Camp Bestival really go above and beyond in terms of the ‘more than just a music festival’ slogan adopted by Latitude but attempted by increasing amount of camping weekends. For the third year running, Rob Da Bank and Sunday Best have, in the shadow of Lulworth Castle, curated a family-orientated festival that managed to bridge the gap between Glastonbury and a Butlins park in a way that even ATP, in an actual Butlins park, can’t quite seem to muster. Most of it really is down to the kids. Endless amounts of young children with their parents – the Family Camping area is about ten times bigger than the ‘Non-Family Camping’ area, which was full of kids anyway, waking us up at 8AM – running amok, waving their bubble swords and getting a festival high that us older folk, feeling endlessly older next to all these youngsters, can only achieve with our assorted substances. And kids, well, they have to be kept entertained, meaning every corner you turn contains a surprise – box forts, helter skelters, medieval jousting, dressing up tents, puppet shows, giant blank statues and free paints – intended to delight and keep quiet whilst mum and dad slip off to the bar. Hannah: The site is bigger this time, with the 'Kid's area' spreading down and behind the Castle. In the main, this made everything feel more spread-out and less crowded, but also allowed for additions such as the Little Big Top, Isle Of Boden tent (featuring DJ sets from Zero 7 and DJ Yoda, no less) and an actual Circus Big Top, putting on shows throughout the weekend. Also new to the site this year was a Freestyle Sports Village and the House Of Fairytales - both of which sounded exciting in the programme but sadly we didn't get round to really exploring either of them. For the first time this year I felt as though there was simply too much to see in a weekend; which was disappointing from my point of view but a huge achievement for a festival that is only 3 years old. Not every surprise is a colourful wonder, however. With so much going on, it seems natural that a few things would run less than smoothly, and instances of bad planning cropped up far more than was really acceptable from organisers with such extensive experience. Our first surprise came en route to the press tent to pick up our photo passes at about four in the afternoon, an hour after we’d arrived on site and pitched our tent – just as we were about to head backstage, we heard the weighty thump of the intro to Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip’s ‘Beat That My Heart Skipped’ and decided to postpone our press duties to go and see who was DJing. Arriving at the main stage, we were surprised to find Sac and Pip themselves, squinting in to the mid-afternoon sunshine and whipping a crowd of singing along teenagers in to a frenzy. Heading on to the grassy dancefloor, we praised our good luck at passing by at just the right time. Once we had our timetables, a massive flaw in the festival became clear: the campsite didn’t open until Friday morning, but bands started at one on Friday afternoon. It would have been physically impossible for us to get down from London in time for the first bands, meaning we had already missed Kid Carpet (which upset Hannah immensely) and were seriously lucky to catch Sac vs. Pip in time. Personally, I can’t see the logic in, at a Sunday Best-curated festival, putting one of their most popular flagship acts on in the middle of the afternoon before half of the audience had even arrived (and before Tinie Tempah, no less, who’s club hip hop/dance mix failed to hold our attention), but at least we caught them, and the anthemic material from their new album received an excited reception from the young crowd. The first of many bands we saw at Camp Bestival who are worthy of being called ‘Legends’ was The Fall, even if their Legendary status is mostly just to keep Mark E Smith quiet. And, of course, there he was, staggering about the stage, grabbing whichever microphone he pleased and basically just doing whatever he wants, as he’s always done. Unfortunately, in their advanced years, The Fall have lost a fair amount of the edge they once had which, combined with the fact that they have an absolutely ridiculous amount of material but barely anything that leaps out as a recognisable hit single, meant that their set was reasonably subdued and samey, causing us to abandon Smith and his band prematurely to go and explore in the woods and stop by the Rough Trade tent. It was George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic’s unmissable set that took up most of Friday night which, unfortunately, meant we had to skip seeing Billy Bragg. Scroobius Pip had said from the stage that Bragg would be performing three times over the course of the festival, but we could never find him – only his main set was listed in the program, which was full of errors anyway. The map was useless and so many of the set times were wrong, but to be honest, it hardly matters when faced with a life-affirmingly