A short while ago, before my 25th birthday I wrote a list of things I want to do before I turn 30. One of the things on this list, but never really thought that I would achieve, was to go to a music festival. There are lots of things that stress me out in everyday life that are even worse at festivals, like crowded places and a lack of hygiene. As someone that has always been on the outside, looking at photos on the internet I have always been slightly horrified at the mud baths, rubbish and the horror stories about the toilets. This for me was the biggest fear that I would have to overcome in order to even get to a festival!
Last Wednesday the opportunity came about to go to Bestival and review it for UK Bloggers withUK Bloggers | Top 5 tips for feeling fabulous at Bestival – UK Bloggers and LISTERINE® Stay White, with the festival starting the next day!! Spontaneity isn’t one of my strong points, so I asked Nick what he thought and he immediately said yes! A mad 24 hours of planning and prepping ensued, which gave me little time to stress about anything else.
Bestival is an award winning 4 day boutique music festival set at Robin Hill – a beautiful leafy country park (a veritable Garden of Eden!) near Downend and Newport in the heart of the Isle of Wight. It was curated by BBC Radio 1 leftfield DJ Rob Da Bank and his creative director wife Josie.
We travelled down to Portsmouth to catch the ferry across to the Isle of White on the Friday evening due to work commitments. The line-up looked amazing with several acts that we each wanted to see, from rock to grime. After 4 hours of traveling we arrived with excitement in the air and the distant sound of music and thousands of people cheering. By the time we collected our tickets night time had fallen and all we could see was a sea of twinkling lights in the distance.
By this point, I just wanted to get in and go and listen to some music. Setting up our tent was a lot harder in the dark, but somehow we managed to find somewhere not too far away and make our home for the next few nights. We headed straight out towards the main stage to see the Friday night headliners, Outkast, but before their set started, on the same stage, was Radio 1 DJ Toddla T. I must admit, I didn’t even notice anyone was on the stage at first! I was so in awe of everything and couldn’t quite believe that we were there!
It wasn’t long before Outkast came out on stage and at this point was by far the biggest crowd of people that I have ever seen, and we were only about half way through the pack! The atmosphere was like nothing I have ever experienced, and something I have difficulty putting to put into words. The main stage had 2 massive screens so even though we were far back, we could see everything. I love Outkast so had a very sore throat after screaming, shouting and singing all the words!
They played a number of the classics, as well as some we had never heard before. They definitely knew how to keep the crowd entertained and as soon as Andree 3000 shouted “1..2..3..4..” for the start of Hay Ya the place went absolutely mental, I jumped up and down on the spot for 3 solid minutes!
We then headed off to the BBC Introducing tent to catch Danny Howard’s set. The place was banging.
We were so tired after all the traveling and by this point it was nearly 3am. We headed off for a late night burrito and slumped in out tents.
I am glad we arrived after dark because the whole festival looked truly magical.
After a very, very poor night’s sleep we woke up in the morning and Nick cooked me a bacon buttie!
When we walked back the night before we had to almost wade through piles and piles of litter where everyone had just chucked their rubbish on the floor. By the time we left the tent again the majority had been cleared away by a fantastic team of people who must have worked through the night. The first time that I saw the campsite by daylight and I was shocked at just how vast it was! And this was just one of many!
We went out to explore the festival ground the next day and wanted to hunt down the Listerine Total White tent. They kindly organised our tickets for us and I heard a rumour that they had glitter face paints! On top of that they had endless amounts of Listerine, perfect to feel refreshed during festival life!
I got my face painted pink, blue and covered in bling! I loved it!
We noticed a very white theme with white trilbies and ponchos, little did we know this was all in aid of an awesome paint party later on in the day with Sigma DJ’ing! Powdered paint was thrown around everywhere, a great atmosphere. Nothing was white for very long, but at least everyone had fresh breath!
On Saturday we watched a band that I really love, Skindred. They are an awesome band from Wales that mixes heavy metal, alternative rock, reggae and punk. I have seen them once before on a tiny stage and was excited to see them here. They were on really early in the day on the main stage and we got to the front row! Benji really knows how to work the crowd
There weren’t many acts on that we had interest in seeing in the afternoon so we made the most of wandering around and exploring. There was lots of food stands, a blow up church for wedding ceremonies and a giant disco ball. They were attempting to break a world record for the biggest disco ball and they succeeded! On the last night it rose up into the air and looked amazing!
Our evening of music started off with The Kooks in the big top. It was absolutely rammed and got a bit crushy after a while, so we didn’t stay for the whole set sadly.
The evening was what Nick had been really looking forward to. The Red Bull stage was full of acts he knew and loved, specifically Jme who is probably his favourite artist, who he’s been a fan of for over 8 years, but never had an opportunity to see. He was performing with his brother Skepta and before him was Preditah, Riko Dan and Slimzy so that was our evening sorted. The stage was a lot smaller than the main stage, but I swear there were just as many people. We got near the middle next to 2 massive pillars that bellowed out flames every time the beat dropped. The crowd were mental and really going for it, we ended up moving back a bit because the heat from the flames combined with dancing and so many people was a bit much! It was an awesome evening of music, seeing Nick’s face when Jme came out had to be the highlight of my entire weekend!
The only downside of the festival was some of the people there and their complete lack of respect for anyone else. I nearly got knocked to the ground a few times with people pushing and shoving their way through the crowds. I get that it is hard to move in a crowd, but shoving that hard really isn’t necessary! At night when we actually wanted to get some sleep there was a constant folly of people shouting at the top of their voices “HAS ANYONE GOT ANY DRUGS FOR SALE”. On top of that some of the people in one of the tents near us brought their own music… who brings their own music to a festival anyway? There is also this thing at festivals where people walk around shouting “ALAN…ALAN…ALAN…AL…ALAN” in the style of the preire dog from that TV show where they make it look like animals are talking. It was funny the first few times but at 5am when I literally just drifted off to sleep, it wasn’t anymore.
We were really disappointed that Busta Rhymes cancelled his Sunday performance but by this point we were so devastatingly exhausted from lack of sleep and so, so much walking, dancing and having fun that we decided to call it a day and head home. After we packed up our tent we saw the true lack of respect that some of our camping neighbours had for their surroundings!
(My idea of hell)
All in all it was an amazing weekend, and as my first ever experience of a festival I can safely say that I would definitely go to one again. The atmosphere on the whole was spectacular, especially being in a crowd of people who were all having a great time and loving the music. I overcame so many of my worst fears to be there and I loved it all (apart from the toilets!)