Matt Jones champions this year’s Bestival
Now in its tenth year, and winner of best Major Festival 2012, Bestival has grown to the stage where it is well worthy of its name, it can proudly stand right up there amongst the best festivals in the UK.
Bestival’s capacity (30,000 this year) may not come close to the numbers of the likes of Glastonbury and Reading-Leeds, but this is besides the point. Whilst it would be wrong to revert to the ‘size doesn’t matter’ cliché (for festivals at least, if you’re looking for major acts, it blatantly does), Bestival is a true case in point for the quality over quantity argument. At any rate, 30,000 is still enough of a large number to feel a part of something historic, and with the festival spread over a huge sight on the Isle of Wight, it is also a number that means facilities are not stretched- camping space, unlike some other festivals, is plentiful; and the toilet queues are mercifully short.
This year’s line-up is once again absolutely first class, and as in the spirit of the festival generally, there is a rich collage of music on offer, a delicious blend of genres. First up there’s the headliners; Bestival consistently manages to attract some of the biggest names in the music industry. Last year Stevie Wonder graced the main stage whilst this year the headliners number global icon Elton John and the legendary Snoop Dogg. The latter’s performance has an added element of intrigue; as following his recent much-publicised conversion to Rastafarianism it will be interesting to say how Snoop juggles his gangster rap ‘Dogg’ classics with his new persona as Snoop Lion. There will also be performances from two bands at the forefront of indie rock over the last decade: Franz Ferdinand and Flaming Lips. M.I.A will be playing her only festival gig in the UK this year, whilst disco legends Chic will be performing.
In the area of electronic music Bestival stands out as a standard bearer. Away from the main stage Bestival has two dedicated venues for ravers; the big-room feel of The Big Top and the smaller, more intensive and colourful surroundings of the Bollywood tent. This year, Bestival has again shown a real awareness of current dance acts, with Disclosure and Julio Bashmore making appearances, whilst continuing to roll out dance music legends, with an all-star DJ lineup including Carl Cox and Richie Hawtin and the biggest names from Hospital records.
But what sets Bestival apart is its concept, a concept dreamt up by left-field Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank and his wife Josie. This concept is to be more than just a music festival, but a chance to be immersed in creativity and colour. Indeed, Bestival is a true feast for the eyes; wondering round the site and coming across sculptures like The Wishing Tree and The Swamp Shack makes the experience somewhat psychedelic. There is a uniqueness to the way the site is structured; the different ‘areas’ closely resemble the ‘lands’ commonly found in theme parks, and they each offer a different experience- whether its chilling in The Ambient Forest, trying out the science exhibitions in Tomorrow’s World or watching motorbike stunts at The Port. There is also a variety of non-musical entertainment on offer- live comedy, film screenings, poetry recitals and art classes are all on offer. The range of food available also beats other festivals hands down- as well as the classic festival burger vans, there is a range of cafes and world cuisine onsite, there’s even a Farmer’s market.
As someone who was lucky enough to experience four music festivals last year(the others were Benicassim, Global Gathering and Parklife) I can safely say that as much as I enjoyed the other three, Bestival was comfortably my favourite, an experience that will always stay with me. My advice to you is to act now, and buy your ticket, and join me on the Isle of Wight this September. You won’t regret it.