Having washed away 5 days worth of mud and shaken off the copious amounts of booze from my blood stream, I am left feeling reflective about my festival infatuation. Some people would rather stick pins in their eyes than make a pilgrimage with the weight of a small child on their back to sit in a field and become feral. Having been to V festival, Field Day, Reading, Lattitude and Beach Break Live in the past, I approach that pilgrimage with sage and wizened acceptance - no one likes squatting in rancid portaloos or the dreaded compost long drops, nor do they like to queue for hours on end, or to pay £4.00 a pint. But bloody hell, it is worth it.
There's something quite brilliant about Bestival itself. There is no branding for a start - no well known beer has sponsored a tent; instead of the 'Carling' Stage, you have 'The Roller Disco' and the 'Wishing Tree'. Among its clientèle, there seems to be no-one intent on burning down your tent (circa Reading), no-one intent on starting a fight because they've had too many WKDs (circa V Fest). They have the most enjoyable aspects of chilled out festivals like Lattitude, namely the comedy tent and performances by the English National Ballet. Best of all they sell real tea with non UHT milk in the WI tent, that has the added benefit of funding the Isle of Wight's four WI factions for an entire year. All for the very reasonable price of 70p. It may sound mundane but the toilets being cleaned regularly was a real bonus. When I went to Beach Break, they were so revolting, there was often shit all over the walls. Lovely. Its simple things like that, that make you one step closer to feeling human when you've got the alcohol sweats and no way to shower them away.
Our next door neighbours in Red campsite this year were a group of 35 year old Londoners and a posse of 18 year-olds. The 18-year olds seemed to be tasting freedom for the first time, and by that I mean they thought it was really awesome to be able to sit in their own litter taking drugs without their parents there to tell them they looked ridiculous. There's nothing like the tent nearby getting raided by police to cure that though.The Londoners book their tickets blind every year because they hold Bestival in such high revere. One of the chaps met his wife to be at Bestival a few years ago and she is now 8 months pregnant with his first child. Perhaps that says it all really - at the risk of sounding like a hippy, there is a lot of love at Bestival. The atmosphere is nothing short of epic. I think this is helped in part by the fancy dress theme every year. The amount of effort in that department is incredible. My favourites were definitely the Peas (Grump-pea, hap-pea etc all with green swimming hats and green leotards on). If there is ever going to be a time for the adults of this nation to don a bizarre wig, glitter, leggings and false eyelashes this is it. Men included.
I cannot finish this without mentioning the line up. The variation and quality of music is phenomenal. Maybe this is because Rob and Josie da Bank have complete free reign over everything. My highlights were Joy Orbison, Pearson Sound, The Village People, Annie Mac presents, Beardyman, Ed Sherran, DJ Shadow, DJ Fresh, Danny Byrd, Crystal Fighters........! So many to choose from, you definitely get your moneys worth. You know everyone is loving it when their feet are blistered from all the welly wearing but they are still going for it hard and sweat is dripping from the roof.
So is Bestival worth the mammoth travelling? Yestival.