The famous family friendly extravaganza that is Camp Bestival in Dorset turns 14 this year and the festival has not only grown and developed but for 2022 it has gained a younger sibling in Shropshire. First there was one and now there are two incredible family festivals serving the UK community. If you haven’t yet been to experience the extreme sport that is festivalling with kids then you need to. Here’s ten reasons why we love Camp Bestival and plan to go again next year to celebrate Camp Bestival in Dorset turning 15:
Dance to some tunes
Whatever your jam – Camp Bestival is bound to get that body moving.The music is on point each year with big name acts that you and the kids will recognise and tunes to get the atmosphere pumping. We particularly enjoyed bopping along to Rudimental, Example and Faithless. We dropped moves to Junior Jungle, General Levy and Rodigan. Oh and did we mention that we broke a world record with Sister Sledge’s and shouted ‘BOGIE’ at the top of our lungs with Dick and Dom!? An incredible experience hearing the word Bogie resounding around the campsite well into the night (and the following day!).
The line-up at Camp Bestival always has a brilliant mix of well known household names alongside talented newcomers and there is enough of a mix of genres and styles to get everyone on their feet (even the little people!).
We’ve done a bunch of festivals in our time as parents and Camp Bestival is by far the most family friendly and accessible.This is because of the community atmosphere and the friendly vibe of the place – in the words of Sister Sledge ‘we are family’! There are families and children everywhere so everyone understands the frustrations and the joys of minding small children. People are helpful and friendly, ready to share some banter whilst the kids make friends and many families come back year after year so the more you come the more likely you are to bump into people you have met before. It is a joy.
Try something new
Attending a festival with children is like an extreme sport; intense, satisfying, extremely entertaining but also exhausting. If by the end of the weekend you are not completely drained then you haven’t played hard enough. The key is to jump in with both feet and allow yourself to go with the flow of the experience. Dress up, wear the glitter, stay up all night, make friends, get involved in the activities (more than you have time and energy to do), try a craft, sample a new drink, get a massage, roll down the hill, get mucky in the mud kitchen, carry your kids (or pull the trolley along) and get to relive a second childhood (with less sleep and more alcohol!) What I’m saying is that there are a lot of new experiences to be had. The freedom in the fields is yours for the taking so get involved.
There is nothing quite like camping in the great outdoors. There is something very wholesome about the experience. The fresh air, the grass and the freedom to run around with a backdrop of booming bass in the distance and the hum of other families all around. We made marshmallows and experimented with smoored. Rolled down the hill – even involuntarily at night as we pitched our tent on a hill, got to have adult only time outside our tent on one of the evenings when the kids went to bed early, told stories by torchlight, worked together to get our tent up and felt cozy sleeping in the fresh air. If you decide not to camp there are still plenty of ways to enjoy nature and as you catch an outdoors circus show, musical performance or just dancing under the stars. There are also mud kitchens, tree climbing and Wild Tribe brings plenty of incredible things to get involved in (from building your own woodland playground with real tools – yes hammers, nails and saws) through to ziplines, bushcraft and African drumming circles. Enjoy a hot chocolate by a firepit, take a stroll through the magically lit woodlands and experience nature in all her glory.
There is a wide range of food options available at Camp Bestival – many are child friendly (pizzas, pastas, fruit, friend chicken, wraps, kebabs and lots of variations of chips). The Feast Collective, located in the Upper Kids’ Garden is the place to go for foodie fare. Here you can expect communal tables inside a marquee with various stalls and stands of foodie fare. Whilst the kids try their hand at circus tricks (or catch a performance on the grass) you can delight your taste buds. Here is also where you will find DJ BBQ’s Wild Fire Stage (the food is AMAZING and the music on point!) as well as smoores, decent fast food (duck burgers, crispy fried chicken, paella and fresh fruit kebabs, coffee and hot chocolates). We particularly enjoyed snacks from Poor Boys, tacos from Mexican Seoul and Randang (fragrant chicken on a bed of rice) from Makatcha. Yum.
There are also smaller pay-what-you-can areas throughout the site that serve proper hot chocolate in proper cups. Worth a visit if you need a little quiet time in between performances.
Entertain the kids
Where else can you have a bounce on the world’s largest bouncy castle, try your hand at making mud pies, go tree climbing, zip down wires, watch Horrible Histories, have a go at circus skills and make a robot out of junk? There is so much on offer for children of all ages at Camp Bestival. Every direction you wander you encounter an impromptu performance, cosmic yoga sessions, glitter and face painting tents, Horrible Histories shows, musical bingo and lots of chilled sessions where you can sit on the grass and take it all in. The kids will have more than enough stimulation and if you happen to want a break there are also festival nannies on site which can help with childcare (and continue to entertain the kids). SOLD!
The fireworks display
Sunday night – the last day of the festival – always goes out with a bang. You can expect a spectacular fireworks display with lights, projections and music that takes over Lulworth Castle and the surrounding area to bring you something quite magical. I always get quite emotional during this part of the festival. It is the end but it is also a celebration of life, unity and creativity. All wrapped up in a magically colourful and dramatic show.
Make new friends
Camp Bestival is one of the friendliest festivals around. Unlike at other festivals it is likely that the people to the right, left, in front or behind your tend have kids. This means they get it – both the frustrations and the joys! It also means the kids (and adults) can make friends. Each time we have come this young Londoner has kindled friendships either in the campsite or within the main arena and played, laughed and had all the fun.
Festivals are nowadays one large big piece of immersive art with performances, installations, colourful murals, sculptures, sets, stages and loads more. Creativity spills from the stages throughout the festival site and at Camp Bestival you have the opportunity to celebrate creativity in all its forms. From contemporary theatre, fashion, spoken word and crafts activities there are so many opportunities for you to get creative. This year we broke a world record getting creative with our bodies, learnt some new printing techniques, upcycled clothes and used our imaginations in the mud kitchen theatre.
Camp Bestival is designed for families but it is nice to have the option to enjoy some quality ‘adults only’ time and this is where Freckles Festival Nannies come in. You have the option to hire a private nanny (which is perfect if you are coming with friends and have multiple kids) or drop the kids off to one of the sessions with multiple kids where you know they will enjoy the company of other children and be well cared for by the nanny. They can provide services from newborns upwards and for very little ones there is a creche set-up at the Freckles Tent. All Freckles Festival Nannies have gone through a rigorous application process, and hold an Enhanced DBS and Paediatric First Aid certificate.
Tickets for Camp Bestival’s 15th Birthday in Dorset are on sale now – more info on costs (from £180 for adults and £72 for kids) and tickets here.