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Bestival 2012 Review | FESTIVALPHOTO

Bestival 2012 Review



BEAST-ival BEST-ival!

Welcomed back again by the Bestival guys, this was my 5th year of covering and attending the festival. As always one of my most looked forward to ventures of the year!
Bestival was set up by Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank and his partner Josie in 2004, making 2012 its 9th year, and its second year in the large UK festival category.
It is a four-day music festival held every year in late summer, at the Robin Hill country park on the Isle of Wight. It has become one of the most respected festival weekends on the UK calendar, winning best festival both in the medium and large categories.
This year selling out in advance of the event, and hosting to a juicy 50,000 capacity!
Every year Bestival conjures up a new theme so not only is the décor around the festival affected by this theme but it is also the foundation for fancy dress to which the Saturday is always dedicated.
This year the theme was Wildlife making it a great BEAST-ival.

The festival is a 4 day event, and the site opens to the punters on the Thursday, and with most previous years it has been relatively easy going on the first day… Until this year when we were told a whopping 90% of the full 50,000 capacity had turned up by Thursday evening! This had both a positive and negative effect. On the up side it made the Thursday feel like the festival had already got in to full swing, and at times the main area was more like a Saturday than the first day. Yet on the downside there wasn’t that much happening on the first day it meant that, as nearly full capacity were lurking around looking for things to do, the few stages open were heaving with people that many couldn’t even get close to see the acts.

For most of 2012’s summer we have seen festivals drowned in heavy rain and muddy fields, and I’m sure the Isle of Wight was a little concerned after the trouble they had with IOW festival whether Bestival would run smoothly… But luckily and beautifully the heavens slowly cleared the skies on the lead up to the event, and the entire weekend remained hot and dry! Some could even argue that it was some of the best weather we’ve seen the whole summer. This of course added to Bestival’s upbeat vibe.

I always find at Bestival that the focus isn’t just on the incredible music lineup but they also put in a lot of effort in to keeping people occupied and comfortable. There are many things to do and see away from the stages that keep the crowds moving and busy at all areas of the site.
For example not only are there additional stages planted spaciously around the campsite area, but the amount of work put in to décor is amazing, then you have things like the hidden forest which contains beautiful scenery, food stalls, a bar, a little live jukebox (which by the way was awesome), and even a random Foosball table! There are also chillout areas where you can have a massage, get involved in relaxation workshops, hot tubs and saunas.
Other workshops include Rob da Banks workshop tent where you could learn basics of various instruments or dances etc. And a whole lot more…

I just quickly have to mention the food. This festival always amazes me with the absolutely massive selection of tasty eats on offer.
Every day you have to try something different and it can vary from tiny vegetarian dishes, to huge monster meat dishes. There is something for everyone, and 99% of the time it’s pretty damn good.

At Bestival they’re always bringing in a very eclectic and heavy weight line-up this year there was music from the likes of Stevie Wonder, De La Soul, New Order, Florence and the Machine, Orbital, Sigur Ros, Justice, The xx, Hot Chip, Friendly Fires, The Horrors, Major Lazer, Adam Ant, Little Dragon, Grimes, Gallows, Soulwax, Death in Vegas… and much much more.

Sadly there were a couple of things this year that seemed different to previous years and in my opinion had a slightly negative effect.
Firstly the main stage area seemed a lot busier than previous years and at times it was impossible to get from front to back and vice versa. There were crowds of people pushing and shoving, some falling over, others spilling drinks on to others, and due to this some people were getting very aggressive that people were having to push to escape.
I think it might be useful for Bestival to think of having a second main stage so that they can split the main acts up, and therefore split the crowd making things less compact and more comfortable.
The reason I say this is because added to the overcrowding around the main stage area was the fact that the Big Top just isn’t big enough. A lot of the time the tent was overflowing and people just couldn’t get in or out, and sadly there were no outside speakers or large enough screens for people to enjoy the act without having to deal with the crowds.
Secondly, and I’m sure this is the same for any large and popular growing festival, there was a lot of unfriendly characters lurking around. Of course this festival is still very chilled, and very safe, but in comparison to previous years I witnessed a couple of large fights, saw a lot of vandalism on the final night, and was told plenty of tent robbery stories. It’s difficult to really conclude why this might be the case this year. It could be that I just witnessed more than previous years, it might be due to the lineup affecting who buys tickets, or it may just be the case that the festival is constantly growing and now attracting a more mainstream crowd.

I’ve heard some people saying that Bestival is an expensive affair. Though if you are a festival regular then you will know that it’s actually about right.
After all it’s 4 days of immense fun, with lots to do and see!
Compare the prices of food and drink to other UK festivals and it is well on par with them. Food costing between £5-£12 for a main depending on stall and what you order, and alcoholic beverages priced at I think £3.50-£9 depending on if it’s a tinny, draught, or shots. Hey I live in London and sometimes pay £4 for a shitty pint.
The one thing I must say is Bestival should work more closely with the Isle of Wight to try and stop them from ridiculously over charging for the ferry. Also to make the travel work more smoothly for the punters because every year there are stories of people having to wait hours and hours to get on one. And that’s in either direction.

As with every year Bestival still holds a piece of my heart and it is a festival that I would recommend to anyone both familiar with festivals and first timers!
For a large festival that is now entering a mainstream popularity it remains a boutique festival, with very eclectic sounds and tastes, an amazing attitude, ethos and vibe.

2012; great music, great weather, good times… Was definitely a hard one to beat!

Many thanks to Bestival for always making the end of the season a good one, and of course big hugs to the guys and girls over at Get Involved who happily let me return year after year!

Looking forward to next year already for the 10 year Besty anniversary, and can’t wait to see what’s in store!?

For all your Bestival curiousities go to

Review written by Alan Thomas.

Writer: Alan Thomas
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