Bestival 2012 – Review

September. Other than perhaps January, it’s probably one of the most hated months on the civil Gregorian calendar. It signals the official end of summer. The difference between the 31st of August and the 1st of September is so stunningly wide; you could probably fit a whole other month in that short 24-hour gap.The days become shorter, the nights become longer, the temperature begins to drop and everyone starts getting bunged up with the standard change of the season cold. Just to top this, no one has any money either. Spunked away on those beautifully long July evenings down the local for just a ‘quick pint’.

As I prepare myself for my first non-educational year since I was 3, I suppress the daunting thought that my future will result in me being stuck as a Waitrose checkout girl and focus on a 4-day beacon of hope set on the Isle of Wight. From September 6th-9th, me, 15 friends and roughly half of Brighton, allowed ourselves to succumb to the beautifully curated, love child of the Da Bank family that is Bestival.

After very little sleep, a 05:30 start and a frustratingly long queue to the wristband exchange, we finally managed to meet up with our fellow campers and began strategically setting up tents. One piece of advice I would offer to any budding Bestival go-er is get up early. Very early. It’s not necessarily a difficult journey to get to the Isle of Wight; it just involves a lot of waiting, a lot of queuing and a lot of patience. Despite us arriving at the entrance at 8:30am, it took us the next four hours to swap some paper for fabric, walk half a mile and put up a basic four-man tent. Also – if the weather forecast says 25-degree sun all weekend, don’t skip out on warm clothes. You’re on the highest point of a very small island and it feels arctic at night if you don’t have a decent 3 layers or a onesie to wear.

Our first day consisted of wandering around the campsites for about 3 hours, as the Main Arena didn’t open until 5. At any other festival this would be considered relatively dull. Usually after you’ve figured out the nearest possible toilet and water point, there’s not much else to do other than drink until you can’t stand up straight or piss off your neighbours. On top of having one of the largest variations of food stalls (Vegans and Vegetarians, you’ll be just fine here), there’s the Arcadia stage, situated near Orange camp, the Psychedelic Worm and Wishing Tree in green and blue, as well as the Soul Park near White and Yellow. Not to mention strange little additions such as the ‘Police Rave Unit’, which consisted of an old converted police riot van, fitted with 4 massive subwoofers that blared out Redlight at 8am.

We were lucky enough to camp within just about annoyance distance of the ‘Rocksmith’ stage. Now whenever I hear ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ I feel the need to throw an empty beer can as aggressively as possible in the direction of the speakers. Despite this, it did provide us with a degree of amusement. A wide variety of the inebriated campsite felt it necessary to get up on stage and either remove all of their clothing or they were under the deluded impression they were the next Axl Rose.

As Thursday is not considered an official day of the festival, we aimed to avoid making the same mistakes as last year and A: not get shit faced on the first night and feel as hung-over as Charlie Sheens career on the first proper day. And B: if there aren’t any acts you want to see for a couple of hours, don’t babysit the tent, go and wander around the 50 acres of amusement set up with you in mind because this festival is more than just about the music.

Armed with a Disaronno and coke in one hand and a festival program in the other, we set out like Christopher Columbus and his men to see what this years Bestival had to offer us. To start with we headed into the Stardust Field to see that everything was how we left it, despite the spiced up designs, art and decor, led by Creative Director – Josie da Bank. The stages, the tents, the bars, the fields, the restaurants and the outlets had all been manipulated and driven around this year’s theme of Wildlife. Whether it was from completely redesigning the Main Stage to having your staff dressed up in spandex fox jumpsuits, the attention to detail was exquisite. What kept me most captivated as we meandered around was the variation between each of the traders. From half naked men in Speedos to a group of traditional Japanese artists or to ‘Professor Voltini’ the festival seemed to have more decades and culture than an art museum.

One other thing that caught my attention was amount of tents and stalls selling nicer clothing than most high street retailers back home. The Secret Boutique, the largest outlet, had designers from just about every walk of life. Ceramicists, Jewelers, Fashion Designers, Vintage Specialists – the variety was incredible and not only did it have that unique festival feel to it, but it was also surprisingly good quality. One particular brand that caught our eye was ‘The Quiet Life’. This small American based business, had a variety of snap backs, five panels, shirts, t-shirts and vests that would quite easily fit into the Brighton fashion scene.  Regardless of the rather steep price tag, I noticed a few bits of their apparel sneakily made it back to our campsite.

After around 3 hours of poking our heads into strange little tents, not only had we not seen everything, but we were far from bored. We made our way back to Big Top to hear the end of the Alabama Shakes set and get another drink. Most of Thursday flew past in a blur. Having been awake for over 19 hours we decided to call it in at midnight, heading back to our tents for what would be the longest and comfiest nights sleep for the next 3 days.

One Comment

  1. boomtownwasbetter says:

    well-written review, doesnt sound all that though…