Camp Bestival 2010
If Glastonbury is king, Camp Bestival is its rogue princess daughter who ran away to Dorset. She took with her only the quirkiest, jester hat-wearing festival ingredients, and invited all her friends. Condition of entry? That they bring their parents to pay for the (soft) drinks…
On the big grinning face of it, Camp Bestival is just that: a giant kids’ party in a Dorset field where bed times are banished and scrubbing behind the ears is unheard of. But just half a day in to my mission to survive - let alone enjoy - a Proper Music Festival with child-in-tow, I get the distinct impression that it’s all a big cover-up.
See, the kids haven’t dragged their parents here at all. In fact, it's more the other way around - the place is full of responsible mummies and daddies more than happy to blood their offspring in the ways of the festival. Why? Because it's as much fun for grown-ups as it is for kids.
Don’t get me wrong, the sheer scale of kids-only activities are mindblowing. Mini discos, fairground rides, circus performances and child-friendly eateries line every inch of Camp Bestival's picturesque site. But guess who’s actually enjoying the dressing-up box more than anyone?
So the perfect festival that appeals to kids of - wait for it - all ages? Pretty much.
Here then, is a collection of some of the colourful sights of Camp Bestival 2010: from conservative ‘mosh’ pits and the cleanest portaloos in history, to cider bus impersonators and (as long as it's not too loud) a little bit of music…
Our arrival to the ‘heart of Dorset’ on Friday is met with what - remembering Glastos past - is actually a very respectable one hour tail back. The ‘open’ army shooting range sign a few yards from the Lulworth Estate is ominous - but it’s still a far more suitable picture choice than the ones I took of roadside potty stops.
Just half an hour in slow-moving traffic and a quick survey of neighboring cars reveals whinging small children being moved from car seats to parents’ laps like hot cakes, while seatbelt-less older kids are hanging out of car windows like excitable puppies.
The disregard of the usual rules of life has already begun...
The centre-piece of the estate is Lulworth Castle. Built in the 17th century as a hunting lodge, purchased by Humphrey Weld in 1641, ravaged by fire in 1929, restored by English Heritage in 1998, scene of mini-raving madness in 2010…
Not that anyone actually cares about history. This weekend, the castle’s good for just one thing: providing an elevated view of the Castle Stage.
The Castle Stage by day
The festival’s main Castle Stage plays host to the likes of chart botherers Example, Tinie Tempah, Chipmunk and Ellie Goulding plus such dad-friendly stalwarts as The Fall, Lee 'Scratch' Perry and The Blockheads.
Back in kiddieland however and Saturday morning’s opening act - a theatre production of The Gruffalo - is greeted with what I can only describe as a polite stampede of pushchairs.
Parking stage right
There are no signs instructing parents to leave their pushchairs like this. it’s just one example of how ‘polite’ Camp Bestival really is. No pushing, no shoving and no double parking, please
The mosh pit
The mosh pit has only one rule: strictly no standing if you’re taller than 4ft.
The Wizard Of Oz
Festival goers’ fancy dress costumes could fill an entire gallery of their own, but this Wizard Of Oz line-up is my favourite family effort.
Humpty Dumpty head
And this is, without a doubt, my favourite solo effort. In fact, it’s probably the greatest fancy dress costume of all time.
Is that the cider bus?
Nope, this isn't Glastonbury’s mobilized purveyor of the finest apple booze juice but the perfect example of the type of food and beverage stall you can expect to find at a family festival. Out go the greasy burger stands, in come the vegan wagons, crumpet houses and cream tea parlours.
Hang on, we've found the Cider Bu-
We are on the right track! Pimms does have apple floating in it, right? Right?
The attention to detail in the site’s decoration is outstanding, and isn’t just limited to themed zones - there are bursts of colour everywhere you look.
We did attempt to take a photo that isn’t partly obstructed by a pushchair but registered a most epic fail. It’s impossible.
You’ll probably notice a grey sky in most of the pictures here - another ominous sign, but the cloud cover was in fact a welcome respite from the monotonous application of sunscreen to little arms, noses and necks.
A splattering of rain did fall on Friday night and Saturday morning but it soon cleared and, thankfully, the grass remained intact. It's worth noting that, had the site turned into a mud bath, the atmosphere would have turned sour very quickly.
Kids + Mud x Tired Parents Not Being Able To Sit Down For Five Sodding Minutes = Home…
The appearance of CBeebies favourite Mr Tumble almost causes mass hysteria and his meet-and-greet session easily draws the biggest queue of the weekend.
If you’re not familiar with Mr Tumble’s work, knock yourself out. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Yes, it is exactly as annoying as it sounds.
Probably the biggest issue for any vaguely sanitised festival goer - let alone a hygiene obsessed parent - is the toilets. Luckily, the loos at Camp Bestival are among the cleanest I’ve experienced. And I've been to Leeds.
Best of all, the kids don’t have to face the trauma of sharing with the aged bowels of adult festival goers. Must've been the falafels…
Flushing with sawdust
“One scoop for poop and every 3rd-4th wee. Return cups for refill and loo karma. Standers & hoverers please lift the seat!! Keep it nice for your fellow sitters, sisters and children!! Naturalevent.co.uk”
And now think of Glastonbury…
Every green-loving festival (that’s most of ‘em) promotes recycling, but I’ve never seen the concept adopted quite so clinically as at Camp Bestival. I’ve even seen kids picking out cans thrown into the wrong bin!
Britain's ASBO culture is clearly working…
The evening music slots are filled by the likes of Calvin Harris (annoyingly postponed from Saturday to Sunday), Billy Bragg, The Human League and the ever excellent DJ Yoda.
The latter's particular brand of hip-hop turntablism is a hit with all ages, even if littler eardrums do have to stand outside the tent.
Castle Stage by night
Back to The Castle Stage for the big headliners: George Clinton And Parliament Funkadelic (what's wrong with one name?), Madness and Friendly Fires.
The music was great but what's with all those green trolleys? Easy. 1) They're meant to be used for lugging camping gear from car to site; and 2) In the real world, they provide a portable bed for crashed-out kids who can't hack the pace.
I overheard one delighted trolley-puller's conversation on the subject: "Yeah, we got the cart because last year we had to go back and put the kids to bed at, like, 10:30pm. This year though, they can sleep in this whether they like or not!"
Power to the parents!
NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN
This sign does nothing but confirm my original hunch. No matter what any one says, this is a festival for adults as much as kids. The sun's gotta come down some time…
Late night acts this year include Jaguar Skills, Scroobius Pip and the superb Joy Orbison.
Alternative uses for a pushchair
Camp Bestival is like nothing I've ever experienced before. True, it won't be everyone's cup of cream tea, but if you're old enough to remember the fields-and-smiles vibe of early raves and you want a safe but cool way to introduce your kids to the world of music festivals (and still secretly have a good time yourself), you should book for next year right now.
Us? We'll see you down the front for Mr Tumble. Juuuuuuuussssssssttttttttiiiiiiiiin!!!!!!!!