Festival Preview: Bestival 2006

01 August 2006

If you’re one of those music lovers who thinks that this summer’s lack ofmud, smelly hippies, ill-advised facial hair and wizard hats made out ofhedges is no great loss to the festival circuit, get ready to polish yoursequins and fluff up your feather boa and head to Bestival, the festivalthat put the camp back into campsite.

Who says that glamour and festivals can’t mix? Certainly not the Bestivalorganisers.
For the third year running, they have annexed a field of theotherwise 1950s timewarp known as the Isle of Wight to bring you a ‘threeday boutique music festival’ featuring headliners Scissor Sisters, PetShop Boys and Gogol Bordello, more circus performers than you can shake a glowstik at andluxurious camping in all senses of the word.

Curated by Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank (keeping it in the family withhelp from Mrs da Bank), previous Besitvals have seen no lesser talents thanBasement Jaxx, Fatboy Slim, Mylo, 2manydjs,The Go! Team and Soulwax take to its stages.

You’ll notice adefinite lack of black-clad geetar-waving shoegazers in that list: where AllTomorrow’s Parties seems to revel in forcing its attendees into grim chaletsin the middle of winter to prove their indier-than-thou credentials,Bestival is bright, breezy and out to dance.

But it’s not all about the musical delights the other attractions onoffer ensure that Bestival is to high camp what Glastonbury is to the spiritof flower power. For a start, camping here is whole different experience toyour Vs and Readings, with a Boutique Campsite where (for a price,admittedly) you can live in five star luxury by hiring a Bohemian Bivouac,Tipi or Yurt, lounge glamorously around a Beach Hut village and cafcomplete with its own real beach and deck chairs, or take a bunk in BusBed a converted double-decker bus.

Choose any of these options and you can hangup your Stetson, sit back and sip Chardonnay while the sun shines off yourCath Kidson wellies. Unsurprisingly, most are already sold out for this yearbut wander as close as you’re allowed and have a peek at what you couldenjoy next year.

Watch out for the Laundrettas, a 10 strong troupe of housewives ready to pander to your every need.

Assuming you feel the need to leave your safety net of luxury and ventureforth into the fray, you’ll find plenty of delights to please even the mostdemanding diva. En route to the main arena, watch out for the Laundrettas a 10 strong troupe of housewives ready to pander to your every need. Get ridof any residual real-world stress in their mobile Pampour Parlour (sic),gossip with the lovely ladies in the Laundromat of Love and afterwards, lookfor an Insecurity Guard to hug. You know it makes sense.

Last year Bestival hosted the world’s biggest fancy dress party (10,000people dressed as – oh, you guessed – cowboys and Indians) and the fun isset to carry on. There’s a 24 hour Twilight Field in case you get musicalhall cravings in the middle of the night, and Nelly the Elephant a life-size steel elephant ridden by a singer. There’s the Miniscule ofSound, officially the World’s Smallest Nightclub, matadors, cowboys,pyromanics – what more do you want? Music? Hey, Bestival has got that too.

There’s the Miniscule ofSound, officially the World’s Smallest Nightclub…

This year’s line-up promises playful gypsy punks Gogol Bordello onFriday night, high camp troubadours Pet Shop Boys on Saturday andNew York pretenders to the Vaudevillian pop crown Scissor Sisterson Sunday (try saying that while doing a Jonathan Ross impersonation).

Inbetween, you’ll find Mystery Jets, Sunshine Underground,Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly!, Nathan Fake, The LongBlondes, DJ Yoda, Shitdisco,M Craft, iLiKETRAiNS, Erol Aklan, The Pipettes, Good Shoes, Jim Noir,Devandra Banhart, Kid Creole & The Coconuts and somebird called Lily Allen (who ouresteemed Editor-in-Chief assures me is worth a look if you can drag yourselfaway from the Bollywood Bar or the Blue Pavilion).

There’s 24-hour, non-stop,ambient and electronica and even a solar powered cinema to keep you out oftrouble. If all of that still can’t please you, there’s plenty to exploreelsewhere on the island, from various reminders of Jimi Hendrix‘slegendary performance in 1970 to The Brading Experience, the world’sbest/worst tourist-attraction-cum-museum.

All sounds fantastic but, I hear you shout, how are you going to getthere? It’s half way to France and not on any routes Megabus advertise. On acruise ship, of course, or at least a Wightlink or Red Funnel ferry servicefrom Portsmouth or Southampton and when you land, shuttle buses will whiskyou to Robin Hill Country Park at the heart of the island. From London, youcan be there in a couple of hours, we’re reliably informed.

It’s fun, it’s funky, it’s not that far away and if you’re lucky, thesunshine will even hold out for the entire weekend. Give it a try, and tellthem sent you.

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