Camp Bestival review: camping tips and the top activities not to miss
Everything you need to know about Camp Bestival including how to get there, the top activities for every age from newborn to teen, and how to get money off your tickets…
In a nutshell:
Camp Bestival is the award-winning annual family festival curated by Josie and Rob Da Bank, set in the beautiful grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset and offering 4 days jam packed with great music, performances and activities for all ages.
What age group/who is it best for?
There is something for everyone! The first time we attended two years ago my youngest had only turned 2 months old and my girls were 2 and 4 and we all had a great time. There is lots for young children to do and also an area with activities and music just for teenagers. Of course there is lots to keep the parents occupied too!
When to go:
Camp Bestival is held every July (from a Thurs to Mon) during the summer holidays, so it is the perfect festival to attend with the kids.
As we don’t have a car, we travelled by train from London Waterloo to Wareham Station which took just over 2 hours. We then got a minicab from the station to Lulworth Castle (this cost £12 and took about 15-20mins). There are many available from here and also nearby Wool station with a taxi rank at the festival for return journeys when needed.
If travelling by car there are also several large car parks (£20 for weekend pass in advance) and a campervan park (£90) available at the festival.
Where to stay/accommodation:
Under canvas! There is such a choice for camping at Camp Bestival from basic ‘put your tent wherever you can’, bringing your campervan to the Camping Plus reserved camping plot, to VIP/boutique camping, yurts and tipis.
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We stayed at the fantastic Pitch Village on site, where a package includes a pre-pitched tent, sleeping bags and air mattresses along with tea and coffee available 24hr, valuables storage, phone charging, showers, private toilets and a Freshen Up cabin with hairdryers, straighteners and mirrors as well as customer reception and friendly staff 24/7, and security too!
Pitch Village is brilliant if you crave a few home comforts and don’t want to lug your tent with you then attempt putting it up with little ones running around, although it costs around £100 per person extra on top of the festival ticket price.
If camping is not for you, there is a great range of local B&Bs, guest houses and hotels in and around Wareham to suit all budgets. You can book accommodation and ticket packages via www.festicket.com or search hotels near Camp Bestival via www.laterooms.com.
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Prices vary depending on the type of camping you choose (all camping tickets are from Thursday-Monday). Day tickets are also available (and do not include camping). It is always best to book online in advance for the best deals.
Early bird ticket prices for 27- 30 July 2017:
- Adult Weekend Ticket - £175
- Student Weekend Ticket - £165
- Age 13 to 17 Weekend Ticket - £105
- Age 10 to 12 Weekend Ticket - £80
- Age 5 to 9 Weekend Ticket - £30
- Age 4 & under Weekend Ticket - £10
- Babes In Arms (1 & Under) - FREE (but ticket required)
Car Parking - £20 in advance
Campervan Ticket (Field A) - £90
Caravan / Trailer Tent Ticket (Field A) - £100
Festival Programme Pack - £10
Early bird day ticket prices
- Adult Day Ticket - £55
- Student Day Ticket - £49.50
- Age 13 to 17 Day Ticket - £33
- Age 10 to 12 Day Ticket - £22
- Age 5 to 9 Day Ticket - £11
- Age 4 & under Day Ticket - £5.50
- Babes In Arms (1 & Under) - FREE (but ticket required)
Day Car Parking - £10 in advance
Camping Plus plots cost £145 (max of 2 adults and 4 children per plot)
What’s on offer in the area?
Dorset is a fantastic county with many areas of natural beauty including the stunning Jurassic Coast with lots to see and do.
If you wanted to incorporate your visit to Camp Bestival with a summer holiday in the area a visit to the gorgeous Lulworth Cove is a must! Chesil Beach and Studland Bay are also great beaches to visit (although be wary that the latter, although a popular family beach also has a famous nudist section!)
There are also lots of other attractions to keep children entertained such as Monkey World, Corfe Castle, Adventure Land and The Dinosaur Museum to name a few! For more inspiration you can visit www.visit-dorset.com.
What to watch out for:
As it is a festival it can obviously get really crowded and there is always a chance of someone getting lost, so make sure you are prepared.
You can pick up wrist bands at the entrance that both your little ones and you wear in case someone gets lost, they take down your details and write your contact number on each band.
With older children, set up a rendezvous point in case you split up or tell them to find a Camp Bestival Steward to call you. With younger ones tell them to stay where they are (when they find they are lost) so you can retrace your steps to find them.
The festival toilets/change facilities can get a bit grim towards the end of the weekend, so make sure you have extra loo roll, wipes, nappies handy!
Bring plenty of snacks and drinks/water for little ones as prices on site can be expensive.
Also some of the activities for children get very popular, some can be booked in advance at the festival others are first come first served, but are held at several times during each day. Plan what you and your children would like to do before/or at the start of the festival and get in there early to avoid disappointment.
A tough all-terrain pushchair is handy too as there are lots of varying surfaces to manoeuvre over or a trolley (which are very popular!) to cart your little ones around in. They can even sleep in them if they need a nap and hold up to 3-4 children (although you may get a bit of arm ache if it’s used to full capacity!). There is also a competition for the best decorated trolleys (they always look so amazing and comfy!).
