Camp Bestival 2021 was one of the only large festivals to go ahead this year and after 18 months of lockdown myself and thousands of others held our breath as we waited for the good news that we could return to the fields of Lulworth Castle. Set over 4 days and four nights the award winning Dorset Family festival is jam packed with family enetrtainment , musical performances and cultural delights concluding in a spectacular firework display on the top of the castle.
Camping and Covid
Campbestival 2021 felt more condensed than previous years but this didn’t reduce the Fun. The dreaded Covid didn’t leave our thoughts completely as acts like Sophie Ellis Bexter and Friendly Fires were forced to cancel. That being said the Abba Tribute Bjorn Again as replacement was a stroke of genius and there were still more than enough worthy headliners to satisfy music enthusiasts like me.
Camp Bestival 2021 started with Camp Bestival 2018 feels as storm Evert shook the campsites on Thursday night. Lessons were obviously learnt as the festival was fully open by 11oclock Friday morning and went off without a hitch. Festival goers took a lateral flow test before entry and there were hand sanitisers in abundance. Apart from this it was back to business for Rob Da Banks flamboyant family friendly extravaganza. I’m still in absolute awe as to how this scale of festival could be organised in the time they had and with the changing restrictions. Plan a cracker they did and it felt wonderful to have a bit of Freedom back.
Friday for us was all about scoping the various areas to see what everyone wanted to do. Magic Meadow, Upper and Lower Kids’ Gardens, Caravanserai and Rimsky’s Yard, were all on our list. As were some big names on the main castle stage. FatBoy Slim, Becky Hill, The Blossoms and Craig Charles.
My experience has taught me you cant over plan family festivals as the life barnacles will always scupper them. Try to pick one thing a day you really want to do or see and go from there. I love Camp Bestival because you can go at your own speed and there’s always something to see and do. From free crafts, circus shows, science demonstrations or headline acts. You can even be part of the action and join the Saturday fancy dress parade.
Something For All
We woke up Saturday morning still a bit heady after a fantastic performance from Becky Hill. She shone on the main stage and the production team were on top form with a dazzling light display. We spent a chilled morning with dadandbouje Bingo and Wilba had her nails done by the Shoreditch nails team. Back to our fantastic Coleman Octagon tent for some lamb kebabs on the Campingaz party grill (another essential camping purchase) and a bit of green. Camp Bestival 2021 had an abundance of food vendors and the impressive Great Feastival tent. You could watch live cooking demonstrations and even a BBQ DJ. Prices are what you would expect from an event like this. That being said I would hate for family’s on a budget (like us) not to be able to experience Camp Bestival.
You CAN do this festival on a budget as long as you manage expectations and take advantage of all the wonderful free experiences of which there are plenty. The rides are not overly priced £2.50 for the swings and £3 for the Ferris wheel seemed very fair. Water points are dotted around the site to refill bottles and you can bring your own alcohol to consume in the camping areas. The most we spent was on merch and that can be pre-ordered which I would recommend as some lines sold out fast.
Time to relax
One of my favourite areas is the Dingly dell. We spent a lot of time here back in 2018 when Wilba was only a 18 months old. Mud kitchens, reading nooks and recycled instruments lead the way to the relaxation area where you can take part in some yoga or even book a massage.
The Wild tribe area is also a favourite. We enjoyed some African drumming and a ride on the swing before a proper coffee in the Magic Teapot. We visited the Magic Teapot at Boomtown in 2019 and its a wonderful refuge. There’s lots of wonderful activities going on in The Spinney Hollow Crafty area. Most at an additional cost but there’s a lovely chilled out creative vibe up there which is hard to miss. Don’t forget you can also book one of the Freckles festival nannies. Slots go quick so don’t forget to pre-book your lil bit of me time.
To Caravan or Caravanasie
After Dancing way too hard to the legendary Fatboy slim who brought his daughter this year to debut her DJ skills (proving this really is a family affair) we took refuge in Caravanasie. An area with a steampunk aesthetic and travelling circus vibes. Old caravan parts surround the Waltzer stage and bar area, anything goes! Trapeze artists, sea-shanties and live performers, even an acoustic rave. The Show hawk duo were definitely a highlight for us. We caught up with the brilliant Scummy mummies in the big top and then went back to the tent for a quick wet wipe wash and glitter up.
We stayed in camping plus with flushable toilets and hot showers. The showers had long queues in the morning so time your wash for the afternoon would be my advice. The loos got quite pongy by the end of the weekend but this is to be expected. Washing up facilities are limited but it was nice to have a proper mirror and sink to brush my teeth in. Our friends stayed in basic camping and managed to find space much closer to the festival. They did arrive on the Thursday though so maybe if you’re like us and arriving later due to work commitments etc Camping plus is the way to go. There’s other options too, like boutique camping, hospitality camping and campervans/caravans so you have your pick!
Groove Armada packed out the Castle stage but this year we decided to stay down the Big Top end and listen to the incredible Jaguar Skills. I missed him last time as Wilba needed her bed. But with the kids prepped with a disco nap and their ear defenders on I was able to enjoy most of his set minus a quick break to see the fireworks. He is phenomenal live and manages to give all the old classics a new lease of life, if you’re into your house, drum and bass, dubstep and hip hop music you must see him.
You can see the fireworks from anywhere, but to get the full effect and projection experience you need to be at the castle stage. Word of warning though. It gets very very busy and crowded so if you’re children are slightly younger or more sensitive take a back seat. You’ll still be able to enjoy this final showdown. This years movie theme was very moving and the #WEAREFAMILY message most appreciated.
Camp Bestival 2021 was phenomenal. The glitter, the colour, the freedom to enjoy live music and arts with like minded family’s in what felt like a very safe environment. I’ve never seen a camping ground left so spotless from any other festival! Yes its hard work, the packing the organising, the walking… but as my mum would say all those things are character building and part of the experience. Ultimately making your unit stronger and more resilient. It makes the highs higher if you get what I mean. You need to embrace Camp Bestival and get involved. Bring the fancy dress the glitter and take part in the endless activities. Then kick back with friends old and new ( you’ll make many) to enjoy the wealth of top notch musical acts.
My thanks to Rob and Josie da bank for doing the impossible and to everyone involved for giving my family such fantastic memories after such a hard couple of years!
See you in 2022 Camp Bestival. We cant wait!
*Disclaimer – Gifted PR tickets for purpose of this review but as always words thoughts and pictures are my own.