Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Camp Bestival - Family Fun in Threes

I was lucky enough to win tickets to Camp Bestival after entering a competition on Twitter with +notonthehighstreet.com - we found out on the Monday and that gave us *just* enough time to get together all our camping gear, organise last minute holiday from work (husband not me!) and rearrange our lives slightly to enable us to go. It was fantastic and it was an experience I was so glad to be able to give my two little boys. We are off on a camping holiday in France at the end of the month, so it was great to give camping a trial run too (although, honestly, I hope that none of our pitches in France will be quite as sloping, and I'm also hoping for flushing loos!).

There's so much to say about Camp Bestival - it's such an amazing family experience. There are very few people who go without kids, so you really feel like you are part of one extended family. There's no shushing if your little ones get over excited, there's no tutting if they decide to have a tantrum, and there's always someone on hand with baby wipes if you can't lay your hands on your own. My little ones aren't really the type to run off - but if there were I imagine it would be slightly less stress-inducing knowing that they are surrounded by 'mummies and daddies' who have little people of their own.

In fact, there's so much I could say about Camp Bestival, I'm going to have to reign myself in a little - we could be here until next year's event otherwise! So I've grouped a few of our favourites into 'Top Threes' to give you an idea of the variety of things we enjoyed!

Top Three Experiences
1. Camping
We've camped with Harry before, but it was before he was 2 and I don't think he remembered anything about it. There's something about sleeping under canvas that is so special. We arrived at the camp Thursday evening and there wasn't a huge amount of choice of pitch left - we ended up on the least-sloping pitch we could fine, but it wasn't exactly level. We later found that there were a few pitches closer to the festival that might have been better, but as new festival-goers, we just went with what we could get! The first night saw me moving in with Harry as he was rolling all over the place. This was actually one of the best bits for me - I seldom get to lie and cuddle my biggest boy, and this was the perfect opportunity :-)
2. Festival Feel
This was the first festival for all of us. I suppose it was as we expected - you see festivals on TV and it always looks so fantastic - but you can't really describe the atmosphere when you get there. We were blessed with some lovely weather, especially on Saturday, and the lowering sun behind the flapping flags thronged with happy people is something I will never forget.
3. The Freedom
Seeing our little ones hare around, whilst knowing they were completely safe was wonderful - Archie, who has only been walking for the past couple of months particularly enjoyed the freedom!

Top Three Activities
1. Dingly Dell
With two under 5s, Dingly Dell was a great draw for us, it was a fairy forest full of crafts and story telling - perfect for our little ones. Harry made a wish on the wish tree, and was even enticed into doing some craft! He really wanted to know where the fairies were and why they weren't in their houses and went hunting with a magnifying glass for them. There was also a play park with swings and a slide, which Harry really enjoyed. Archie was entranced by the fiery lights when we visited after dark.
2. Camera Obscura
It seems amazing that in this digital age a Camera Obscura can still be so entrancing. After all, many of us hold devices with the ability to make instant videos in the palms of our hands. However, nothing can beat being in that dark little room observing those outside, who are completely oblivious. If you've never visited one, you must!
3. The Percussion Orchestra
The Royal Albert Hall 'Percussion Orchestra' was a big favourite with the boys, and the way they created a whole piece of music with the little ones was just amazing - all interspersed with some great classic tunes. The boys loved it and so did I!

Top Three Music
1. Proclaimers
Watching our little boys with their Scottish heritage dancing along to '500 miles' has got to be one of the highlights of the weekend :-)
2. Levellers
We weren't sure if we were going to catch The Levellers - a band Ian was keen to watch. We hadn't invested in a trolley and ear defenders like many of the more serious music fans, deciding instead that we would just cut our losses and head back to the tent if we needed to. However, with the little one asleep in the buggy and the big one happy to snuggle on the picnic blanket we were able to catch some of their set, which was great.
3. Ady Suleiman
We caught this guy's dulcet tones as we were finishing up an evening play in the sand pit. We were both drawn in and really enjoyed the end of his set, definitely a great chill out for a summer's evening with a drink in hand.

Top Three Food
1. Mexican
It was a bit tricky thinking of things to buy for our slightly fussy two. We brought enough supplies of cheese sandwiches to see us through lunches, so at least they gobbled that up! However, Nachos were certainly a real hit - although we did fairly quickly scrape off the jalepeno dip. I'm not sure that would have been such a big hit.
2. Churros and Chocolate
What could be better of a summer evening that some tasty, sugary doughnuts dipped in chocolate? Not much, I think - and the boys agreed.
3. Fish and Chips
The food at Bestival was great - it wasn't your usual scuzzy burger van, but high end, delicious and well cooked food. The fish and chips were no exception. Scrummy!

Top Three Souvenirs
1. Programme
The programme was £10, but it was definitely essential. It all came in a lovely bag, which we proceeded to use for snacks and contained an almanac, a handy programme on a lanyard, a colouring book - and, most essentially - a CBeebies magazine - a great hit with H.
2. Guardian Bags
The Guardian were giving away great, brightly coloured canvas rucksacks when you purchased a copy of the paper. They also had a handy kids magazine contained- again, a great idea for some down time for the kids. We couldn't resist getting all three bags. However, with 2 little ones, we're still working on reading all the content!
3. Camp Bestival T Shirt
We couldn't resist buying H a t shirt to commemorate his first festival. We chose the one with the artists names on the back. We were going to get navy (I don't buy white for myself or my children as we have a propensity for getting grubby and my laundry skills aren't up to it) but they'd sold out so we got pink. My boy looks lovely in pink so we were really pleased when we saw it on him. He gets called a girl everywhere we go any way, so a pink T shirt isn't going to make any difference!

Harry's Top Three
1. Dressing Up
Harry's not always the biggest fan of dressing up, but he got into the festival spirit and refused to attend without his pirate outfit! Unfortunately this did mean we lost his little foam sword (woe - it was my fault :-( ) I guess losing things and knowing they are gone for good is a lesson to be learnt and he did quite well bless him, shedding just a few bitter tears.
2. Sand Pit
Without a doubt Harry's favourite place at the festival was the massive sand pit. He spent hours here digging, building and generally getting covered in sand!
3. Bubbles
We loved watching the bubble stand at the festival, especially the smoke bubbles. Amazing!

Archie's Top Three
1. Dancing
Archie grooving away as we listened to the sing a long Jungle Book is a sight I will never forget!
2. Percussion Band
Banging noisily and being ALLOWED to? Win/win!
3. Dingly Dell at Night
Archie was mesmerised by the lights and fire in the Dingly Dell at night. We had to wait in a MASSIVE queue to get in, but it was really worth it.


  1. I love how top three souvenirs are the same :) We also had an amazing time and loved the Dingle Dell - great place for little kids :)

    Lovely post
    Laura x

    1. Thanks for replying. We had such a fabulous time! We would love to go again!

  2. I am so glad you made it, gathered all that kit and had an amazing time AND got to see some bands. Sounds like you had a magical festival, took me back reading about it! Between you and me, after tweeting about trollies, the trolley didn't work out as well for us this year, ours are too big now! x

    1. Ugh I meant to reply to you but posted a new comment instead. Thanks for all your advice! ;-)

  3. To be honest I think ours were a tiny bit little for it this year! Archie would have spent the whole time trying to get out and Harry would have felt a bit uneasy about it I think! Also would have meant needing ear defenders. Will definitely consider it again if we are lucky enough to go when they are still little ones :-D Your list was my absolute BIBLE whilst packing! Thank you!

  4. We've been talking about going to a festival for a while just not sure I can face camping with Henry yet. Love this write up though gives a really good feel for the place.