funky experience. After decades as a bandleader and p-funk mastermind it’s impossible for Clinton to put a foot wrong, and his colourful backing band were incredible, dancing on stage and making the two hour set fly by as Clinton, with his imposing on-stage presence, boomed his demands for funk. We got a few surprises in the shape of Clinton’s granddaughter coming out to rap, and a guy in a furry white suit who climbed all over the speakers, and the whole thing was just endlessly fun. Oh, yeah, by the way, Camp Bestival has ANIMALS. It’s AWESOME. There were alpacas and goats and rabbits and pigs and you could feed them and it was amazing. We spent a good chunk of Saturday morning getting over-excited at the sight of adorable creatures until we tore ourselves away to go and sprawl in front of the main stage for Lucky Elephant. Perfectly cheerful and pleasant, the French-led band made a great easy start to the day, but it seemed like they didn’t quite have enough people on the stage to bring the more complicated arrangements from their album to life, which was a shame. The Blockheads, however, did not disappoint in any way – they do what they’ve always done, and they do it brilliantly. “We’re the Blockheads, and it still goes like this!” yelled the band’s new singer (definitely a worthy replacement for the late Ian Drury) before launching in to ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll’. Obviously still having an amazing time on stage despite their advanced years, The Blockheads were great, and perfect for getting the middle-aged elements of the crowd all excited, but their set did lag a bit as it got towards the end, and people waited patiently for their other big single. You know the one. Stopping off at the Hendrick’s Gin carriage, we were delighted to find a musical saw player and some free gin, and we could have happily passed an afternoon there if not for Unicorn Kid playing on the Big Top stage. Thanks to his set clashing with Ellie Goulding, the one man chiptune project of Oliver Sabin began his set to a near-empty tent, but gradually managed to pull in more and more enthusiastic dancers as he went on. The bubbly electronic beeps were a perfect antidote to all the aging post-punk at the festival, and we left the tent exhausted from dancing so much, but endlessly happy. Hannah: Supposedly, at some point today, the Fancy Dress parade was meant to be occuring. Having been on Sunday in previous years, I remember reading both on the website and in the programme that it was on Saturday this year, but I couldn't find anything anywhere to say what time it was starting, so if it did happen, I'm afraid we missed it. There were enough people walking around in costume, however, to keep us amused throughout the day, featuring numerous Red Riding Hoods, a couple of Frog Princes and more than a few Pirates (a bandwagon I can safely say I was more than pleased to jump on). I was also saddened by the apparent absence of Bestival Blue Coats, having spent many happy hours in previous years watching sock fights, three legged races and hula-hooping contests and actively looked forward to the traditional "Hi-De-Hi" wake up call. But no matter - there was certainly more than enough going on in the way of weird and wonderful entertainment, and I wasn't about to spend my weekend dwelling on what wasn't there. Back on the main stage, the Town Crier (yes, Camp Bestival has its own Town Crier. It’s insane.) was whipping the crowd in to a frenzy for Lee “Scratch” Perry. With only bass, drums and organ backing him, Perry owned the stage with a confidence that can only come from years as a defining figure of a genre. It was amazing to see dub reggae, a genre that generally doesn’t hold my interest for too long, done by a true legend. Calvin Harris was supposed to be next on the main stage, but for some unexplained reason, he had switched with the Cuban Brothers. This was one example of administrative errors actually paying off, as the Cuban Brothers fit much better on the bill here than Harris would have. Dressed to the nines in flamboyant pink suits, the Brothers never stopped moving and encouraged the same from the crowd. Although they were fun to watch, we abandoned their set relatively early on to go and catch a bit of DJ Yoda’s set. The Big Top was packed with dancers as Yoda proved himself to be a flawless master of the decks, working the turntables in perfect synchronisation with the video mash-ups on the big screens. The token Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme, Disney songs and endless amazing tracks that none of us are ever likely to find for ourselves all fit together perfectly and got the crowd going in a way that few performers managed over the weekend. Of course, Saturday night was mostly all about Madness, yet another set of legends. From the opening ‘HEY YOU!’ that led in to the killer choice of first song in ‘One Step Beyond’, it was obvious that the band are still at the top of their game. Reel Big Fish may