Amidst the grandeur of Lulworth Castle, I found myself swaying to the melodies and beats of some of the most iconic acts the UK has ever produced. Camp Bestival Dorset, back for its 15th birthday, was nothing short of a spectacle. Four days of magic unfolded as brilliant sunshine alternated with classic English showers, yet the spirits of the festival-goers remained undampened.
Who could forget Grace Jones’ iconic performance? Each of her six outfit changes was more mesmerizing than the last, and the back-to-back hits resonated with every generation present. The legendary Craig David had us all dancing as he wrapped up the festival with his unforgettable TS5 set on Sunday. And, of course, Sam Ryder, adorned in a bejewelled space-themed jumpsuit, made the crowd roar with his hit “Space Man”.
It wasn’t just the big names that lit up the festival. The confidence exuded by Confidence Man, combined with the nostalgic notes from pop icons Melanie C and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, as well as indie favourites like The Kooks, made this birthday bash one for the history books. And for a touch of festive spirit? East 17 took us all down memory lane with “Stay Another Day”.
One of my most cherished memories was the unexpected delight of Mr. Tumble’s secret storytime reading in the CBeebies tent. The sheer joy on the children’s faces was unparalleled.
Camp Bestival’s curator, Rob da Bank, perfectly captured the essence of the event, saying, “Big up our Camp Bestival birthday ravers! What a weekend with our Camp Bestival family!” And indeed, the shared experience was a testament to the sense of community this festival fosters.
By Saturday, the HMS Camp Bestival stage was the place to be. The entrance of Gok Wan, scattering rose petal confetti from a heart lit up 52.5 ft in the air, was undeniably one of the weekend’s highlights. And speaking of high energy, Fat Tony’s set aboard the HMS Camp Bestival stage was electrifying.
Immersed in the roaring Animal Snap theme, the fields were awash with festival-goers, including myself, dressed as our favourite animals. The sea of incredible costumes, combined with Camp Bestival’s collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), elevated the celebration and added depth to the festivities.
Cirque Bijou’s “All You Need is Love Show” was a nightly wonder, blending jaw-dropping acrobatics with heartfelt storytelling. Meanwhile, Caravanserai was an escape within an escape, with acts ranging from trapeze artists to brass bands.
One of the things I adored about Camp Bestival the most was its range of camping options and facilities. From VIP camping, family camping, glamping options to camping right near the main stage. The choices were endless. There was even an “assessable camping” field specifically for neurodivergent and disabled people complete with accessible showers closely, power cords, a coffee stall and a handy minibus to take everyone to and from the main festival site.
As a queer couple were lucky enough to have our very own large rainbow glamping tent courtesy of premium camping equipment brand Boutique Camping.
The tent was very easy to put up and came with easy to follow instructions. We were impressed at how spacious it was for the two of us as it could easily sleep 4. The self inflating mattress that was also sent by this fabulous brand was again easy to inflate and ensured three nights of blissful, comfortable sleep.
For those seeking a breather, the Slow Motion wellness area was an oasis of calm, offering everything from yoga sessions to sleep retreats.
As the final night approached, the famous Fireworks Spectacular was the crown jewel, wrapping Lulworth Castle in a symphony of sound, light, and fire. DJ Yoda’s curated soundtrack was the perfect accompaniment.
An hour long soak in a wood fuelled hot tub by the Wandering Wild Spa ended the whole weekend on a blissfully relaxed note.
If you missed this year’s Camp Bestival Dorset, fret not. The enchantment continues at Camp Bestival Shropshire from 17 – 20 August with headliners like Rudimental, Primal Scream, and Groove Armada. And for those already nostalgic, Camp Bestival Dorset 2024 tickets are right around the corner!
In the words of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Camp Bestival truly houses “The most joyful crowd out there.” It’s a sentiment that resonates deeply with anyone who’s been a part of this incredible journey. Here’s to many more years of Camp Bestival magic…