In 10 days time I am going to be once again driving down to Lulworth Castle in Dorset to spend the weekend at Camp Bestival – the family friendly festival running from 30th July to the 2nd August.

I was invited to this festival last year to review The Feast Collective, but sadly due to some family and work commitments I wasn’t able to attend the whole weekend and missed out on most of the delicious fun that was to be had over the three days. I did however get to try a few wonderful elements of the event and wrote a review for Father’s Quarterly online magazine, so in the run up to this year’s festival, I thought share that with you once again and give you an insight into what you might expect from the weekend ahead of my new, more detailed review due in a fortnight! Enjoy…

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We are mid-way through the festival season of 2014. So far we’ve seen Dolly Parton rock Glastonbury, the Kings of Leon blow the minds of people at the Isle of Wight, McBusted once again woo the hearts of thousand of girls at British Summer Time in Hyde Park and the Prodigy astound the crowds at Global Gathering. The chances are if you have young kids, you didn’t get to go to any of those! Luckily, the responsibilities of parenthood don’t mean you have to miss out on all of the fun, as the ultimate family friendly festival is upon us THIS WEEKEND!

Camp Bestival has been running since 2008 in the stunning grounds of Lulworth Castle down in Dorset. It is the little sister of Bestival which runs every year in September on the Isle of Wight and both festivals are organised by BBC1 DJ Rob Da Bank.

Camp Bestival has a capacity of 30,000 people and runs over 4 days. Each year the festival has an exciting theme; previous themes have included the Olympics (in 2012, obviously!) and Around the World (2013). This year the theme is Circus and a very large Big Top can be found in the centre of the site, ready to host a multitude of entertainment for kids and grown-ups alike.

A jam for everyone

Cheeky cider (not for kids!)

The vibe at this festival is like none other I’ve ever experienced. Sadly I was unable to take any kids with me when I visited yesterday, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment. Yes, this is a family friendly festival and ideal for children to enjoy, but there is no lack of entertaining elements for older generations.

This year, the music headliners are pretty fantastic and include Basement Jaxx, De La Soul, James, Laura Mvula, & Nick Mulvey plus plenty more. In addition, there is a Silent Disco available for those who want to party without the fear of the kids waking up in the field next door.

For those grown-ups wanting to relax, the Soul Zone is the place to go. Various tents offer different pampering packages, from manicures and pedicures to deep tissue massages and holistic treatments. You can also pop over for a lovely afternoon tea, some chill out time in a hammock or even catch a film at the 360 degree cinema!

Of course, a large section of the festival site is devoted to the little-uns with the Upper Kid’s Garden on the lawn behind the castle particularly suited to giving them a bit of freedom to cavort and explore. Activities here include the likes of BigTopMania where you can learn a circus skill, a Bouncy Castle, bikes and go-carts, a separate Toddlers’ Area and the pioneering Breastival Mother and Baby Chill Out, plus brand new for 2014 and the centre for all our Circus Spectaculars: The Greatest Tent On Earth! There is also a fantastic crafts area where you are invited to try your hand at wood carving, letter printing and even pirate ship making!

Knives and forks at the ready

When it comes to food (and this is where I think the weekend gets really exciting) this year the organizers are proud to launch the new food lovers haven, The Feast Collective, which celebrates exceptional food innovators from across the UK.

The Camp Bestival team have gathered together amazing food adventurers to join the delectable celebration of mouth-watering street food traders, artisan food producers, specialty chefs, and organisers of pop-up supper clubs from across the UK, blazing a trail and shaping the future of festival food into something altogether more exciting and scrumptious.

Ones to look out for include Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen who last night hosted a fantastic Supper Club, serving up a selection of different and delicious Ghanian dishes, including Lamb Palaver, Roasted Garden Egg, Kelewele Plantain & Black Eyed Bean Stew. The flavors are bold, the team friendly and more than happy to talk you through the dishes, and you will leave feeling full, satisfied and a little more educated about this interesting cuisine.

Outside of the Feast Collective tent, you may also wish to try a curry from the guys at the Thali Café, who serve up a great selection of curries, samosas, poppadoms and flatbreads. The butternut squash & red pepper curry is a winning dish for any vegetarian!

If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, treat yourself to a brownie from The Green Brownie stall. The gorgeously chocolaty brownies will only set you back £3 (or £4.50 if you fancy ice cream too!) and come in a wonderful selection of flavours, including peanut butter, salted caramel and even chilli!

Drinks-wise, you’ll find a selection of stalls selling healthy smoothies and juices, standard soft drink favourites and hot drinks, and for the grown-ups, you are never too far away from a pint of cold Tuborg beer or a sweet refreshing Somersby Cider.

The-Feast-Collective-inside
Inside the Feast Collective: Look how cute that bunting is!

Thinking practical

There are 4 different types of camping field (plus a campervan area and a caravan/trailer tent area) at Camp Bestival 2014 – each with car parks relatively close by to reduce how far you’ll need to walk with all your kit (phew!), and each with their own sets of showers, loos (many of which will be of the eco-friendly and non-smelly compostable variety), tasty food stalls, recycling points and more.

This is all very unlike the miserable, dirty, muddy camping of Reading & Leeds… this is clean, spacious and friendly! No chance of being woken up by a neighbouring tent blasting hard core drum & base at 6am… although if you have youngens, I suppose 6am will constitute a lie-in anyway!

Camp Bestival officially started today and will run through to Sunday evening. While the weekend camping tickets are now sold out, day tickets are still available. Why not pack up some blankets, stock up on suncream and make your way down to the southern coast this weekend for a day at this incredible festival. Fun guaranteed for all ages.


Originally published on Father’s Quarterly July 31st 2014