We have just got back from Camp Bestival in Dorset and had an amazing time. Like most things, Camp Bestival has changed over time, so I thought I would put together an up-to-date post of hints and tips.
If you are heading to Weston Park, Shropshire for their new festival from 18th-21st August, many of their facilities and vendors are the same, but the venue is different, so worth bearing that in mind.
The differences between general camping, camping plus and boutique camping remain the same, but in a nutshell, general camping is a free for all and you are best off turning up on Thursday to get the best camping spot, camping plus allows you to book your camping plot before you arrive and boutique offers you a pre-pitched, glamping experience.
We opted for camping plus this year and arrived Friday morning. All the pitches are clearly marked out and it doesn’t take long to find your way to your tent, using flags and markers displayed on all the tents.
There were two areas for the showers this year, a male and female block at the top of camping plus and a unisex block at the bottom of camping plus. We preferred the unisex block, purely as they had a little bit more room and you could get changed in the cubicle, rather than the changing rooms, but the others were quieter. TOP TIP: Showers are quietest in the afternoons, be prepared for a 20-30 minute wait in the morning
Toilets were either chemical toilets which had a sink and running water, or compost toilets. Both were kept clean and toilet roll replaced regularly. There were also urinals for the men, which weren’t screened off, not that the men seemed to mind.
Our best investment of the weekend were the charging lockers, which are available in general camping and camping plus.
They cost £26.50 for the weekend and had enough room to store your valuables, plus two USB points and a plug, so you could charge your phones / camera’s etc.
There is also a general store and couple of food stalls selling tea / coffee / breakfast and meals.
Others require you to turn up early and book. My kids really wanted to do the tree climbing again this year and I was advised queuing started at 8.30am with booking open at 9am. I arrived at 8.30am and found that queuing had in fact started at 8am and it was fully booked by the time I got to the front of the queue.
Other areas that I would advise booking early are Wild Tribe / Spinney Hollow craft workshops and the Indian Bazaar which offer ink printing, bucket hat making and henna tattoos. Booking opens every day, to give everyone a fair chance to book the day / time slot they prefer.
The real selling point of Camp Bestival is that many of their activities are free, so there is lots to keep the kids entertained, including the science tent, circus skills area, lizzie’s way, dingly dell, giant sandpit and kids play area.
However, there was a real absence of brands this year and many of the fabulous charities that provided activities, did make a charge for them to help cover their costs. We polished fossils with the Jurassic Coast Trust at £6 each and made our own rockets with Mission to Mars, £5 each.
Food and Drink
It is no surprise that food prices have gone up in line with the price rises we are all facing. If you are camping on site, I would recommend you self-cater as much as possible.
If you are on a tight budget, I recommend you self cater breakfast, lunch and snacky items to help keep hunger at bay, especially if you have children. Water is freely available throughout the site, so take empty reusable water bottles and the miniature squeezy squash bottles from the supermarket before you go to flavour them.
We averaged a £50 a day spend on food (for five of us), which included treating the kids to their favourite dinner’s to include burgers, hot dogs, sweetcorn and churro’s.
You are also allowed to take alcohol into the campsite, but be aware that no glass is allowed. Thankfully Tesco sell Banrock Station wine in plastic bottles. We took snacks and some drinks into the main arenas with us, with no issues.
Camp Bestival has gone CASHLESS!!!
We have always taken cash, if only for the fairground rides and smaller stalls, but the only areas that we could use cash, were the charity stands and even they had card machines.
If you plan on giving the kids pocket money, it is worth getting them a prepaid card and top-up before you go.
Take something to keep the kids occupied
Toys can be expensive on site and with the best will in the world, there will be times when the kids are not interested in the band you really want to see.
Eliza and Sebby both had small backpack’s with their chosen toys / games and books for the weekend, which worked perfectly to keep them occupied. Think notebooks, colouring pens, top trumps, bubbles, poi’s, yoyo’s etc.
Slightly larger, garden games work better in the campsite and can keep them occupied whilst you go for a shower or get ready for the day.
Get a lanyard as soon as you arrive and plan around who you want to see and who you really don’t want to miss.
Also follow @CampBestival on social media, or check https://dorset.campbestival.net/news/stage-times-and-latest-updates daily, as they can be time changes. We missed Gok Wan’s set because of unforseen changes, but it did mean we got to see Razorlight instead.
It is a festival and the toilets are mostly compost toilets and urinals for the men. We found them mostly clean and with toilet paper and hand sanitiser, although I would always recommend you take your own loo roll or tissues, just in case. Don’t bother paying for the posh loos unless you really have to, they’re overpriced and just not worth the money.
Go with the flow
Sometimes when you don’t have a plan, things magically happen. There are pop up shows that happen throughout the day and bands you have never heard of, that capture your heart.
Have you been to Camp Bestival before – what are your top tips?
Disclaimer: We were invited to attend Camp Bestival for the purpose of a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own