The definitive guide to Camp Bestival for parents
In the second part of her guide, editor of Bambino Goodies and Camp Bestival regular, Lucy Davies, looks at the practicalities of camping with children at festivals
PART 2: STAY
Where should I pitch?
The site map will be up on the website about a week before the festival, so if you’re in Boutique Camping, the Campervan field, Tangerine Fields or Camping Plus, you’ll know exactly where you’re supposed to go. For everyone else in General Camping, the site is more or less your oyster. If you can, I would highly recommend arriving on Thursday (car parks open at 10am, campsites at midday) to secure the perfect spot, particularly if you’re camping with friends. Enter through the Yellow Gate, park up and choose your spot. The main sites are divided into Yellow and Purple zones, to help you navigate. Yellow is nearer the car parks, so you’ll have less distance to cart your camping gear, whereas Purple is nearer the arenas, so you’ll have less far to walk each day. Swings and roundabouts. Some of the Purple pitches are pretty close to the action which is worth bearing in mind if you’re trying to get an overtired toddler to sleep.
People coming without children (yes, they do exist) generally camp in Non-Family Camping which is right next to the Magic Meadow. If you’re going solo with kids and feel in need of some support, join the Camp Bestival (Official) Campers Group on Facebook for information, advice and help.
When you gotta go…
All the campsites have a plethora of toilets. As I said earlier, Camp Bestival’s toilets are super-clean and well-equipped, but this is a festival, so you should expect the odd, ‘Ugh, I’m not going in there, Mummy!’ There are child-sized compost toilets in the main arenas, cheerfully decorated, and many children love the novelty of scooping up a cup of sawdust. We always favour the compost loos over the Porta-loos, but if you really can’t face either, you have the option of purchasing a weekend wristband for Club Class Premium Toilets for £25 – actual flushing toilets with warm water, soap and towels that are cleaned after every use, plus a pamper lounge with hairdriers and straighteners. Children go free with wristband-wearing adults. If you’ve got a tiny person in nappies with you, you’re in luck, the NCT Baby Change tent is a lovely, shady spot for changing (and breastfeeding), with mats provided.
To clean or not to clean?
Many people make do with wet wipes and dry shampoo, but, chances are, if you’re there from Thu to Mon, you’re going to want to have a shower. Posh Wash are the providers and they have gas-powered hot shower cubicles on each of the campsites. Grab a number and have a coffee while you wait. My advice is to avoid peak times, such as the morning or kids’ bedtime, when the queues are often horrendous. I have a friend who just pops off for a shower at about 2pm and he never has to wait. For the very littlest members of the family, it may be worth taking a fold up Flexibath and heating water to ensure a trauma-free bedtime. Wet wipes are your friend at festivals – you can never have too many for sticky hands after buttery corn-on-the-cob, spillages, scrapes and post mud kitchen wipe downs, but do buy biodegradable ones (I like Kit & Kin and Beaming Baby) remember not to drop them into the compost loos.
Fed and watered
There are water points everywhere – we have a collapsible water dispenser with a tap that we use at camp and to refill water bottles. In terms of cooking, you can use camping stoves by your tent or BBQs in the fire lanes, so you can easily whip up a sausage sandwich and a cuppa when the need arises.
And so to bed
Sleeping at festivals can be tough, especially for hyper, excited children (and their hyper, excited grown-ups). My best advice is to abandon rules and routines for a few days, go with the flow and see how it goes. Some children love slipping into PJs and snuggling down in a cart for the night, others prefer to go back to base to snooze. Ear defenders are definitely a good idea and plenty of blankets, fleeces, pillows and quilts will add to the appeal. My two are usually so worn out after running around all day, they’re no trouble at night. If you have a young baby, take a sling - one of my all-time Camp Bestival highlights was watching John Cooper Clarke in the Big Top with Kitty asleep in a wrap.
Our friends electric
Yes, of course you’re going to want to Instagram that moment when your little one met Mr Tumble. But, horror of horrors, your iPhone is only on 5%. Don’t despair, head for Volt, where you can pick up a portable charger, and swap it for a fully charged one each day for £14.95 (if you book in advance online) and a £10 deposit.
Money, money, money
It’s a good idea to come to Camp Bestival with lots of cash. There are cash points, but they come with queues and you wouldn’t want to miss out on Rick Astley. There are so many things you’ll want to buy – off the top of my head, I always like to get a programme with Josie Da Bank-illustrated canvas bag and bespoke CB colouring book, Firetoys is always Alfie must-visit stall – and, in case you’ve forgotten any essentials, the Curiously Convenient Store is a life saver.
Don't forget to read part 1 and tune in to part 3 for advice on food and drink options.
The Definitive Guide to Camp Bestival part 2 by Lucy Davies