still fun, still brilliant in their simplicity.
The ubiquitous Mr. Tumble opened proceedings on Sunday with a Castle Stage set watched by some 10,000 who joined in every nursery rhyme and ditties he jumped around to. ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, custard pies in the face and old-fashioned slapstick mixed with some jive and rock'n'roll - one could be forgiven for thinking they'd taken something stronger than pear cider!
Exploring the woods, re-named Dingly Dell, the kid’s farm/petting zoo and the poetry tents seemed like a good Sunday option post Tumble-fever and with the weather continuing to hold well ice creams and freshly cooked sweetcorn were consumed. Jousting performances entertained a strong crowd in front of the castle while the Insect Circus trapeze wowed not only the little ones.
At The Big Top, Mr. Scruff gave a great set, with an uncomplicated fun graphic display and decent bass; William Orbit, spinning in Bollywood lost out on the punters to the bigger tent, but was worth crossing the meadow for a while.
One of the biggest crowds of the weekend assembled for Calvin Harris. The Scot had a mass of screaming teenage girls (and some of their mums) in the front rows and gave a tight set that he clearly enjoyed performing for a very appreciative crowd.
As the evening started to draw, The Human League brought a different crowd out of the shadows. The mums and dads, remembering buying ‘Dare’ as a teen were "dad dancing" as the original line-up of Phil Oakey, Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall played all of their hits from the 80's and 90's. Not a stellar performance, but everyone new the words with ‘Don't You Want Me Baby’ getting the biggest sing-a-long.
With the Ferris wheel queue now 45 minutes long (the site looks pretty good at night from up there) Friendly Fires took to the stage as the final live act. Finishing on a high with ‘Jump In The Pool’ there was a decent light show and the Castle Field was now rammed in expectation of Rob da Bank’s Son et luminere - the firework display synchronised to his DJ set that last year set the standard for festival fireworks. Rob had said to us earlier "If it aint broke, don't fix it" and this proved true with spectacular display cascading over, shooting off and completely illuminating the castle.
For those with energy remaining, the party continued on into the Bollywood tent, and you had to get there sharpish to squeeze in!
Rob and his team, in our opinion, pulled off a great Camp Bestival again. The atmosphere constantly good-natured, the site clean and easy to navigate, the toilets the cleanest and in most abundance of any festival we've been to and the facilities for the kids were superb.
We hope this doesn't get any bigger, at the risk that the magic will be dissipated - the increase to 29,000 was visible but manageable. When we asked our daughter for her rating the feedback was: "I would have given it a 10/10 but it was very busy so I'm going to say nine or maybe nine and a half - can we go next year daddy?" Yes we can!