- Final Report
Bestival 2018 has unfortunately finished. We’ve compiled a list of observations on the festival itself in a handy report for you all to read in preparation for future iterations, meanwhile you can find more music focused articles from the festival on the main site.
Eco-Bond cleans up
One thing that really winds me up is when you have to spend half your time walking around a festival watching the ground, as you navigate a minefield of trash and leftover food. Lovebox this year in London was a major culprit with more visible rubbish on the floor than there was mud on the ground.
So you can imagine my surprise when on first entry into Bestival we were offered two massive recyclable sacks for either general waste or recyclable materials with a pledge, bring a sack back full and receive £10 from our ticket price back in cash. This scheme seemed to be adopted with a passion as you walked through the campsite to see sacks tied to tents, gradually filling over the weekend. As we entered the festival on the final day we could see a queue of people with multiple sacks in hand ready to claim their reward. Some people took irritation to the fact they had to pay the £10 as an initial part of their ticket, but of course, we shouldn’t have to be paid to be tidy, so if they were looking after the environment in the first place at events then it shouldn’t be an issue. It’s certainly a step in the right direction, many festivals, especially Reading could take note.
When it came to inside the festival itself, there were big blue bins as far as the eye could see, you couldn’t walk more than 5 metres before there were at least two bins waiting to collect food and rubbish. Thankfully, they didn’t stick out or glare, and stayed to the side of arenas and tents meaning they were completely unobtrusive, yet easily accessible.
I’m shocked that I found myself leaving a festival excited to write about literal rubbish, but it needs to be said. Bestival and Eco-bond have taken huge leaps in helping change our trash and festival culture. So kudos! let’s hope this is only the beginning of a major initiative.
Food, Delicious Food
Another thing I don’t find myself talking about much at festivals is the food on offer. I’ve been to many festivals over the years and quite a few advertise great culinary experiences, 90% of the time this equates to the same burger and pizza vans over and over again. The worst being at Reading where food poisoning was practically on the menu.
Bestival though delivered one of the best food experiences I’ve experienced at any event. You’d have been a fool not to go to The Feast Collective tent behind Lulworth Castle which featured a range of boutique dishes offering large portions and delightfully different food options. All at affordable prices.
Majority of the dishes were served between £5 - £8 and the portion sizes reflected that. This includes anything from Duck to Venison, plus Pheasant all the way to Shrimp. Notable food vendors we enjoyed over the weekend included Crispy Duck Rotisserie with their mouthwatering Duck Wings and Duck fat fried chips, as well as Shrimpy with the finest Shrimp we’ve tasted. Both options are a rarity to enjoy in everyday life so made the festival experience even more special.
All the blame for this can’t be placed squarely at Bestival’s feet but I was definitely left unimpressed by an assortment of schedule based mishaps from across the weekend. Let’s start with Thursday, despite being unable to attend the day due to a broken down vehicle we were still disappointed to see the fantastic Jorja Smith’s headline slot placed at 1 am? One of Britains best upcoming R&B songstresses placed practically out of view. This, when some days were missing a big act to really lift the weekend. She really could have been utilised better elsewhere. Perhaps in the slot meant to have been filled by the ever unreliable Stefflon Don? Known for lateness and absence she certainly didn’t disappoint this weekend after failing to arrive on Saturday due to apparent traffic. It’s a shame that one of the medias most hyped new female MC’s couldn’t have found time to reschedule, even a small appearance on a lower capacity area would have been sufficient.
Throughout the weekend there was also strange mishaps with the scheduling, most notably on Friday in the Big Top when Not3s did a meagre 15 minute set after being late, people who then when later to see Mabel had found the schedule pushed back by nearly a whole hour, with little notification, only by manually checking the Woov app would have any festival goers been able to check.
Is Anyone There?
Partly down to scheduling, partly down to weather but also due to what seemed a very disappointing amount of tickets sold the festival felt at times, empty. The first half of each day, up to about 5pm felt quiet, especially on the Castle Stage (Bestival’s main stage) where most people would be finding shade rather than watching the acts in the blistering heat. It doesn’t help though when the line up didn’t feature any household names until around the 6-7pm mark each evening.
Headliners also suffered, notably London Grammar in which we noticed as the set progressed people walking away and talking, despite a stellar performance, their lo-fi style of music wasn’t suited to capturing a large crowd. On Sunday, a notably late M.I.A took the course of a self-indulgent set, the hits didn’t come to later on and subsequently, she also lost crowd members, she, however, focused her attention on the middle of the crowd which formed a large congregation as she launched herself onto the barrier. We even managed to walk up to the front of the stage, a mere 5 minutes before she came on.
Family Environment, Spacious and mostly friendly
The reduced amount of people did have some positives, it just meant there was plenty of space for everyone who did attend, and those that did were the friendliest and most welcoming group of festival attendees I’ve ever seen (sorry Glastonbury!). Not a single person was missing a smile on there face, most clad out in fancy dress or glitter, there was drunk singalongs, painful karaoke and even laughing yoga!
Everyone we spoke to was upbeat and enjoying there time at Bestival, a noticeable lack of violence and quick moving queues was definitely a bonus. Food traders were also notably happy and providing excellent customer service throughout the weekend. Security on the other hand at times bordered on rude and they were far too snappy. Understandably tensions are high in recent years but professionalism should still be kept throughout the weekend. This was something even fellow festival goers mentioned to us, notably a few isolated incidents of confiscating wrong items and barking orders at confused attendees.
Finally, some excellent sets still shone through...
Despite some of this criticism, we still experienced one of our overall favourite festival experiences to date, toilets were well maintained and post 6pm each evening the sets were stellar. An eclectic mix of headliners meant there was truly something for everyone and we absolutely fell in love with some fantastic music over the weekend.
Highlights included a jaw-dropping vocal display from London Grammar, a beautiful sunset performance from First Aid Kit, Mabel truly is a massive popstar in the making. Plan B is back and better than ever, oh and MIA really knows how to rile up a crowd. So thanks for having us Bestival, lets hope next year can build on the few issues present whilst continuing to wow with some fantastic musicians.