Rocketman, burning out his fuse up here alone!!!
And there we were, planning our cosmic adventure and ready to blast into the unknown world of outer space for the very first time. Onward to Lulworth Castle – Camp Bestival, the worlds biggest family festival, is booked!!
With 8 kids ranging from 6 months to 16 years old – one of those kids with Autism, the 6-month-old teething, two people needing to drop out late notice due to illness and a parent in a leg cast from a recent operation, we were dubious of what our experience would be like on a new planet. But damn it, we were ready to blast off. There was no aborting this mission…
After what can only be described as an insane game of intergalactic Tetris by packing 3 families (and all the paraphernalia that goes with them – including more kids than adults) into cars, we embarked into the realm of “Space Swearing”. Profanities that only actual space cadets would utter when they fall into the realisation that their mission is destined for failure.
The feeling of impending doom that awaits them.
The vision of shame as we attempt to erect our space camp within an unforgivable galactic universe of festival professionals.
Can you tell we were apprehensive about this whole mission?!
But there was no turning back, 5-4-3-2-1… we have lift off!
And while the worlds first moon landing in 1969 was probably easier to orchestrate, together, as 5 adults, we launched our jet rocket with all kids and space apparatus in tow. Quickly, memories of preparing for take-off were in the past. As we blasted off into the abyss thinking of Major Tom to Ground Control and the soft, gentle moves of a spaceman enjoying zero gravity for the first time, we were on top of the world!
We land at Camp Bestival, and the excitement quickly turns to EUSTON. WE HAVE A PROBLEM… because we are faced with the most giant hill I have ever seen. It looks like a meteorite shower of crying kids and screaming parents… holy shit, what have we let ourselves in for?!
But, in true British spirit, we took a deep breath, we loaded the kids up until their legs nearly buckled beneath them, we resorted back to “Space Swearing.” We dug deep, thinking nothing except for ice-cold beers the second we get all this crap up to our launchpad. After numerous trips back and down, down and back… we are set up, we are sitting making new friends with the other alien beings around us (some new to this festival malarkey and some absolute naturals), and within seconds, it strikes us… we have travelled through a galactic explosion of madness to get here, but we’ve landed.
And then this moment – this very moment right here, right now, sat in our camp, with twinkling fairy lights, the light smoke from the BBQ wafting scents of scrumminess among the masses, the kids playing with Diablo’s and chasing bubbles, hearing laughter, the baby asleep in the cot, the teenagers playing cards, listening to Fat Boy Slim under the stars and a couple of drinks on ice, with the very best of friends and family – this is where all that stress before literally melts away. This is festival life.
This years theme (obviously) is the cosmic world of space. Each year it changes. However, Camp Bestival revolves around six key areas regardless of the theme for the year.
There’s the Lower Kids Garden, a kids area to get your creative juices flowing. A place where their imagination can run wild with art and craft activities, as well as a dedicated space for those into their science experiments and crazy silly (also educational) science shows. You can feel safe in the knowledge that everything you need for kids is here; face painting, fancy dress, makeovers… and home of the world-renowned Pimp Your Trolley competition!
You’ll also find the fairground and The Greatest Tent on Earth in the lower kids garden, which is perfect for the theatrical kids among your group. If you’re with children under the age of 5, you’re likely to spend most of your time in the soft play area.
The Upper Kids Garden is the central part of Camp Bestival. It’s everything circus-related, where you can fully immerse yourself into the world of juggling and plate tossing. Within this area, while the kids play, the adults can enjoy singers and performances and watch their little ones beaming smiles.
Moving onto my absolutely favourite, Dingly Dell. Dingly Dell is fun for all. It’s set in the woodland part of Lulworth castle and is home to the revolutionary Mud Kitchen. The Mud Kitchen of Camp Bestival is enormous, and there are tons of kids working together to serve their parent’s mud pies and drinks of watery slop and sticks. They bloody love it! We spent a lot of our time here… it’s a great spot to escape the midday sun as well.
In Dingly Dell, there is an enchanted area called Lizzies Way – this area changes each year, but it’s always well worth a visit.
As you meander through the paths, you’ll then stumble across an area where the kids can arm themselves with nails and hammers. I kid you not, it’s true! All the kids come together and start building their own gigantic play frame. It was a little daunting at first, but once you see them all working away together, it’s incredible what little minds and little hands can achieve!
The Slow Motion area of Camp Bestival is all about feeling zen. Relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of festival life. From yoga to meditation and facials to massages, Camp Bestival has it all going on over here. You just need to try and escape from the kids.
The Magic Meadow is the prime location. It’s the place where the giant I LOVE CAMP BESTIVAL letters are situated. In fact, for us, this is the meeting point if one of the kids gets lost. Everyone can find their way here. This area is home to the Caravanserai, the Bollywood Tent, the Big Top, and the giant inflatable Wedding Church. Yes, you can even get “married” at Camp Bestival.
The Castle Field is where you’ll find the main stage and lots of street food stalls. Funnily enough, it’s also where the castle is. Clever that.
The following day we wake up bright and early to a magnificent galactic explosion that is Camp Bestival. It’s a feast for the eyes, a shake-up for the senses; it’s a kids fantasy world filled with intriguing and exciting sights and experiences. It’s a parents dream of colour and sounds to heal the soul. It’s like nothing I’ve ever thought would be possible; merging banging music, chilled out vibes, kiddy fun and families young, old and all that in between absolutely loving it – together!
Eat, sleep, rave, repeat – that’s how you roll for the weekend, no exceptions! After all, you’re at the most prominent family-friendly festival on the planet… and there is so much to see.
Fast forward to 2018 and Rob da Bank and Josie invited us back for another press opportunity – we jumped at the chance! This years theme was Nautical, so obviously we went as the main cast of Popeye and SpongeBob Squarepants, obviously!
We had everything down to a tee this time. We were organised and our camp was set up beautifully. And then the storm hit us… and it hit fast and furious.
Camp Bestival was slammed across the media, but the funny thing was, half the people writing about it weren’t even there! We were. The storm was bad, Camp Bestival HAD to be cancelled for everyone’s safety. When I say it was bad, it was horrendous and it was scary. There were people screaming and kids crying. The wind was like nothing I have ever experienced before and the rain was brutal. But the event organisers did everything they could to help everyone who was there. Yes, it was unimaginably difficult and it was hard getting everything back to the car but there was such a sense of community. Everyone was helping everyone else. There were people helping with tents and assisting with luggage. Everyone’s main objective was to get everyone out of the venue as quickly and as safely as possible.
Did it put me off going back to Camp Bestival? Hell no! We can’t wait to return!!!