Since the first weekend of fun, frolics and fancy dress back in 2004, Bestival has grown into an award-winning event.
Now celebrating its 10th birthday, Bestival is five times bigger than in its inaugural year, however it’s still relatively small compared to other UK events – you’d need four Bestivals to fill Glastonbury just once!
For those wanting child-friendly activities alongside a fantastic variety of musical acts and entertainment, this annual takeover of Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle Of Wight has fast become the go-to boutique event
Of course, for those of you who know Camp Bestival, this is the older sibling event, and while you may wish to opt for the smaller family-designed event, don’t discount this one from your festival bucket list. It still has loads of fun options for families and children…
Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank curates the eclectic line-up of DJs, bands and spoken word performers while wife Josie looks after all things artistic. Together with the help of John and Ziggy from Get Involved, the Da Banks make sure it really is a family affair that will leave everyone from 1 to 101 feeling creative, inspired and desperate to come back next year.
With 10 themed areas, including the Stardust Field – an area which seems to be powered by glitter, groovy sunglasses and disco beats – and, our personal favourite, Tomorrow’s World – which showcases a vision of sustainable and eco-friendly futures as well as the best play areas on site. During twilight hours, pay a visit to Wight Astronomy, where experts and telescopes are on hand to explain the mysteries of the universe to anyone who needs a seriously good – and extremely pertinent – bedtime story.
After enjoying a DJing class in Rob Da Bank’s Music Club, or perhaps a science workshop at the Besti-versity, children can head over to the Kid’s Garden to make the most of the dressing-up boxes, giant bubbles and circus skills lessons on offer. This hands-on play area is great for all ages, with even the under-5s catered for in a fenced area of toys and inflatables set aside especially for anyone too little to enjoy the bouncy castles.
The only suitable way to finish the weekend is by making sure you see the Finale Fireworks on Sunday night. Kicking off at around 11.30pm when the last Main Stage act finishes, this spectacular display marks the close of a memorable weekend.
This year’s 10th birthday extravaganza is titled ‘HMS Bestival’ and celebrates all things nautical, so you can get into the festival spirit as soon as you reach the ferry gangway on British mainland soil. Expect everyone from sailors and captains to pirates, castaways and smugglers to descend on Robin Hill this year. With prizes on offer, costumes are serious business at Bestival and while no-one will tell you off for not dressing up, you’ll definitely be in the minority if you aren’t at least donning a stripy top and eye patch.
Though many festival-goers embrace the fancy dress spirit every day (and why not?!) the official time for dressing up is Saturday when the annual carnival parade snakes through the festival
In 2013, the regular parade will be joined by some of the best acts from the UK carnival scene, which Rob Da Bank reassures us will “drench everyone with joy” while for a literal drenching, get your trunks and costumes on for the biggest water slide in the world which will pop up in Tomorrow’s World on the Sunday.
Ideal for older children and teenagers, this Ambient Forest, home to two outdoor theatre stages, is home to all things weird and wonderful. Keep an eye open for the Gypsy Camp where kids can get a sailor-esque marker pen tattoo and interactive theatre company Gideon Reeling who’ll invite you to be shipwrecked in their magical kingdom.
Oh and let’s not forget – there’s music too! 2013’s mixed bag of musical goodness includes Elton John, disco legends Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Brit Award winner Tom Odell and indie favourites Bombay Bicycle Club.
Where to eat… It’s no secret that burger vans and tepid cups of tea are a thing of festivals past and Bestival is no different. Okay, so you can still get a burger, but it will be 100% beef – or ostrich if you’re feeling wild! – and of the standard and size you’d expect in a mid-range restaurant. Various food stalls are peppered about the festival grounds and there is always one in sight, whether it be Mexican caravans, stone-baked pizza stalls or the Women’s Institute Tea Tent. The Local Farmer’s Market is a showcase of the island’s organic, freshly-prepared culinary offerings; the ready-to-eat delights on offer will have you wishing you could get them back home.
Where to stay… Community spirit is in full swing at every one of the various campsites, so you’ll be greeted by friendly faces and communal seating areas wherever you decide to pitch your tent. However, the Blue Moon campsite is a designated quiet area and the ideal spot for families wanting to get to bed a little earlier. If glamping is more your thing, there are plenty of options including the Tangerine Fields where tents are ready-pitched and fully-equipped with all the essentials and a Boutique Campsite of yurts, bell tents and even a bus which you can hire for the weekend. Caravans, campervans and motorhomes are all welcome, though you will need to purchase an extra ticket per vehicle before you go. And if you really would rather come and go on your own terms, the Isle of Wight is home to plenty of guesthouses and there are plenty of offsite options where you’ll be greeted with a comfy bed and bathroom every night. Try The Little Gloster (which is actually a restaurant with bedrooms attached) or Rylstone Manor.
And of course… don’t forget Camp Bestival, the Bestival designed especially for families.