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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Camp Bestival 2014 Review: Mr. Tumble, Trolleys, Caravans and Mud Pies

Camp Bestival took place in the glorious grounds of Lulworth Castle at the start of August; a fantastical playground for children and parents alike.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Camp Bestival by Maia Fjord
Camp Bestival by Maia Fjord.

My final festival this year was Camp Bestival, which we travelled to on our way back from Cornwall. I went to the first ever Camp Bestival in 2008, when the idea of a boutique festival especially aimed at families was a fairly novel idea and it was a much smaller affair. I was there as a performer with the band that I helped to cofound, Cut A Shine, which has long since mutated into a sprawling folk dance collective with only the original cofounder Joe Buirski at the helm. This summer I returned as a parent for the full Camp Bestival experience.

Camp Bestival
Camp Bestival
Camp Bestival 2014 review
Camp Bestival 2014 review
Camp Bestival is by far the biggest festival that I have been to in recent years… which meant long treks across rolling campsites, stinky portaloos (though the compost loos near the main stages were a winner) and a seething mass of families carting their kids around in heavily souped up trolleys – this has surely become a thing only in the past few years? And of course a huge variety of activities, music and food to keep both adults and children entertained. Our journey to Dorset took far longer than expected, so night fell as we introduced a boggle-eyed Snarfle to the sights surrounding Lulworth Castle. It was a lot for a little one to take in!

Camp Bestival 2014 review
Camp Bestival 2014 review
Camp Bestival 2014 review
Camp Bestival 2014 review
Camp bestival 2014 review
Camp bestival 2014 review
There were many highlights; I loved spending quality time with Snarfle in the woods, rigging up a play dough electrical circuit with Technlogy Will Save Us and learning how to make a cunning wildlife camera trap with Nature Bytes (both in the Science Tent) and listening to little known acoustic acts at the on the outer reaches of the site, where a camp fire was held in the evenings. Snarfle strummed along on his imaginary guitar whilst we waited for the most excellent wood fired fayre from the Pizza and Puppetry stand: cheapest good food we found and very much worth the long trip across the festival. The Farmer’s Market was also a great place for tasty nosh. As expected Mr. Tumble rocked the largest crowd of the festival, with a sea of toddlers held aloft on their parents’ shoulders. There were little discoveries to be made around every corner… one afternoon we chanced upon the two remaining members of Pan’s People teaching dance to all comers in the pink glow of the Bollywood tent, then we watched a vulture demonstrate his flying skills with Haven Falconry. We sadly missed out on daily discos for mini ravers in the same space, but I caught up with Natasha from Big Fish Little Fish this week and I hear the crowd was jumping.

Camp bestival 2014 review
Camp bestival 2014 review
I adored the creativity of the Caravanserai bar area constructed by Monsieur Bateman, where punters could sit in sawn off caravans below a miniature train constructed out of prams, one still with it’s romany floral arrangements intact! The same guy was behind the fantastical Oberon’s Observatory which we sadly did not enter, and a smaller installation consisting of two old French vans topped with fairytale turrets connected by a bridge.

Camp bestival 2014 review
Camp bestival 2014 review
Cut A Shine were curating activities at the Travelling Barn, where Toucan Uke taught Snarfle the proper way to strum a ukelele whilst singing about penguins.

Camp bestival 2014 review
Camp bestival 2014 review
Camp bestival 2014 review
Camp Bestival had copious sponsors including Yorkshire Tea (Snarfle is now a confirmed fan of milky tea), Duplo, where kids played with piles of brightly coloured bricks before receiving a small gift to take away (the ice creams were a real winner!) and Piriton (free bright yellow sunglasses, yay!)

camp bestival 2014 review
camp bestival 2014 review
camp bestival 2014 review
Project Wild Thing held nature based activities in the ‘Dingly Dell’, where a huge amount of children enjoyed the mud kitchen, making mud potions and digging for treasure. Other nature based activities included building fires, making dens, identifying birds, climbing trees and crafting clay animals. Rob da Bank’s desire to get children away from their screens is admirable and this area proved such a success that the woods were seething with people, and I relished the stillness that we found deeper under the trees.

camp bestival 2014 review
camp bestival 2014 review
camp bestival 2014 review
I enjoyed bits of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop from the woods (think live rendition of the Doctor Who theme tune) and introduced Snarfle to Cut A Shine, who dedicated a new version of the Circassian Circle dance to Rob da Bank: stepping into the centre of the ring with guns in the air to “rob da bank”. Sophie Ellis-Bexter sang beautifully in a lovely red dress and admitted that her 10 year old son was standing at the side of the stage looking at his phone “what does a mum have to do to get their attention?!” I didn’t get to hear many of the ‘headliners’ because we don’t own a trolley so I was tucked up in our tent by 10pm. There were a plethora of interesting speakers in the Guardian Literary Tent and Snarfle was amazingly tolerant whilst we listened to the voluble and entertaining Kate Tempest chat about her career.

camp bestival 2014 review
camp bestival 2014 review
camp bestival 2014 review
At a festival of this size there are a zillion entertainment possibilities and so of course we barely scratched the surface, but when a festival gets this big it can be a real trek to get around the site, especially with a toddler who refuses to walk. I swear I lugged him miles on my hip over the course of the weekend. Josie and Rob da Bank have done an admirable journey of translating the original anarchic Bestival spirit into something family friendly, and the mass of people testified to a winning formula. For slightly older kids (from about the ages of 6-11) this place must seem like heaven.

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