Each summer, families flock to the grounds of Lulworth Castle on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast for Camp Bestival - a festival created to blow big and tiny minds alike. Granted, the care-free days of pre-kid festivals probably looked a little different but you’ll still find quirky Glasto-esque areas, banging DJs and like-minded people; throw in 1000’s of pimped-up festival trollies choc-full of kids with eco-friendly face glitter and clip-on animal tails and you’ll get the picture.
Rudimental, Rag n Bone Man and Kool and the Gang were all part of this year’s eclectic line-up – along with death defying circus performers, Horrible History shows and wellbeing workshops to restore equilibrium. Families donned their finest sequined attire - for the Desert Island Disco fancy dress theme - and shimmied beneath a giant mirror ball, smashing the Guinness World Record for the largest disco dance.
Shall we spa?
At a festival? Oh yes. Camp Bestival offers spa-lovers and wellness-seekers – of all ages – Slow Motion: a whole area dedicated to restoring your mojo and wellbeing. And, let’s face it, if you’re brave enough to bring the kids to a festival, a little spa-time is the least you deserve. Choose from all-the-yoga classes - Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hatha - to breathwork with Stuart Sandeman, or plunge into an ice bath under the guidance of Certified Wim Hof instructor, Aodhnait Lombard.
Warm back up in the Water & Flame Wild Spa - complete with Scandi woodfired hot tubs - for optimal wallowing - a sauna, firepit and chill out area. Finish off toasting marshmallows around the campfire.
Festival-weary folk, with overhyped kids, will love the Sleep Retreat. Brainchild of Bestival organisers, Rob & Josie da Bank, this popular festival wellness area offers an escape from the festival madness. Expect sumptuously furnished yurts and teepees, offering much-needed meditation, yoga or literally just a place to lie down and take a nap.
Gong baths, fire ceremonies, shamanic drumming and crystal healing are all on the menu; book in advance for a choice of holistic, deep tissue, Thai, Aromatherapy or Indian Head massage, or a range of reflexology - all taking place in one of the nine tents. Natch.
How did it measure up?
With its own entrance, not far from the main stage, the Slow Motion area really does change the tempo. The crowds, and accompanying chaos, seems to evaporate as you wander into the woodland area beneath the sun dappled trees. The Sleep Retreat is an ingenious idea; the perfect antidote to a family fest.
Kids love it here, too. Mine got stuck in at the Orchestra of Objects, got elbow deep in mud pies in Dingly Dell and ran off the excess Haribo in the woodland park while parents lounged on the surrounding banks hugging coffee (or Gin).
We got our forest bathing fix with Tree ID walks with The Woodland Trust and refuelled with a berry smoothie at the Food in a Field truck.
At the main stage the kids showed off their best downward dog with Jaime of Cosmic Kids Yoga; I tried to block out flashbacks of lockdown home-schooling (shudder). For the hardy spa-goer there’s even Camp Bestival Boot Camp (yep, Bootcamp) in case you fancy a mid-festival HIIT sesh’, or lace up your trainers and join a nature run around Lulworth Estate with ‘Ginger Dave’ a UK Athletics Qualified Run Leader.
The beauty of Camp Bestival is there’s so much to entertain the kids, so parents can actually relax and soak up the atmosphere. And did we mention there’s a spa?
What about the food?
Oh the food… you’re truly spoilt for choice here: Indian and Pakistani street food, Indonesian curry, tacos, fire-pit toasties, fish & chips, handmade hot dogs, raclette cheese, veggie sushi – to name a few. We scoffed delicious wood-fired pizza and endless Churros dipped in molten chocolate, hydrating with plenty of ice-cold cider (in refillable cups – meaning minimal littering – smart move) and bright blue brain-freeze-inducing slushies for the kids. Having a campervan meant we could also pop back for hot dogs and endless pre-packed snacks.
Beyond Slow Motion, one area not to be missed is Caravanserai, a Glastonbury-esque mash-up of old caravans, abandoned vintage waltzers and 60s wallpaper. We danced to live music, sipped cocktails and generally hung-out and people-watched. If you get a kid-free evening pass – or they’re of the hardcore variety – hit the Bollywood tent for some moonlit raving.
Hire a campervan: call me a Princess, but this elevated our festival experience tenfold: fresh morning coffee brewed on the stove, heating/air con and a comfy bed – with duvet - plus you can sling the kids up in the pop-up roof bedroom. Everyone’s happy.
Ride the festival taxi: we watched smug families chauffeured from campsite to festival in the Bestival cab (aka golf buggy) – a godsend for tired legs of all ages. Note: you will get your steps up this weekend.
Retreat to Slow Motion: when the festival-lag kicks in – and it will – wander to Slow Motion; both you and your glitter-encrusted kids can decompress and steal a moment of calm.