be great fun live, but they’ve got nothing on these guys. Suggs is an absolutely incredible frontman, with his suit, hat and sunglasses and fantastic dance moves. Unfortunately, thanks to the family nature of the festival, the crowd never really got going in the way that Madness deserve which made the stretches of songs between singles drag a little without any skanking to keep us going, though the band played a fitting tribute to Lee “Scratch” Perry and were still great, even after all this time. Sunday morning began with Marcus Brigstocke’s ‘Early Edition’, featuring Andre Vincent and Rufus Hound dissecting the day’s papers. Although the jokes passed by all the kids who had been dragged in by their parents, it was a perfect start, putting a smile on our faces for the day ahead. The smiles continued throughout DJ Yoda’s second set of the festival, billed as a Disney set. DJ Yoda playing nothing but Disney songs! Amazing! Unfortunately, for some reason, the set actually contained no Disney songs whatsoever, but Yoda compensated by mashing Spongebob Squarepants, Yo Gabba Gabba, Sesame Street, Bugsy Malone and The Wizard of Oz in to a hip hop epic that was watched by a bunch of seriously bemused kids, and probably enjoyed much more by the people in the crowd who were old enough to recognise all the samples. The massive smile on Yoda’s face as kids started dancing around to his creation was priceless, though. After getting a little over-enthusiastic so early in the morning, it was a welcome treat to collapse in front of the main stage for Chas and his Band. No longer playing opposite Dave, Chas has found new members to help him perform his fine selection of Rockney hits. They even played ‘Snooker Loopy’, which was probably the defining moment of my life so far. It’s good to see Chas still plugging away at the same old game, though he still talks about Dave all the time. I think he misses him. We then stopped by the Big Top to catch the start of Mr. Scruff’s mammoth four hour DJ set, which would begin at three and run on until seven. Four hours! I seriously wonder if anyone managed the whole thing. We lasted about forty five minutes of Scruff’s sublime mixing and adorable visuals before wandering off to get some food and head over to see the end of Calvin Harris. The main stage was absolutely rammed, with endless people as far back from the stage as they could get before their view would be obscured by a massive castle. Harris’ dance pop kept the crowd entertained but didn’t really do much for us – it’s alright for what it is, you know? – and once he was done, we worked our way through the crowd to get a good spot for the Human League. I don’t think I ever expected to enjoy the Human League live as much as I did. It’s probably quite easy for bands of their calibre to be insanely arrogant and impersonal on stage, alienating the crowd with some kind of forced aloofness, but the League are so down to earth, it’s brilliant. ‘Sometimes we’re popular, sometimes we’re not’, said Philip Oakey with a smile, half way through a set that involved costume changes, swinging keytars and endlessly danceable hits. Keen to keep the crowd whipped up, they spread out the really well known tracks, playing 'Tell Me When' second, and finishing (of course) with 'Fascination' and 'Don't You Want Me' which provided probably the best singalong of the festival so far. Leaving the stage after this fantastic close to their set, the crowd weren't having any of it, and kept up the singing until they returned to close - for real this time - with 'Electric Dreams'. After the League had played their encore – telling of the respect they’ve earned and the quality of their set, isn’t it? That they were allowed to do an encore when they weren’t even headlining – ex-KLF oddball Bill Drummond was due to perform with his new project, The17. We had spotted a sign-up booth for the experimental choir earlier on in the weekend and were excited to see what the man most famous for burning one million pounds and leaving a dead goat at the Brit Awards would cook up. The whole crowd was stumped when Drummond walked out to place a big red sign on the stage, left as eerie voices echoed over the speakers for ten minutes, and then came on again to pick up the sign. Yeah. Whatever. Headliners Friendly Fires are far from my cup of tea but when you really get down to it, it’s just harmless pop music. Good fun to dance to, and good fun to watch, too, as Ed Macfarlane busted out some serious grooves to the delight of the squealing teenage fans in the front row. Mindlessly repetitive after the first few songs, we understandably lost interest and headed out of the crowd to sprawl on the ground and wait for them to finish. Then, all that was left was to watch the fireworks, which were expertly set to a DJ Set curated by Rob Da Bank himself. So, Camp Bestival. I very much doubt a similar festival experience exists anywhere else. Weird, flawed, but ultimately wonderful. Photos by Rob Evans and Hannah Morgan