England: Summer festival fever (with kids)

Kids fun at Camp Bestival

At last, a festival that positively encourages music-loving Mums and Dads to bring the kids along so they can party too! Organiser Rob da Bank has described Camp Bestival as being aimed at “yummy mummies and freaky daddies”.

Do I qualify as a yummy mummy these days? In any case, I thought Camp Bestival was a magical experience for kids of all ages. For a start it is set in the magnificent grounds of Lulworth Castle, amid rolling Dorset countryside and only a few miles from the dramatic Jurassic coastline of England.

Lulworth Castle Camp Bestival

This is an event that tries to recapture the halcyon, intimate days of early English music festivals.  Only 15,000 tickets are released, compared to over 100,000 at Glastonbury. It goes for a sort of quirky 1950s British Holiday Camp vibe with plenty of nostalgic giggles.

Hedonistic fun at Camp Bestival

The line up has improved year on year and it’s not just about the music – Camp Bestival also has a rich offering of comedy, spoken word and theatre entertainment. The medieval castle setting is played on with a jousting display. There is also artistic endeavour; holistic massages and pampering; posh wash showers and clean toilets.

Jousting at Lulworth Castle

Camp Bestival hand picks the finest mobile eateries to ensure everyone is spoilt for choice, and there are delicious temptations at every turn. There’s a little Real Ale Festival, a farmer’s market, a fish stall selling local cockles and mussels, a sushi yurt and much more

Perhaps most amazingly, it is only a ten minute walk with your gear from the family car park to the site – a far cry from the epic treks required at some other UK festivals. The organisers go out of their way to make festival camping easy for parents with top quality facilities, parking next to the campsites, and easy access.

Camp bestival dressing up

Camp Bestival places a lot of emphasis on making the festival camping experience the best it can be, including the now ubiquitous “boutique camping” area. This is where the luxurious tipis, yurts, podpads, bellpads and gypsy caravans are available for hire. Each camping field has its own set of showers and toilets, and someone brings around tea and toast to those standing in line for the showers in the morning.

New in 2013 was an area for caravans and trailer tents because what better way to keep everyone in the family happy and ensure you all maximise sleeping hours than in a caravan. For those of you worried about leaving your caravan while you enjoy the festival, don’t be! There was a fire this year caused by some careless campers who hadn’t realised that their stove had leaked; fortunately the onsite fire service took care of the situation quickly and the campers involved escaped with only minor injuries. Other than that Camp Bestival is quite safe!

Holistic massage at Camp Bestival

Other attempts to keep the family campers happy included a late night silent disco – the idea being to turn off the music earlier than is the norm at festivals. But they didn’t count on the singing. As “So Sally can wait… ” rang out across the Dorset countryside, even those already tucked up in bed could vicariously enjoy the festival fever.

A dedicated under-fives tented area kept our little festival goer happy, as did special guest appearances from Mr Tumble, Spongebob Squarepants and Angelina Ballerina. But it really is fun for everyone, whether you want to dance your socks off or chill out in the sun.

Fancy dress at Camp Bestival

Don’t forget your fancy dress costume – this is not just for kids! – and there is help on hand if you are not travelling with the right outfit… This is not just any festival, this is Camp Bestival, where family fun and English eccentricity rule. The Wandering Kiwis loved it!

By Natasha von Geldern

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