Rob Da Bank: Doing it for the kids

United Kingdom United Kingdom | | 11 July 2008

The tag 'family-friendly' has been kicking around for years, but just how much is being done to accommodate the little sprogs other than face-painting over their mud-splattered cheeks? We chatted to DJ daddy Rob Da Bank to discuss family-based bashes and his latest offspring Camp Bestival – the event that's likely to take foolproof family soirees into cool-proof ones.

"The ideal scenario we're trying to create at Camp Bestial is to have a bit where adults want to be, but their kids want to be as well," the father of two explained, "The Kid's Field still has a live music stage in it, but its open so its not going to make young ears bleed and it also has fun and games bits in there for adults as well as kids."

There's poetry, comedy and street entertainment to keep big and small kids (we're talking dads here) amused. Mr Da Bank told us that "[There will be] a proper theatrical jousting display each day. I've seen it, it's actually with balsawood jousters running along and stabbing each other." - safety first then.

Even the finer details of the line-up have been consciously chosen to represent a wide selection of bands and DJs that all ages can enjoy, so no Slipknot or even Gallows. Musically, the enjoyable will line up alongside the peculiar, will Chuck Berry, Kate Nash and The Wurzels all playing over the weekend, while a select choice of DJs will perform as well.

But there will be no compromise on the unique atmosphere of sister soiree Bestival but (breathe a sigh of relief parents – you've had enough of these…) don't expect the sleepless nights all weekend (unless you want to) as the Radio 1 tastemaker explains: "Camp Bestival is trying to be antithesis to [Bestival] and more about chilling out and watching some bands, but its still going to be a lot of fun," and that’s without feeling like an oversized crèche, as Rob says, "It isn't an exclusive parent-only event, there will be a lot of great people coming down for a knees up and a good laugh and to see The Flaming Lips."

Even the bands are mucking in to make it a memorable affair for children and adults alike with "Jonathan Moore from Cold Cut […] devising what he's called 'Kids Disco', which is a whole DJ set Cold Cut style, but with tunes for kids," the curator let on.

Over 3,000 under 16's are expected at the inaugural event, but organisers aren't set to create their own nanny state: "We've got bits of the site which are kids-free and a campsite that will be marked off as a noisier area, but we're not going around with a security guard telling people to keep it down and not make noise because there are kids around," Rob says, but peace of mind will be a priority, "Kids will be given wristbands with their phone numbers on them and stuff like that. We've also got T-shirts, which aren't some sort of a marketing ploy, but they do say things like: 'Hi I'm so and so. If lost please call…' These are just things to make things safer. We've employed 30 approved childminders from the local authority who will walk around and make sure everything is safe and that all the kids are alright and loads of entertainment too."

All the fancy dress nonsense of Bestival will make it down to Dorset as well with a children's dressing up shop and catwalk and while they're feeling creative the mini Picassos can try their hand at the many arts and crafts on offer. The Breastival is set to make it over from the Isle of Wight too, giving young mums the discretion they need for breastfeeding and nappy changing.

Here's Rob's guide to family festivals:

Rob: "Glastonbury for children is a great one; it's always been massively kid-friendly and I still think it is. It has sort of set the tone in terms of being kid-friendly." All under 12's are allowed in free with an adult ticket holder and the Kids Field is basically a mini-Glastonbury in itself. The extensive entertainment and activities also take place throughout the site: theatre, comedy, workshops, puppetry, storytelling, art, crafts, facepainting, skateboarding, adventure playgrounds, Green Kids Area and so much more. Like the festival itself – it has to be seen to be believed!

Beautiful Days
The children's area is co-ordinated by Majical Youth Theatre to make sure the little 'uns are kept busy. There is theatre, crafts, storytelling, comedy and face painting and much more over the weekend as well as a family camping area and children's wristbands that parents can write their mobile number on.

Larmer Tree Festival
Rob: "Larmer Tree Festival has been going for twenty-odd years and it sells out to families that are devoted into going every year." With different zones for different ages the festival caters for children up to 17. Music workshops, graffiti art, racing car circuits, sports, story writing and more are aimed for 11-17 year olds, while those ages 0-10 years have a choice of over 75 workshops, Bollywood, Horror or Sci-Fi playgroups and even a Sunday night carnival.

The Big Chill
Running from 11am to 6pm the Kids Area at The Big Chill features giant snakes and ladders, hopscotch, free face painting, magic shows, puppet shows, belly dancing lessons, a carnival procession, a crafts area, toys and even science boffins amazing parents and children alike. The festival's Clubmum will have books, arts corner, sand, baby changing facilities and loads of kid-friendly music.

Rob: "Guilfest, although I've never actually been, but I know they're massively family-friendly." Hence why they picked up the Family Friendly Award at the UK Festival Awards in 2006. Street theatre, a children's carnival, crafts and circus skills workshops for kids to participate in as well as fairground rides, stuntmen, Ghanaian acrobats and drummers, storytelling and much more.

Rob: "I can imagine WOMAD is extremely kid-friendly, but I haven't been, so I wouldn’t like to say." Let us help out then…  WOMAD sees families as a priority with workshops for children and families, cookery lessons, reading library, dedicated family camping, a vintage steam fairground and in keeping with the festival: music making sessions. Organisers have also implicated a Found Children tent for those who lose their parents and, of course, the infamous children’s procession.

Camp Bestival takes place at Lulworth Castle, Dorset from 18-20 July. Last remaining tickets are on sale now - to book head to, or call 0844 888 4410 (24 hr). And remember all under 13s go free!!

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