Bestival is my favourite festival of all time. I am no expert, I haven’t been to all the festivals in the UK or the world, but I have been to a fair few and out of the ones I have been to, Bestival is my favourite.
Bestival is set on the Isle of Wight at the beginning of September which means that for most of the festival goers, summer is officially over and all are returning to full time jobs after various short (but well needed) holidays. Bestival is that last shimmering hope of fun and freedom, where all can let their hair down one last time before the sun disappears into the depths of winter. And everyone does so extremely well.
I have been twice at two different time periods, once in 2010 and again in 2013 where I worked as a member of bar staff, which is completely a different kind of experience. I would advise never to work at a festival you enjoy, with artists you love headlining, and with friends also attending. It makes the shifts that much longer and rather seeing the work as job, you see it as burden on your festival experience.
Bestival is everything you want with a festival. It prides itself in its carefree, family friendly vibes with a festival that has much more to offer than just music. First of all, Bestival emphasizes the dress code of fancy dress every year for festival goers to unite in a relaxing yet entertaining way and those who don’t dress up are seen as an outcast, and soon regret not doing so. It is filled with activities in the day- fancy a water slide? Seeing a band play on vegetables? Or a pub quiz? How about making a spoon army? Which guarantees many to go explore the vast amount of landscape where the festival is set and to escape the humdrum of the campsite.
Secondly Bestival not only focuses on music, but arts, theatre and comedy. I saw Scroobius Pip at Bestival, who combined his spoken word with comedy and theatre. His emotional and thought provoking act stunned a whole audience (and many of us who crept and watched from afar in bushes because there was no room) into silence. Whilst at the same time- there are mazes in the woods and water rides at the festival.
Bestival focuses on different themes for various areas of the festival. One is Bollywood, one is titled “The Port” and has a giant ship, an area is called Stardust field and another, Magic Meadow. Each area is adorned with fitted staging, props and furniture that are perfect for the setting making the entire festival well thought out, amusing and enjoyable for all.
There are various areas of the Festival that even if you were sober for the entirety of your time there, I doubt you would be ever able to find, such as the hidden cave, or the spooky mirror (these sort of areas change every year). A bigger plus is that although the main stages closes at a certain time because of the family friendly atmosphere (2am latest) the “Wishing Tree” and various other clubs in the campsite area are open to the early hours, meaning ravers can keep on going, and are within walking distance to pass out.
In 2010 I saw greats such as Ellie Goulding, Mumford and Sons, The XX, The Prodigy, Zane Lowe, Annie Mac, Skream, Breakage and Shy Fx. Whilst in 2013, whilst I worked each night 5pm-1am meaning I missed the headliners, I still got to see Jaguar Skills, MIA, Dub Pistols, Caravan Palace, Wu Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg.
When I first went to Bestival it seemed this festival was a hidden gem. Everyone was friendly and had the same care free attitude and mind set as I do. However, now it seems more of the punters are turning up to the festival not for the atmosphere or how fantastic the festival actually is, but rather, like every other festival, spending the day drinking at their campsite and getting rowdy. I have no problem with that, I just constantly want to urge them to explore the festival, take advantage of what is around them- but do it whilst drinking! So they get the best of both worlds. It seems that this festival is becoming more and more commercialised, more people know about it and I fear soon the entire campsite will take this latter attitude. I know the festival itself won’t change its ways whatever happens, but the vibe will. So I’d recommend you go now, before it’s too late.