Music: Bestival 2011

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it was the Bestival of times, it was the Worstival of times.

This weekend I attended Bestival on the Isle of Wight – the last major festival of the season, but the first one for me this year. Bestival is known for being eccentric, lively and highly encouraging of fancy dress, as well as being up there with Reading and Glastonbury for a hosting big name acts. This year the headliners were Pendulum, The Cure and Bjork, and the festival was full of other stages and mini venues for a range of other performers, from hip hop to comedians. It is surprisingly difficult to see all the musicians you want to at a festival, but we managed to fit a good few in! See my separate post tomorrow for reviews on the bands I saw.

Bestival 2011

We didn’t get off to the best start. Ms J was running late and when she did turn up it turned out I was waiting for her at the wrong train station. This gave immediate cause for cocktails in a can (what else?!).

…G&T in a can for the ferry
Cosmo in a can for the train…
On the ferry out to the Isle of Wight

We arrived on Friday afternoon so we had to basically camp where we could find space. Turns out that the space we found was probably empty because of a) the ridiculous pilled-up morons next to us and b) the proximity to the stages. I’ve only done a few festivals before, but I’ve never seen camping areas so central to the actual performing areas. This for me was the biggest flaw to Bestival and a really poor bit of planning. Everyone knows that you get minimal sleep at a festival what with everyone being drunk and/or overexcited, but generally the camping areas are a 15 minute walk from the hub of everything. Bestival planners obviously wanted to cram as many people into one space as possible, and declined to let anyone know that DJs would be going until 4am – the only chance of sleeping would be the bass rocking you to sleep.

Just to prove how close our tent was to one of the stages – The Psychedelic Worm tent

Like all festivals, there was more than just music to keep you amused at Bestival. All kinds of weird installations were scattered around the venue, some completely pointless…

…others to just pretty up the place…

Ms J doing her best ‘I’m a star’ impression

…and, there were  the festival equivalent of street entertainers dotted around including a guy who could balance a load of stuff on his head…

That’s four glasses and an urn on his head!

…and the famous Bestival Saturday fancy dress parade. This year’s theme was Rock Star and Pop Divas:

We decided against the whole disposable bbq thing and roamed the site for the huge variety of food stalls available. Whatever you want you can get: from fish and chips to curry, to mexican and tapas. My favourite find was a bloody amazing cream tea on the top deck of a double decker bus (the same bus that took over an hour to serve us a bacon sandwich earlier in the morning, but cake can be very forgiving).

Check out that festival hair!

And then the rain hit.

This was bearable as wellies are obviously a festival necessity, but what we didn’t expect was our tent to leak in the middle of the night. I would approximate that it’s been 20 years since I last woke up wet in the night, so it wasn’t a welcome surprise when I realised the bottom half of my sleeping bag and pyjama bottoms were soaked through. Turns out our waterproof tent was no longer waterproof. We left pretty swiftly the next day (once we’d bought new ferry tickets to replace the ones that had disappeared/been lost/stolen/I have no idea where the hell they went).

So we definitely had our fair share of disasters with cake and Paloma Faith to soften the blow, but I don’t think I’ll be setting foot on the Isle of Wight again anytime soon!


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