London Grammar headlining the main stage

Review: Bestival 2018

It’s that time of the year again, where “the most colourful show on earth” opened its gates on the beautiful Lulworth Estate, and it did not disappoint. From an amazing line-up and show-stopping performances to quirky attractions and delicious street food; this year’s Bestival had something for everyone!

What a scorcher of a weekend! Wanting to make the most of such great weather, we rocked up to the car park around midday on Thursday, ready to get the party started early. As someone who is NOT a seasoned camper, the only way to experience Bestival was in style, and we were lucky enough to bag a place on the VIP campsite next to backstage camping! Because I’m a total princess, I came fully equipped with a camp bed, wine glass, enough food to feed the five thousand and a tonne of glitter.

Then cue the Festaxi kindly transporting our ridiculous amount of luggage about two metres across the car park to our campsite, with me riding shotgun waving like the Queen. Granted we didn’t realise just how close we were to our campsite, otherwise we would have walked (maybe). As we entered, I was donned with about five different wristbands, making me feel suitably important and ready to explore what was on offer inside.

Three young girls dressed colourfully at Bestival 2018

It was such a beautiful weekend in terms of weather, but that didn’t make me feel so beautiful when it was almost unbearable inside the tent the minute the sun came up. However, there was plenty of shade and a lovely cool breeze inside the main arena, which only meant more time spent at the bars- not that I’m complaining (my wallet has a different opinion). There wasn’t as much variety on the drinks menu this year, namely, no rum and ginger beer, but the Lucky Cat bar was serving my favourite sparkling tipple: Freixenet, which was chilled and easy on the palate after an afternoon of warm fruit ciders.

This year’s Circus theme brought an array of weird and wonderful delights including old favourites such as HMS Bestival, the Ambient Forest and the Caravanserai. Despite my slight case of coulrophobia, I couldn’t help but get sucked in by The Caravan of Lost Souls, who put on a whole host of spectacular performances including fire-breathing, tightrope walking, aerial stunts and accordion music. The acts took place around the site and transported festival-goers into a parallel dimension, one which was slightly peculiar yet outstandingly mesmerising. A great way to celebrate 250 years of the circus!

It seems the artists didn’t shy away from this year’s theme either. Grace Jones gave a hauntingly good performance dressed as some sort of androgynous grim reaper; a look only she could pull off! She really kicked off the Saturday night circus in style before London Grammar took over with equally haunting vocals. I’ll admit this was a little slow for me, so I headed over to the Faithless DJ set before Agoria closed the night on a high, allowing me to have a little bit of a stomp before ordering a pizza and heading back to camp.

Saturday night on the whole was a little lacking in terms of line-up, and in my opinion was hard to follow after Friday night’s epic setlist. Mura Masa sufficiently warmed up the crowds, getting them geared up for a proper party as the sun went down from the much anticipated set from Mark Ronson and Diplo as Silk City. And boy did the crowd go wild. With a well-rounded, meaty set of just over an hour, we were presented with both old and new remixes including Kelis’ “Milkshake”, Dua Lipa’s “New Rules”, and of course, finishing with their new summer hit “only can get better”. This was only the duo’s second performance but they owned the Castle Stage and I’d love to see them return for another year.

A Dj plays in a the Caravanserai area
Batala the Brazilian drumming band entertain the Bestival crowd in the sunshine
Young girls takes a stroll around the Bestival site with a large red foam hand with the two fingered peace gesture

The grand finale really pulled out all the stops, and with Sunday’s line up guaranteed to impress, I really struggled to decide how to split my time. Firstly: Chaka Khan, what an absolute babe. Everyone embraced their inner goddess as we all belted out the words to “I’m every woman” before closing with “ain’t nobody”: banger central.

Despite being late, MIA burst onto the stage, instantly reviving all the day four survivors and really raising the volume – so much so she refused to continue her set until the crowd “got loud”. I was concerned at one point that the set would be cut short, and I hadn’t yet heard my favourite song, but of course everybody knew they wouldn’t leave that stage without closing on “paper planes”.

Sunday saw me do enough walking to cancel out all the calories I’d consumed at the Feast Collective, due to the conflicting schedules of both the Castle Stage and the Temple Stage. With a solid line up from about 6pm right through to the early hours, Temple was the unofficial closing party of Bestival 2018. CamelPhat, Solardo and Rudimental, followed by an outstanding fireworks display; I couldn’t have asked for much more to end my weekend on such a massive high!

The Idles playing the main stage at Bestival 2018
Chaka Khan plays the Bestival main stage.
The large Bestival crowd from the perspective of someone on stage

One thing I did do a lot of this year is eat. And I can’t possibly write a review of Bestival without making a shout out to The Feast Collective. There was an unbeatable range of traditional street food from around the world, and if I’d had more time and a bigger stomach, I probably would have tried them all (I certainly gave it a good go).  However, since I love my spicy foods, my first port of call was Makatcha for their Indonesian coconut chicken curry, which literally melted in the mouth and was the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.

And that was only my first course. I then proceeded to try, and by “try” I mean eat most of, my mate’s food which consisted of Thai buttermilk fried chicken with fresh chillies, Siracha mayo and jasmine rice. It absolutely blew my head off, but anyone who knows me knows I’m a fried chicken fiend and I couldn’t stop myself from devouring the whole lot.

My one other food highlight of the weekend was Mooney’s halloumi fries. Oh. My. Mooney. These were insanely good. I finally got my own portion after spending the whole weekend with food envy every time I bumped into someone with them. Who doesn’t like deep fried cheese!?

All in all, I was ready to run away with the circus by the end of the weekend. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, such a diverse line up, talented performers and colourful cuisine. I would also like to say a big thank you to the staff this year, especially those in the festival hospital; where they tended to my friend’s grazed knee with only so much as a smirk at his hyperbolic self-diagnosis of gangrene. Perhaps next year’s theme could be pirates? Bring on Bestival 2019.

Temple Island at night with Fireworks going off overhead.
Lulworth Castle at night with Fireworks going off overhead.
HMS Bestival at night with Fireworks going off overhead.

Written by Sarah Butcher
Photos are PR provided

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