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Bestival 2015 – The Summer Of Love

By Daniel Bayfield

Posted: 11th February 2015 16:55

Bestival returns for another instalment of music and madness, and this year’s event looks set to be the best one yet. Winning multiple awards since its first inception in 2004, and continuing to do so to the present day, it is widely acknowledged as one of the finest choices in the somewhat crowded UK festival scene.  With so many to choose from, every gathering of like-minded souls needs something special to make it stand out from the rest.  Bestival has achieved this by establishing a reputation as the ultimate fancy dress party.  Revellers can don costumes at any point over the four day event, but it is strongly encouraged that everybody gets into the collective spirit of fun and expression on the Saturday night when a pre-determined theme is used as the inspiration for all sorts of weird and wonderful attire.  The theme this year is ‘The Summer of Love’.

“Bananas Not Guns”

As with all fancy dress, the interpretation of the theme is down to the individual.  The original Summer of Love was a massive hippy gathering of 1967 in San Francisco, where people came together to question the established norms of society and celebrate being alive through music, love and discussion of new ideas.  Whether you use that as a starting point, or else decide to take it in a completely different direction, there is sure to be feast for the eyes and a truly carnivalesque atmosphere.  For anyone who has ever put on a mask or a costume before, it is a widely held notion that this allows people to express themselves in a way that they are not used to, or to outwardly become some aspect of themselves that has been internalised.  It is a way to step away from the everyday confines of having to please everybody else (your boss, teachers, parents, partner) and truly be free of social confines, even if only for one night.  For those without a dressing up box to raid at home, or who forget to bring more than just one pair of jeans and a t shirt, there’s even a Dressing Up Tent on site

Bestival organiser Rob Da Bank (also a BBC Radio DJ and an ambassador of left field dance and electronica) has said he wants this year to be “…a salute to the original muses; music, freedom, peace, love and euphoria…a positive reaction to all the bad news going on in the world….a big family of 50,000 people coming together to listen to music, party and spread love…just for the weekend…to feel the unparalleled pleasures of dancing shoulder to shoulder with wonderful strangers and loving every second…it’s about positivity, peace and love, and bananas not guns.”  Wise words indeed.

The Clue Is In The Name

Had this event been titled ‘Worstival’ it would have been grossly underselling itself and likely wouldn’t have survived past its first decade.  Luckily it was christened Bestival, and has consistently more than exceeded expectations to deserve such a moniker.  This year, its 12th so far, takes place 10 – 13 September in its usual setting amongst the natural beauty of Robin Hall Country Park on the Isle of Wight.  This may seem a little late in the season but is considered a saviour and relief to the festival going masses, allowing those with enough energy, and funds, left at the end of summer to round the party off in style.

What really makes this gathering special though is its vision to see beyond just the hedonistic party vibe.  It retains a refreshing non-corporate feel and continues to innovate with its diverse and engaging stalls and programme.  Past years have seen such wonders as the ‘Breastival’; a safe private area where breast feeding mums can go and do what comes naturally, without fear of reproach.  There’s been an inflatable church performing wedding ceremonies, a roller disco, Bollywood cocktail bar, a Science Tent with interactive demo’s, even a fake beach.  The Amphitheatre turns into a night time cinema showing cult classics, documentaries, or films accompanied by a live score.  The Magic Meadow has held no-blinking staring competitions, and speedy haircut races between lightning quick barbers (probably best not to sign up for this unless you have a clear sober head).  If the weather holds out, you might like to visit the record shop which is made entirely out of cardboard, and sells vinyl from Rob Da bank’s own label, or perhaps take your recycling to one of the areas dedicated to reducing the rubbish, and exchange it for a free cup of tea.  For those who wish to expand their minds without the use of drugs, the Bestiversity holds talks on social issues and has lectures from representatives of Oxfam, Water Aid and the British Red Cross amongst others.  The organisers support local and youth charities, as well as taking a conscientious approach to their environmental impact.  There are schemes which encourage lift shares, arriving by bicycle, and even one for swimming to the site whilst raising money for charity.  Not many festivals offer that as a way of entry.  Participants will even be awarded with a medal in a ceremony held on the main stage.

2010 saw Bestival break the record for the most people in fancy dress in one place, with 55,000 crazy amazing people involved. Last year they made the world’s largest disco ball which was over 10m in diameter.  Who knows what new heights will be achieved this year?  And of course there’s the music.  The main aim is to book acts that will get the hips shaking and feet moving.  Dance and Electronica may feature heavily, but acts to have also graced the Bestival stages previously have ranged from resident Reggae mad-man Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, 18 legged notorious menaces the Wu-Tang Clan, eclectic gypsy punks Gogol Bordello and legends of their genres such as Amy Winehouse, The Beastie Boys, Stevie Wonder and My Bloody Valentine.  Once this year’s acts are announced we are sure they won’t disappoint.

Tickets for Bestival’s ‘Summer of Love’ go on sale at 10am GMT on 12 February, when the first wave of acts will also be announced.

 

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