It was a brave decision by organiser Rob Da Bank to name the festival, as it is a difficult task to be the ‘best’ of all the festivals. However, after attending this years Bestival, I believe it is in fact the best festival of all.
There is no doubt that Bestival is one of the leading platforms for dance and electronica bands, with a line-up including big names such as Boy Better Know, The Chemical Brothers, Missy Elliot and Jamie XX. However, the festival offers a diverse range of genres and musical acts, spanning from Action Bronson to Duran Duran. For me, the sheer range of music was the main highlight of the weekend, as never before have I experienced this at a festival. Staggering from Duran Duran (a band firmly within the pop rock genre) to FKA Twigs (part of a growing genre ‘indeitronica’) was slightly disorientating but also strangely sociable, as each different band attracted a completely different crowd.
I was also impressed by the quality of music that was shown at each stage at Bestival, as normally the stage gets smaller proportionately to the quality of music . However, at Bestival the small stages had acts that were fairly unknown but actually all equally as good. This was shown most obviously at the Kaleidoscope stage where, regardless of the time, it was almost guaranteed that there would be a great band on.
Another highlight of the festival was, for me, the crowd. Shrouded in ‘wavy garms’ the crowd’s enthusiasm was catching. Regardless of the hideous weather on Sunday, people still swarmed towards ‘The Port’ to watch Skrillex, and I even witnessed a brave couple throw themselves through the mud to slide on their stomachs to ‘The Big Top’. As odd as it sounds, I also appreciated the civility of the crowd, as whenever I was pushed within a crowd it was guaranteed that someone would apologise.
It goes without saying that the theme and decoration within the festival was incredible – I was amazed at how much effort had been put into this aspect and perhaps even more staggered that people weren’t trying to ruin it. There was a massive disco ball centered in the middle of the festival, which served as a perfect meeting point, and also a giant robot and a ‘wishing tree’. Each landmark was painstakingly accurate, and also emphasised the slightly alternative vibe that Bestival has. Furthermore, it further reiterated the fact that Bestival is not just all about the music. In addition to these landmarks, there was also a wood that was full of odd features, such as the lover’s bench and a carp lake. After much searching, we also managed to find a field of llamas that we slightly confusedly petted. Finally, there was also a carnival that wove through the crowd at around midday everyday, which managed still to be impressive on Day 4 . I think that the decoration and theme that Bestival had was important in that it allowed the festival to be opened up to a wider audience as visually the festival could be enjoyed by families and young people.
Another part of Bestival, which was an important feature, were the many stalls and workshops that lined the edges of the festival. The promotion units such as the Southern Comfort stall and the Tia Maria stall offered mini golf and face painting, whilst stands such as the Rimmel stand were giving out free makeovers. The many bars and shisha cafes also added an alternative vibe, specifically highlighted by the bar that was created out of campervans with ladders going up leading to a bridge across two campervans. Finally, it is worth mentioning the high quality of food that was offered at Bestival, which, for me, is a deal breaker. A personal highlight was purchasing a roll of fresh sushi from ‘The Feast Collective’, which is a collection of artisan chefs and street food specialists. The array of food was unlike any festival I’ve ever been to.
Moreover, there were tents offering flower headband workshops and yoga at the early hours of the morning (early being 9am). There was also a tent named ‘Bestiversity’ which offered talks on politics and also comedy. This was a tent that had acts that appealed to almost everyone, and was a good alternative to the music.
Perhaps the only slight criticism I could make of the festival is that some fairly high profile acts were placed in tents that were clearly unable to hold many people. This was shown on Friday night when Redlight played in the Bollywood Tent, and there was an absolute jam at the entrance as no one could get in or out. Walking into the tent whilst these high profile bands were playing was similar to walking into a fire, the heat absolutely unbearable. This would be my only criticism however.
Overall I had an incredible weekend and, unusually, this was not all to do with the music but rather the overall experience of Bestival. Unlike other festivals, Bestival offers a clear theme, this year ‘the summer of love’, incredible decoration and a wide array of food and different stalls. This made the festival accessible to everyone and for that I believe Bestival is a fairly unusual festival. I would thoroughly recommend booking a ticket for next year, as Bestival seems to live up to its name and is literally the ‘best of all’.
Written by Izzy Brown
Missy Elliott photography by Victor Frankowski