If you HATE bunting and tutus, then you would not enjoy Camp Bestival. Equally, if you’re the type of person who rolls their eyes at adults wearing face paint, or if you sneer at the fact that every single person around you is wearing a floral garland around their head, then I advise you to STAY AWAY from Camp Bestival. It’s not your cup of tea. Instead, you should probably head to some pop-up place in Hoxton that no one has ever heard of. One that serves cocktails made of hemp, served in bowler hats.
For everyone else though?
Why? Well, where do I start? It’s safe to say that our long weekend at Camp Bestival was probably the best weekend of our nearly-three-year-old’s life. In one weekend she:
- Had her face painted three times (a lion, a butterfly and a floral design, since you asked)
- Painted a giant fort made from recycled cardboard boxes at Card City
- Coloured and cut and glued in the craft tent
- Went mad on a bouncy castle
- Danced like crazy to live music in the Big Top tent
- Danced like crazy on my shoulders to 80s music in a giant inflatable church
- Dressed up as a fairy
- Took part in a kids’ dance class
- Played with her new bubble gun for a whole hour
- Listened to stories being told in the Story Den
- Explored Dingly Dell forest
- Played in a brilliant playpark with massive slide
- Drove Little Tyke cars around the Soft Play Tent
- Played shops in the Toddler Space
- Watched Morris dancing
- Built sandcastles in the giant sandpit
- Went on a traditional merry-go-round
- Flew a paper plane as part of a world record attempt
- Saw a hawk up-close
- Watched Mr Tumble live onstage
That’s 20 things. And there were probably 100 more things that we didn’t do because of time/tiredness-levels/the age of our daughter. And us grown-ups weren’t left out of the fun either. During the weekend, I:
- Drank a lot of beer and Pimm’s (a lot.)
- Watched Ash, Mark Owen and Grandmaster Flash
- Chilled out in a sunny beer garden, eating burgers (and drinking Pimm’s)
- Mooched in the Sisters Guild and Joules stands
- Sat on the grass by the bandstand, listening to live music (and drinking Pimm’s)
- Met up with a bunch of lovely bloggers I know, in the Bollywood Bar
- Ate the best churros ever. Twice.
- Sat outside our Podpads hut, drinking wine, while our tot slept inside
- Had my face painted
- Ate amazing mac ‘n’ cheese at the Anna Mae’s stall
When we got home, I asked my daughter what her favourite thing had been. Unsurprisingly, she replied “Mr Tumble”. My favourite thing was probably the Card City fort, made entirely from cardboard boxes collected from the food stands – there to be painted by the kids. My nearly-three-year-old spent a good 45 minutes painting sections of it – purple, blue and white were her colours of choice, and she used both a brush and her hand.
So would I go to Camp Bestival again? Absolutely. It was apparent that there was stuff for all ages of kids, so as my daughter grows, we could technically go year after year and find new things for her to do, each time. I won’t lie – our amazingly comfortable stay in a PodPad Bunkpad definitely helped to make the weekend special, but even that aside, Camp Bestival is just magical. Everywhere you turn, there is something different to watch or take part in. My top tip, if you’re thinking of going next year, is to just go with the flow. We didn’t rush around trying to see too many scheduled performances. A lot of the time, we just hung out in the Lower Kids’ Garden, and mooched from activity to activity. Which brings me to…
…5 Things I’m Glad We Took:
- 3M ear defenders – we used these mostly in the Big Top where music was LOUD and contained in a small space
- Tissues and hand gel – many loos had both but it was good to have them for visits to those loos that had neither
- Our buggy – we debated whether to take it or not and I’m SO GLAD we did. Our daughter used it loads and it was useful to load up with bags, jackets, stools etc
- Kattoos – temporary transfer tattoos that come with a pen, to allow you to write your phone number on your child. Our tot loved her “special sticker”
- Wet wipes – we probably got through an entire pack, wiping sticky hands, smudged face paint and even small bottoms after loo trips
Find out more about Camp Bestival – and how you can book tickets for Camp Bestival 2014.
Psst! Boring disclosure rules state I have to let you know Camp Bestival invited me along in order to review it. All views are my own.
Photos: Alison Perry and Camp Bestival