I had heard that Camp Bestival was the biggest family festival around. I found it to be like no other family festival that we had taken the boys to before – not only in terms of it being generally bigger – but there was definitely more of a festival feel. I felt that Camp Bestival gives the children a much better idea of what a festival is like, minus the bits that you really wouldn’t want around children. This was our first time at Camp Bestival and found it to have so much for the children to do AND all included in the price! Just perfect for the start of the summer holidays. Plus it had the added value of many moral influences for children.
Camp Bestival a Family Feel of a Festival
When you think about a festival, I mean a real festival, what do you think of? I think most of us it would mean letting our hair down and getting intoxicated! Staying up late and hearing from fantastic artists (both musically and comedians alike). It would involve making friends with everyone and partying until late at night – even if that is in your wellies! Dressing up and generally having fun.
It would probably also involve some unpleasantness around toileting habits too but luckily Camp Bestival is a family friendly version of a festival and so there was none of that! Yes people were drinking but we did not witness anyone behaving badly because of it. There was lots of dressing up – with great takes on the nautical theme and trolleys pimped up. Children could stay out late (until 2amish) and party but yet I liked the contrast that the Castle stage with the main acts on finished at 11:15pm – giving those who wouldn’t cope with such a late night the opportunity to still see the big names.
Not only was the whole feel great for children but the acts were great reminders of the adults’ youths – a great way to reminisce and bond with their children (although some of it my children just asked how I listened to it!) It was fantastic to witness artists that have still got it despite the time that has gone by since they were big in our lives! Particularly for me this was Rick Astley (who even had Mary Berry on the drums!), the Stereo MCs (who were just so full of energy and charisma) and Dick and Dom really entertained the crowd (although not so old and I remember them from when our oldest was growing up!)
Great Food at Camp Bestival
When it comes to food at Camp Bestival I think you can make it as cheap or expensive as you like if you are camping like us. We opted not to cook at all and brought cereal for breakfast and plenty of snacks – in order to try out some great foods at Camp Bestival. There were bacon sandwiches for only £3 and children’s meals of half a burger, fries and water for only £5. Not bad prices for a festival at all. There were quite a few vegan/vegetarian options too (not just chips and salad!). We never got around to having a Corn on the Cob which we had been recommended (and looked great) but did have the churros with tasty chocolate sauce. I also really liked the home-made lemonade.
This year the food had apparently been set out differently to previous years in that there were food vendors by the campsites. This worked out very well for us when the weather turned bad and everyone was after food and hot drinks. In fact it was also good for a naughty late night, just before bed snack – which the children would never normally have.
Camp Bestival Entertainment for Children
As well as all the amazing artists to entertain children at Camp Bestival there are a wealth of other options for them to explore. My first timer top tip is to really figure out what they really want to do; talk to experienced Camp Bestival goers (find out which you need to book and how early you should aim to get where). In hindsight I wish I had looked at the map more before we arrived, to give me a feel of what is where. The only downside is that there’s not really much for teenagers in the way of activities, and what is described as for them did not appeal to my teen boy. There was, however, things available that made his festival enjoyable but they weren’t his age specific.
There’s so much to do in terms of activities though, that you have to decide what is important – and fit in downtime as well as going for food. The big activities for our boys were the Tree climb, the cookery lessons and the trapeze workshops. They managed to do the tree climb on the Friday, but on the Saturday they took part in an organised Nerf gun war and both the trapeze workshops and cookery lessons were full (and the festival did not open on the Sunday due to the weather).
There were some hard decisions to make as we did not cover nearly half the things we would have liked to but the boys really needed an afternoon sleep. The nights in a tent had quite a few disturbances and they weren’t used to the late nights. In saying that they still managed fair rides, ice-creams, rocket making, science explosions, a walk through Lizzie’s way, playing in the woodland area with Funghi; pompoms with Katie Jones; put on a puppet show, had a campfire veg demo with Gill Meller (and got to taste the food!), saw the end of the trapeze show, went in an inflatable church, caught the underwater night parade – and that was just a few things on top of experiencing the artists!
Camp Bestival Good Moral Influence for Children
Last of all I would like to talk about how Camp Bestival is good morally for children. Of course the whole ethos of the festival is really about getting children screen-free but there’s other health aspects such as sessions on yoga, nature runs, and pampering. As well as helping to cut back on food waste, supporting Hotpoints Fresh Thinking for Forgotten Food Campaign with Jamie Oliver, using up misshaped foods at Rejuce (into delicious refreshing slushies for those hot days); local produce and food that is good for children such as with brand Bear. There were also recycling bins provided and other ways to cut down on landfill waste – such as with the prohibition of (plastic) glitter.
There are a range of charities they openly support – including Greenpeace, Wateraid, Amnesty International, Surfers Against Sewage, Love Support Unite, Weld Hospice, Frank Water, Alzheimer’s Society, Litter Free Coast & Sea Dorset and many more.
Of course nothing is perfect and there were a few issues that people had to gripe about but nothing particularly large when you think of a festival of this scale. I think they did a grand job of the impossible task of trying to keep the toilets cleaned and well stocked up (although the urinals on display weren’t particularly welcome and the queues were incredibly long for children to wait in). Again I think it was good that they provided eco toilets. The same with the emptying of litter bins – these seemed never ending filling up but I saw them being regularly emptied. I think all in all people were generally good – both of having respect for the environment and each other (a lot of the activities weren’t manned as it were and relied on children’s manners, or parents reminding them of them – such as how to queue).
Conclusions of Camp Bestival as a Family Festival
I think if you want to give your children the experience of what a big festival feels like without the bad behaviour, then Camp Bestival is a great place to go. Offering a great number of artists, fantastic food, entertainment for children and good moral messages. Yes there is plenty you can spend your money on when you get there but there is also plenty available to entertain the family without going overboard.
We were invited to Camp Bestival for purposes of review. All opinions are honest and my own. Photographs are not my own.