Words: Lindsay Allan
Photos: Veronika Moore

Set in the rather beautiful countryside of Lulworth Castle, Dorset, Camp Bestival is unlike any other festival I've experienced.

The giant letters on site of ‘HI DE HI and ‘HO DE HO’ are more than just the stereotypical greeting erected for decoration. This festival embraces all aspects of the 'summer camp' ideology. There’s a far greater sense of trust than at any other festival, where I wouldn’t dream of leaving anything lying outside my tent. But with so much room to camp, families had their own mini-gardens set up outside their house-sized tents, with chairs, tables, BBQs and toys.

The site was treated more like a holiday campsite than a festival. No litter was left on the ground, toilets were always clean and ready stocked should you have forgotten the necessities. Families returned to their tents each evening to cook a sit-down meal together whilst the kids were entertained watching DVDs.

Just like its older brother Bestival, Camp Bestival had a dress up theme, this year being Medieval. Imagine it now, the dads as knights, the mums as maidens, and any baby on site had been dressed up as a dragon, being pulled along in a cart that had been made to look like a castle. You can't say these folk don't put the effort in.

It may sound like a middle-class hell to some, but personally it was light relief to not feel I always had to be on guard all the time, and truly have a relaxing time. Of course, there are still your groups of teens - marked out with their own identifying wristbands. But they couldn't have chosen a worst festival to act like yobs. This was evident when a group of topless lads taped their friend up to a trolley and left him in front of the portaloos. Whilst we all pointed an laughed initially, it didn’t take long to be drummed home that this wasn’t Reading, when a small frightened 5 year old girl emerged from the portaloos. Security were straight on it, grabbing the alcohol from his underage hands - but obviously not wanting to stop the fun, they left him tied up.

For such a range of ages the festival hosted a variety of acts over the weekend. Friday saw host of a lot of fantastic new acts such as Yaaks, Claire Maguire, and Fenech-Soler. With some fantastic comedy acts gracing the stage at night once the music had finished. The evening was completely parent friendly with Blondie headlining the main stage and Laura Marling finishing the lineup in the Big Top. Laura exclaimed this was her "favourite festival", as she played through songs from her previous albums, and a number from the upcoming "A Creature I Don't Know" due for release next month. New songs "Don't Ask Me Why" and "Salinas" were followed by latest single "Sophia", and "All My Rage". But songs such as "Ghosts" and "Alas I Cannot Swim" got Laura the loudest singsongs of her set.

As for Saturday, I was awoken by thousands and thousands of children screaming "BOGIES!!"; what was this weird craze that had taken over the kids?

Ah yes, Dick and Dom were in town. With Sooty and Sweep entertaining kids in the Big Top, and Dick & Dom encouraging us all to put our pants on our heads; I did feel like I was reliving my childhood. But once they warmed the audience up, Gentlemens Dub Club took over and absolutely won the crowd over. Parents teaching their kids to skank (some having no choice in the matter) was an amazing site. The band won themselves a lot of new fans from that set.

The non-offensive (opinion depending) Newton Faulkner brought a mum-hoedown, with his cover of “Bohemium Rhapsody” getting the biggest sing-along, and the evening saw Mark Ronson admit it had been “a shitty week” and paid a host of tributes to Amy Winehouse. From Dave McCabe of The Zutons singing the original version of “Valerie”, he also had Charlie Waller of The Rumblestrips perform their cover of "Back to Black". Ronson then performed “Valerie” once again, but his own version and asked the crowd to sing-along.

Whilst Groove Armada headlined the main stage, scheduling changes meant Mirrors headlined the second stage. Originally due to play Sunday afternoon, Mirrors had been moved to replace Nero and unfortunately it did not work in their favour. Following DJ Yoda who’d completely packed out the tent with a great set, the teenage crowd left in their hundreds. This led to Mirrors playing to a near empty tent. Despite playing a stellar set, they were noticeably disheartened as they claimed they were “off to kill ourselves”, as they finished their set.

Sunday was noticeably quieter as families started to pack up and leave, presumably for work the following Monday. Despite their upbeat set, Frankie & the Heartstrings struggled to get the crowd on their feet as they played through songs from album "Hunger", plus new song "And You Don't Say Anything". Weary parents and children asleep on the floor certainly aren't their usual audience.

However after a bizarre appearance from the National Ballet and kid favourites The Zing Zillas (one of whom is definitely modelled on Kevin Patterson of Kevin and Perry), The Correspondents took the stage and the atmosphere couldn't have been more different. Everyone was back up on their feet dancing, though if you can sit still and not feel obliged to move along with singer Mr Bruce's dancing then there must be something wrong with you. Winning over scores of new fans, The Correspondents played a storming set that re-energised all feeling the final day pains. And finishing their show with their remix of “Bare Necessities'” made them my favourite performance of the festival.

Beardyman continued to keep the crowd in the upbeat mood, starting by taking the piss out of Nero's no-show. He played through his set mixing up the likes of Katy B, MGMT, James Blake and the White Stripes. But for those wanting a calmer end to the festival, Benjamin Francis Leftwich played his folk-esque set in the Big Top. Initially his crowd was small, but slowly this built up as hordes of young females turned up to hear him play songs from recent debut "Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm".

Primal Scream brought the festival to a close, playing a set consisting of songs from their “Screamadelica” album, with projections shone upon the castle and fireworks lineup up to signal the end of the festival.

If you prefer waking to the sound of people relieving themselves or puking down the side of your tent as opposed to babies screaming, then Camp Bestival isn't for you. However aside from a few scheduling blips, I can't praise the running and organisation of this festival enough.