This year will be our 5th year at Camp Bestival and I’ll be honest, it’s been my favourite part of the Summer each year we’ve attended. Back in 2014 when we discovered we would be heading down to Lulworth for our first time at Camp Bestival, I frantically started searching for tips to help me prep for our family festival weekend.
Each year we’ve had different experiences, learned new tips, seen great acts, discovered different ways to enjoy ourselves and felt we should share some tips for those visiting for the first time this year.
Make a list about what you plan to take to Camp Bestival.
I love a good list and find it helps me relax a little when it comes to prepping for a weekend away. Divide your list into sections like Camping (what you will need on the camp site, e.g. Tent, sleeping bags, air beds etc.)/ Clothes (Costumes, day to day wear, spares, gear for all weathers)/ Food (if you want to save money then having a couple of meals at the tent can help)/ Extras (glow sticks, glitter and bubbles).
Once you have you list, try and halve it as you’re going to have to lug all that and your family down to your camp site. Which brings me nicely to my next tip.
Be prepared to carry everything to your camp site.
The general camp site at Camp Bestival is HUGE and hilly. Unless you pay to book a Festaxi (which are genius, but do come at a price), then you will be carrying every thing to where you want to pitch your tent. If you don’t mind a long walk to the festival site each day then it’s easy to roll up and pitch right as you leave the car park. But if, like us you like to be closer to the action, then you’re going to need a way to get everything up and down the hills between the car park and where the action takes place.
For the first few years we used a wagon, which did the trick, but as M has grown we decided to switch it up last year and buy a trailer that is usually attached to bikes. It’s all about what works for you, but practice your packing Tetris before the day and make sure you are prepared for multiple trips back to the car. I love setting up day as my Fitbit steps are usually rather epic by the end of the day.
Bring snacks and food you can cook at the tent.
If you are happy to splash the cash and you don’t want to eat at your tent, then there are SO many awesome food stalls to eat at across the Camp Bestival site. But if you want to save a little money so you can buy some Camp Bestival merchandise or get your kids a bubble gun or dino tail, then taking some snacks and food will help you out.
We take snacks for M to munch on throughout the day and things like cereal, bags of brioche or tins of beans and sausages and bread to knock up a quick meal at the tent. We have also found this is a great time to let your kids unwind for a bit before you head back onto the main site to dance the night away.
Prepare for sunshine or rain.
We’ve experienced Camp Bestival in glorious sunshine as well as the heaviest rain and realised we need to go more prepared for the extremes of the British weather this year.
But don’t let the weather put you off having a good time. When the sun is shining the cocktails are cool and refreshing and when it’s raining the dance tents and kids craft tents are great places to seek some shelter, trust me the fun continues!
Sun cream, shades and shorts are the way forward if the sun is shining, but it’s also worth packing wellies, waterproofs and wipes (for muddy legs). A great tip I learned after last year’s Camp Bestival was to pack a large Blue Ikea bag in case of rain. Pop it by the inside of the front door of your tent if it rains, and then step into it as you enter your tent to remove your wellies. This keeps all the water in the bag, meaning you can empty it outdoors when the rain stops rather than attempting to mop up the inside of your tent.
Buy a programme when you arrive.
A programme helps you plan your weekend as well as helping you to find out where all the main action is on site. You also get a handy lanyard with the timings of the acts, that you can carry with you on site, save lugging the full programme around with you.
But don’t let the programme timings stop you from going off plan and exploring the site. There is so much to see and do and still things we are discovering for the first time on each visit. My best advice is to have little moments where you just explore and take everything in. When we did this one year we discovered some domes that we climbed inside to learn about the planets and constellations. It ended up being one of Clara’s favourite Camp Bestival moments ever!
Throw away your routine for the weekend.
Let your little one’s nap when they need to, late nights are a possibility for the smalls and with so much to do on site you may find yourself with a tired little person. This is where a wagon or trailer is perfect for midday naps or a snooze on site at night whilst you dance to the main act on the Castle stage. M has slept through the loudest music, snoozed as the sun was shining high and fell asleep in minutes as happy campers sang loudly within 5 ft of our tent.
You know your children better than anyone so if you do plan to keep to a routine, make sure you have someone you can tag team back at the tent so you don’t miss out on all the action.
Let yourself go.
There will be costumes, dancing, singing, parades and more glitter than at a Gay bar during Pride weekend. Camp Bestival is the perfect place to really let yourself step away from the sometimes grey day to day of Monday to Friday life. Sing at the top of your voice, dance like you’re living your best life and paint your face with the brightest face paints you can find.
It took us a couple of years to fully embrace the festival way as neither Clara and I were festival goers as teens, so it really was like learning a new way of life. But now that M is into dressing up in various costumes we are looking at how we can put more fun into our festival experience.
Pack a powerbank.
You are going to want to take photos, tweet about how much fun you’re having and share your favourite eats on Instagram and all that takes up battery power. For £20 you can pick up a powerbank from Amazon that can keep your phone powered for the whole weekend. It’s also handy to have power on your mobile so you can maintain contact with your friends and family on site in case you split up to catch different acts.
Just don’t forget to charge it before you leave home!
Do something new.
My final tip is something I have tried to do each time we have been to Camp Bestival. It could be eat something you’ve never eaten before, listen to a new style of music, step outside your comfort zone with some glow in the dark face paint. You may discover something you really enjoy.
Tickets for Camp Bestival are on sale now! Camp Bestival takes place in the beautiful Dorset Countryside 26th-29th July 2018.
As Official Camp Bestival bloggers we receive our tickets in return for promotional posts and coverage of the event.