Launched a decade ago, Bestival has graced the Isle of Wight and every year has continually given festival-goers a line up of huge names and up and coming talent.
I’m not sure if it was the sea air or general excitement but whilst waiting for the ferry in Portsmouth I noticed an electric atmosphere, like Christmas Eve when you’re a child. Everyone was excitedly talking to everyone on the ferry, leaving any problems behind at the dock. On arrival, I was greeted with the spectacular scenery of the Isle of Wight. The island really is a fantastic setting for a festival, with rolling hills and fields in every direction. Having never visited, I wasn’t sure what to expect but its natural beauty overwhelmed me. After following what seemed to be a complete maze, going the wrong way and having to go the whole way back round (no thanks to the one way system that was in place), Bestival was in my sights.
Within the main arena, which to me felt like a small town, was everything you could possibly need; amazing food stalls, rides, free stuff, charity shops, caravans turned bars, fancy dress shops, a wedding chapel and most importantly, face paint stalls. It’s not hard to see why Bestival is so popular; the festival is packed with small microclimates with something to suit the tastes of everyone. From the gypsy caravan site, to rave ship HMS Bestival, to the Desert Island Disco, it’s impossible to be bored. The best thing about Bestival, in my opinion, is that it’s a festival that doesn’t sleep. Forget acts finishing at 11pm, the music goes on until at least 3 or 4am, leaving a couple of hours for after parties back at the camping areas before dawn.
Arriving on Friday, I sadly missed Thursday headliner, Beck, in The Big Top, but from what I could gather from those who got there before me, his performance was a brilliant start. Friday saw performances from Sam Smith, who got everyone singing along to his chart topper, Stay With Me. Things got a bit deep and emotional with I’m Not The Only One and Leave Your Lover, but followed by Disclosure, the feeling didn’t last long. I’ve seen Disclosure a few times but their performance at this year’s Bestival was the best I’ve seen them. Eliza Doolittle and Sam Smith lent their voices to the duo and they didn’t disappoint. Later on, OutKast graced the stage in what was their first performance for eight years. Mixed opinions across the campsites followed; many were disappointed with their set, expecting them to be livelier than they were. I would agree to an extent; for the songs that I knew, such as Roses and Hey Ya, they delivered but their other song choices weren’t the best. They were, inevitably, bigged up a bit too much prior to the festival and I felt their genre didn’t suit the crowd. It’s safe to say that on Friday night, and throughout the rest of the weekend, the more dance orientated acts fared best.
Saturday was all about the fancy dress, and I was overwhelmed and impressed at the commitment to it. Everyone embraced the desert island disco theme; people dressed up as pineapples or Hawaiian hula dancers covered in glitter whilst others opted for disco ball faces. Saturday morning was hard to face, but most of us made it up by the afternoon and out to see the likes of Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Route 94 and legendary Candi Station. One of my favourite Bestival moments was Candi Station blaring out Young Hearts Run Free and You Got The Love in the glorious September sunshine. Without a doubt, The Port was the place to be in the evening. The much awaited set from Annie Mac was brilliant but just not long enough and unfortunately clashed with Basement Jaxx who were in the Big Top, although Annie was the clear winner, with the crowd going back as far as the eye could see.
With a hangover to rival all others, I managed to catch Clean Bandit and Public Service Broadcasting, both of which were enjoyable despite my thumping headache. The last performances of the weekend were fantastic; Chic featuring Nile Rodgers got all the attention, but for me, the best act was Paloma Faith. Having never seen her before, I thoroughly enjoyed her set. Her performance, witty interaction with the audience and pitch perfect voice was well received – she kept everyone singing until the early hours. For those not into dance or house music, it may be best to go elsewhere, whilst the festival offers up and coming artists and niche genres, the focus is always on the biggest names in dance. The main downside to having such a jam-packed festival with a wide range of huge acts is that you don’t get to see them all, but next time I think I’ll go for some of the more unusual performers.
As the record breaking disco ball sparkled and glimmered over the glitter covered crowds, it felt that Bestival was the perfect end to the festival season and summer as a whole.