Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Review & Top Tips - Camp Bestival 2015

So, this year we did something that I've wanted to do for a few years, and that is to go to Camp Bestival.  I'm pretty sure everyone reading this will know what Camp Bestival is, but just for clarification it is a family friendly festival held at Lulworth Castle, Dorset.  I decided back in May to buy tickets, and for the last 3 months I have been busying myself buying everything (I thought) we needed in order to see us through a weekend camping.  I must admit, I am not really a typical camper..I like my home comforts, hate being cold, and the idea of a Portaloo fills me with dread, however I was willing to give it a shot for the sake of the overall experience.

We arrived on Friday lunchtime (NB see top tip number 1!), and really struggled to find a camping spot.  We had general admission tickets, which basically mean you turn up and find a pitch wherever you can, but because we were about 24 hours behind 99.9% of the rest of the people there we ended up pitching on a relatively steep slope - although there were a set of toilets, a water point and showers nearby.  Our pitch was about a 5 minute walk from the start of the festival site, halfway between there and the entrance, so even though there was noise at night it was nothing that we weren't able to sleep through.  

After we'd pitched we decided to take a walk up to the festival site, I was so excited to see what was going on, and I really wasn't disappointed! Right from the outset I loved everything about it, the colour, the people, the music and the smells, it was just incredible.  To be fair, the fact the sun was shining enhanced the experience from start to finish, everything and everyone seemed to be so warm and friendly.

 Lulworth Castle, as a venue, is absolutely stunning.  It was so breathtakingly beautiful you just felt really lucky to be there.

We bought a cart from Aldi (£49.99) before we went, mainly to help us bring the stuff from the car to the pitch, but it proved to be invaluable in the end for pulling the kids around when their little legs got tired.  There was a stand there where you could "Pimp Your Trolley" who very kindly fitted a sun canopy and a personalised number plate on Saturday - how cute is that, a lovely keepsake for us for years to come.  

 The Jam Jar Bar was amazing...a boutique bar that served delicious cocktails in plastic Jam Jars from an extremely beautiful vintage caravan.  My favourite cocktail was the Strawberry and Basil Martini.

We also spent alot of time outside the Travelling Barn on the Upper Kids Garden where the amazing country/swing music and sandpit was enough to keep us all entertained for a few hours at a time! Toucan Uke and Lil Miss Lonesome with Jules Bushell were particular favourites of mine.

 As for the more mainstream music there was plenty to float all boats, we particularly enjoyed Wretch 32 (he is one of Alfie's favourites anyway so he was beside himself to see him on Friday evening), Clean Bandit, Ella Eyre, Professor Green, Kaiser Chiefs and Ella Henderson.  We sat through the Underworld set on Sunday night because we wanted to watch the fireworks finale straight afterwards, but I really didn't enjoy it. For some reason the sound system didn't sound up to scratch and I just wasn't overly keen on the music, that is personal preference though.  One thing I was surprised at was that there was only one big screen, set up directly next to the stage, so if you were any further back than the middle of the field the chances of seeing anything at all were slim to none.  During really popular daytime acts it was really difficult for the kids to see the stage due to the amount of buggy's/carts/chairs that would be in the arena, Grace was a bit upset she couldn't see more of Mr Tumble.

There were a few program changes on Sunday, which I thought was a bit naughty, I know sometimes things happen but there were young girls literally crying because Ella Henderson was brought forward by a few hours but no announcements had been made and they had missed her.  I don't know how the organisers can get around that though, other than trying to avoid doing it altogether. 

My previous fears surrounding Portaloos were not completely put to rest, but they were nowhere near as bad as I imagined.  They were always clean (or as clean as one can be!) and never once was there no toilet roll - which is super impressive, and I take my hats off to the staff that were always patrolling them to restock.  I must admit though, the "pay per pee" toilets situated next to the Castle Stage did receive my custom on several occasions, even at £2 a go the thought of a flushing bog and handwash was too much to resist.  I would love to see another set of these facilities elsewhere...perhaps on the Upper Kids Garden.

Other things we loved during the weekend:

Prosecco whilst listening to Ska music at Caravanserai
Cat in the Hat Live
Alpaca Agility
The vast array of food outlets 
The National Trust #50things Meadow (especially the den building)
Lizzies Way (Woodland Creative Play Area in the Dingly Dell)
Folk Idol (the 5 year old singing Edelweiss gets my vote every time)
Energizer Headlight Pimping
The Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie
Blow Up Church Wedding
The trio of girl singers in the Indesit Launderette

 In a nutshell, we had the best weekend ever, there was SO much to see and do we could never have done it all even if we had rushed from one to the next to the next...we preferred just to wander and do whatever we came across that we fancied, and that suited us - at least we know next year (and the year after) there will be still lots for us to go back for.  I have read on a Facebook group that there were some issues surrounding security, and that is a real shame as I saw lots of security about all the time, even though they weren't actively checking wristbands around the site, but not having experienced any issues myself I can't really comment on that.  A tent popped up right next to us on Saturday but it was gone by Sunday lunchtime so I was wondering if it was a day ticket holder that decided to just pitch up, I don't know if that is allowed but I thought it was a bit cheeky if not!

So are my top tips if you're thinking of going to Camp Bestival in the future:

1.  Get there as early as possible for the best pitches!

We made the huge mistake of arriving on Friday lunchtime and ended up having to pitch on a hill.  Next year we will be there by lunchtime Thursday. Camping Plus pitches are available at an extra cost of £125 for a family of up to 6, on top of your standard tickets, but they mean you get a designated pitch in a separate area - a good idea if you can afford it.

2. Go for a shower at 6.45am or 2pm.

The showers open at 7am, by 5 to there was a queue of about 100 people.  Either get there about 6.45 and be at the front, or go at 2pm when it's completely dead.  The showers have actually got really good pressure, lovely hot water and are in individual cubicles with wash basins and mirrors.  They are free of charge.

3. Take cash with you

Things are expensive, and unless you are a star super scrimper, you will spend a lot.  Try and take your cash with you (and keep it on you if possible, I had a very cute Bumbag from New Look)...this is for a few reasons: It's easier to budget if you can see what you've got/what you've spent, and there is only one block of cash machines which were jam packed ALL the time and also charged £3.49 for the privilege of using them. An average main meal (curry and rice/fish and chips/burger etc) will cost you between £7-£10, a pint is £4.80, glass of wine £5.50, cocktails £7.50.  We tended to eat breakfast at the tent and then eat out for the rest of the day.

4. Have lunch at the WI Tent

The WI tent served tea, coffee, cakes, sandwiches etc at "normal" prices.  Go there.

5. Get the kids signed up to any workshops they fancy early

Many of the kids workshops fill up really quickly, if there's anything they really want to do make sure you get signed up as soon as possible.

6. Buy a fold-up trolley before you go

I was intending on ordering a trolley from Mr Trolley before we got to CB, but I left it too late and none were available (they have a collection point right outside the entrance to the festival from the car park).  They charged £65 for the weekend hire and £100 cash deposit, but as none were available I ended up buying a fold-up trolley from Aldi for £49.99 and it was awesome! It was able to carry up to 150kg so I knew it'd be more than adequate for not only transporting our stuff from the car but carting the kids round too...with the added bonus it'll probably do us for another couple of years at least. 

7. Buy your tickets as soon as you possibly can, you wont regret it.

Early Bird tickets are available at Ticketline from this Friday (7th August)


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