Festival fun for all the family at Camp Bestival 2016 – review

Globalmouse writer Louise heads with her family for the UK’s friendliest summer festival for families.

If you love live music, or theatre or comedy, but feel as if you haven’t been able to properly get out to enjoy them since you had kids, then you should definitely head along to Camp Bestival – the beautiful summer festival space where you can enjoy all of these things over a packed four days, and so much more, and your kids can enjoy them right alongside you.

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We are just back from Camp Bestival (28th July – 31st July 2016, Lulworth Castle) where we had a magical time with our three children. There was plenty for everyone to do and enjoy, and allowed us to share some of the things we love with each other.

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We were in the general camping areas at Camp Bestival, and within five minutes of the tent being pitched my daughter had made friends and an impromptu football game was going. The camping areas are lovely, friendly and manage to be surprisingly quiet given how many families are all camping together. We also managed a hot shower every day in the fab  – and free – ‘Posh Wash’ showers, which made us feel ready each day for a new day of partying!

We took our own food for both breakfast and dinners, so that we could all choose whatever we fancied for lunch from the amazing array of food stalls each day. Food from the stalls is actually quite reasonably priced for a festival, and we enjoyed everything from pie and chips and a gourmet fish-finger sandwich, a delicious Pad Thai, to a macaroni cheese with a variety of toppings. We also needed to buy breakfast one day due to a milk mis-calculation, and it was delicious – we were grateful this was sold in the camping area near our tent!

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We popped up to the festival site on the first night where families were already dancing in the groovy ‘Caravanserai’ area. Two enormous astronauts welcomed everyone to the festival site signalling the theme of outer space for this year. Along with this the fancy dress donned by families of festival goers surpassed previous years, as we discovered when we had a ringside seat for the fancy dress parade whilst we ate our lunch on the Saturday. This family atmosphere pervades the whole festival area – on one day we headed to the wonderful ‘Slow Motion’ area where there was all kinds of yoga and pilates and treatments available, and the children were welcomed to make their own edible face masks, which they both smeared on their face, and tried a bit of too!

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Each year the music line up at Camp Bestival has something for absolutely everyone. This year we all really enjoyed dancing to Katy B, followed by Fat Boy Slim – the highlight of the weekend with his child-friendly but fantastic set. All around us were children dancing along with their parents – or in the case of the smallest, sleeping through the whole thing in their cosy festival trolleys. On the Sunday there was a brilliant afternoon of nostalgia with Bananarama, on to the ‘Purple Rave’ tribute to Prince followed by Tears for Fears before the legendary closing fireworks display.

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But alongside the bands you’ve all heard of, there is so much to discover. A huge favourite of mine was the London Contemporary Voices choir – dressed all in sparkly silver in keeping with the space theme of the weekend. They sang a fantastic space themed set, and were so inspirational that I wanted to share it with the kids, and so we went back to see them do it again on the Sunday. The wonderful thing about staying for the full weekend is having the time to go and be completely delighted by acts and events that you don’t know anything about in advance. This is alongside wandering about the site and just catching wonderful acts, such as ‘The Steelers’, an amazing steel band, made up of very talented college students, and Mr G’s educational and interactive science shows, and a pop up performance on the castle steps from the Funky Little Choir.

Camp Bestival is famous for providing wonderful entertainment for the smallest members of your family – but it also has a fantastic area, ‘The Den’ just for 13 – 17 year olds, and this year my two eldest were able to go along together. They came back from workshops in ‘Live looping and beat boxing’ and writing protest songs feeling really inspired. This area is a great idea, it has its own space in the programme with talks, workshops and performances, alongside an area for teens to hang out together– I was jealous that I couldn’t go to some of the workshops, but it’s strictly teens only!

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The Science tent was another big hit this year – my daughter really loved having a try at some coding using Raspberry Pi computers to make her own animation. She also loved the Treehouse Theatre company show – as did we. I admit we had to be dragged along to this, but once there we were as captivated by the fun as all of the children in the tent, it was absolutely hilarious.

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Camp Bestival is a truly family friendly festival, with a nearly unbelievable number and variety of acts, workshops, performances, stalls and activities to take part in, watch and share as a family. I worried that my eldest children might be starting to move on from Camp Bestival – I had nothing to fear: they started talking about next year, before we had even finished packing up the tent.

You can find out more about Camp Bestival at their official website.

Louise and family were guests of Camp Bestival for the purposes of this review, but her views are her own.

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