Top 3 things to do with newborns:
Although there is nothing specific for newborns, there are great activities new mums can do with their little ones.
1. The NCT Baby Change Area is a peaceful nook where you can change or feed your little one, have a chat to one of the staff or other mums or just take time out from the festival with your baby. They also have toys/colouring for siblings to do while you are there.
2. Yoga at the Yoga Shala in the Slow Motion Area offers pregnancy yoga and family yoga, among other classes. You are welcome to take your little ones along to these sessions as you practice.
3. Relax in the Pukka Tea tent on one of their comfy sofas or swing chairs with a cup of one of their many delicious caffeine-free teas (perfect for when your newborn is sleeping as it is a very tranquil tent) There are activities for older siblings to do while you take time out.
Top 3 things to do with babies/toddlers 1-5 years:
1. For under 5’s there is a big soft play tent to keep them entertained as well as fun regular workshops being run daily for them too.
2. Watching the brilliant Aliens Love Underpants on stage in the Big Top Tent was a must.
3. Mr Tumble AND the Clangers on the Castle Stage went down a treat (with the parents too!)
Top 3 things to do with children aged 6-12 years:
1. Let them get immersed in the festivals theme by creating their own cool costume. This year’s theme was Space. (Although it’s a great chance for the whole family to get involved!)
2. Visiting Mission Control to learn about all things Space, with fantastic demos from the Science Museum, great workshops with Okido Magazine, becoming a Cosmic Master Builder at the Lego Brickies Space Academy and so much more to fascinate and expand young minds.
3. The National Trust 50 Things Meadow is a great place to get up close to nature and have fun! May it be climbing trees, wild crafty activities, or bug hunting there are lots of things to discover and do.
Top 3 things to do with teens:
1. The Den is a teen-only hang out for 13-17 year olds offering creative writing workshops, inspirational talks, live music, craft workshops where they can make edible face masks, festival headdresses and more.
2. Rob Da Bank’s Music Club is perfect for budding musicians who can try their hand at beat boxing, DJing, break Ddncing and even guitar sessions. There is even a mini studio (The SongShack) where young artists can perform and record their own work or choose one of 22,000 songs, have it professionally mixed and emailed to their inbox.
3. The Penny Skateboard Skate Park and Free Sports Park is a great place to brush up on tricks or they can try their hand at something new, may it be parkour, bouldering, BMX or slacklining.
Activities and performances will vary year by year, but they are always fantastic!
Arriving at the Festival quite early on the Thursday, excited and ready to go! It was not too busy and some areas were still setting up and it gave us time to get ourselves unpacked and comfortable, find our bearings, explore and also the children got to go on rides such as the helter skelter and big wheel without hardly queuing (one of their favourite highlights!). They also got stuck in doing lots of the crafty activities they wanted too while it was chilled out!
One of our highlights was the First Choice Holiday Island which brought a little slice of an all-inclusive holiday abroad paradise to the middle of the Dorset countryside, to celebrate the best of summer music.
The kids loved playing with the sand on the specially-created beach (it was hard to tear them away from it) as we reclined on the deckchairs, among palm trees sampling a cheeky cocktail/mocktail from the island bar listening to DJs spin nostalgic summer tunes.
X Factor stars Reggie ‘n’ Bollie helped mark the occasion, getting the party started at the First Choice Holiday Island tent, whilst festival founder Rob Da Bank made a very special surprise appearance, performing an exclusive DJ set to close the weekend.
There was lots to keep little ones entertained as the specialist First Choice Stage Academy team taught children the moves to the latest summer hits, while the Kids’ Club team recreated the family fun of the Holiday Village resorts with face-painting and circus skills. There were also performances from The Widgets, the loveable Holiday Village Characters, and the chance for kids to get their hands on some fun Widgets T-shirts and water bottles (which came in very handy!).
Later in the evening there was the opportunity for parents to take part in some nostalgia karaoke (I held myself back!) and have a good ol’ dance, as well as taking in some surprise performances from the likes of the brilliant Rozalla who belted out her 90s hit Everybody’s Free (a personal highlight!)
As part of the partnership, First Choice invited the Great British public to share their favourite summer tracks for a chance to win family tickets to the festival, plus the opportunity to DJ over the weekend, celebrating the greatest summer tunes, battling it out in First Choice’s Summer Sessions DJ-off. The Winners played some awesome tunes that the whole family could enjoy and shake a tail feather too!
Another highlight was being able to share amazing music and performances with my children in a fun, friendly and laidback environment and seeing how much they were enjoying it!
We all had fun working out with Mr Motivator (he was brilliant!), Singing with Mr Tumble and listening in awe at the Royal Albert Hall Orchestra’s Space Symphony or shouting ‘Bogeys!’ with Dick & Dom.
Camp Bestival is an amazing festival experience for all the family that will have you wanting to come back for more!
Book tickets in advance to make the most of the discounted early bird ticket prices. (The same goes if you are opting to book accommodation locally rather than camping)
If you are not used to camping, or want to take the stress out of it with young children in tow a pre- pitched option such as Pitch Village is definitely worth the money (if your budget allows it!).
Be prepared for everything: Pack and pack again! Make sure you have all the essentials and more!
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