Guy Goes To Camp Bestival, Has Time Of His Life

Art & Culture

Camp Bestival: A Fairy Tale of Dreamy Delights

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

― G.K. Chesterton

Oh to be a child again. Even for the briefest of moments. To forget your responsibilities, your worries and cast off the shackles of middle aged mediocrity. What if I told you that for 4 days a year, thousands of people were able to do just that: to wander, play and let your imagination run wild in a field under the watchful gaze of a fairy tale castle. Don’t believe me? Read the story of Camp Bestival. Bathed in sunshine we traversed the magical fields surrounding Lulworth Castle in Dorset. Music, dance and laughter greeted us from the minute we arrived. Unfurling and spread out like pages in a book, the festival site was spectacular. 

With our two toddlers in tow we set off to explore and conquer the kingdom surrounding us. Entering through the Lower Magic Meadow, the aptly named Big Top Tent and Camp Bestival institution that is the Bollywood tent, welcomed us with open arms. The senses were overwhelmed as soon as we stumbled upon Caravanserai, built entirely from vintage caravans and fairground rides, humming to the rhythm of gypsy-fuelled vintage beats. There's nothing like a dance with a toddler and a fine cocktail to awaken that festival spirit! The Wall of Death, Oberon’s Observatory and the Train of Thoughts were a few of the other mind-boggling attractions. On we traveled to the Castle Field to see the likes of Kaiser Chiefs 808 State (Nice save – Ed.), Slaves and, of course, The Cat in the Hat! The Cuban Brothers, Steve Backshall and The Buzzcocks, to name but a few, highlighted the main stage. True magic, though, comes when you least expect it and the Wild Warriors of the Cossack stole the show. Dancing horses and trick riding at speed; a display of mastery over horses that bedazzled.

Camp Bestival had it all, as if born from the imagination of children there were activities for all ages and interests. Just when you thought you could sit back and tuck into some of the scrumptious food on offer at the Feast Collective in the Upper Kids’ Garden, the Funky Choir, a giant giraffe or a walking band would parade past. Performance theatre, storytelling, shadow play and puppetry in The King of Tiny Things captured the imagination like nothing else in the Lower Kids’ Garden. The catchy songs had the audience in raptures, providing an epitaph for the festival itself: “cast off our cloak of childish things and now that we've earned our wings, we'll fly…” The Insect Circus & Museum, the boozy Travelling Barn and Guardian Literary Institute were all infectious in their inspiring charm. 

There is so much more that captivates and enraptures you than this story will ever be able to live up to. Igor Rasputin's Caravan of Lost Souls, a pop-up circus of fantastic freaks, was a grotesque delight that you couldn’t bear to watch and didn’t want to miss. The Scarecrows’ Wedding, an adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s endearing and heart-warming tale, delighted an audience of all ages. Slinking off down into the Dingly Dell as dusk fell offered a cool, mystical retreat with enchanted rivers of light beneath the canopies of trees. In spite of the wild and wonderful, it was perhaps surprising that the timeless classics seemed to really captivate our kids; the magic of a merry go round lit up at night, humans dressed as bears, Puppet Shows, full of double entendres and as gory and violent as ever. 

I never believed in dragons but they always captured my imagination as a child. Now I feel as though I have had a chance to be that child again for a few fleeting days and I think to myself that the power of the imagination is infinite and seeing it through a child’s eye is truly magical – a fairy tale of dreamy delights.