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Bestival Update: The Best gets better

By Joe Brookes –

On May 15th, the organisers of Bestival held a very special boat party on HMS President, just a couple hundred metres away from The Strand campus. Guests were greeted with rum punch served by charming sailor boys and girls, on the orange London evening melted swaying of the boat. The passengers prepared for a musical mystery tour, anticipating the announcement of the third headliner. Rob da Bank hailed us all onto the dance floor in preparation for the 7PM announcement, and it was clear from the general foot-twitching that whoever he and his wife Josie had chosen, they would be dance-orientated. Daft Punk? Rumours were circulating, tempted by the timely release of their new album, and the decks set up on the boat.

But no, Bestival prides itself on staying close to its roots, and their move is even better calculated. Fatboy Slim is the Friday night headliner! It is well befitting of the tenth birthday spectacular to have someone who played at the first event ten years ago, someone who has advocated the festival, and most importantly, an act that can round off the Friday night with an explosion of energy and typical Bestival euphoria. Festival’s are all about the fun, and Fatboy Slim has over the years become one of the fathers of disc-orientated fun, something which Bestival revolves around.

Bestival Mainstage (Photo by Louise Roberts)

This comes amongst a string of announcements, firstly the new party area named ‘The Port.’ Rob da Bank says: “I’m probably more excited about this new stage for Bestival than anything else in the last decade of creating fun and mental spaces for people to party on.” As part of the tenth birthday celebrations, the stage is symbolic of a Bestival homecoming, hence the name.

Festival-goers will be part of a poignantly nautical top-deck bustling. I prescribe you this party, with acts such as Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, and an Annie Mac presents selection to grace the decks, you are sure to be moving uncontrollably and it might just be the best exercise you’ve had since the start of University (remember those times, when you tried and failed to go to the gym every day?). Even more fun can be had on the helter-skelter lighthouse, where you can watch the Bestival site spin around you and be greeted with rum bars at the bottom; the sky can’t even escape the magic, with aerial performances from a huge crane, as well as pyrotechnics, and of course, more beautiful sailor girls and boys. I’m desperate to arrive into port.


(Photo by Jamie Baker)


If the sailor boys aren’t enough, then Bestival has now announced a string of gay parties, and the Port is set to be taken over by New York and London’s hottest gay club, Room Service! This will take the house music at the festival even deeper underground, with sets from DJ’s Jodie Harsh, Kris Di Angelis and Severino, and will be happening on the Friday. This comes with the return of the Horse Meat Disco, a flamboyant rave inspired by the New York club scene in the heady days of the 80s and 90s, and will be making its tenth appearance at the festival.

Making its second appearance at the festival this year will be The Grand Palace of Entertainment, occupying the site as a glorious fairground house of fun. In the daytime it will provide everything from music to comedy and games. In the night-time it will descend into a rainbow of “raucous” fun, ranging from karaoke to the wonderful sounding Totally Exciting Championship of Household Games Tournament – a competition so far out only Bestival could put it on. All of this will be surrounded by the half-sane genius of Alex Noble, Lady Gaga’s dressmaker, who will decorate the venue!

As well as Fatboy Slim’s Bestival Birthday Bash, the majesty of Elton John, the downright swagger of Snoop Dogg, and the multitude of other acts already on the line-up, more great live music has been announced. I’m personally chewing at the bit to see Crystal Fighters again, after seeing them last summer, and they have been announced for Bestival too. Their latest album, ‘Cave Rave’, released on the 27th May, is a fantastic mix of electronic and folk music, and sounds perfect for Bestival. However, their live set takes things to new heights, and they really do come into their own, with raw Mediterranean energy and street-level drops; this band is charismatic and poised for a big break, and I believe we will witness this at Bestival.

(Photo by Jamie Baker)

Other live music includes melodic electronic pioneer – and Monsters OST composer – Jon Hopkins, as well as Howard Marks, The Correspondents, Valerie June, East India Youth, Tythe, Sean McGowan, Sarah Close, New City Kings, my new favourite Mancunians The Slow Show, quirky alt-poppers Velvet Stream, Bestival’s Island choral competition winners Wight Harmony, and Mr Tom.

Naturally, a big bag of new DJs have been announced, the cherry on top of is of course Hudson Mohawke, who’s production talents have been nabbed by the likes of Kanye West. His talent on the decks has been nabbed by Bestival this year and it is going to be a wonky and wonderful set. Hacienda legend Greg Wilson will also be playing, as well as Micky Finn, Bobby Tank, JFB Scratch, Bestival Island DJ competition winner Long Jack, and the London DJ collective Warm, who I am personally anticipating. These are amongst a plethora of DJs who are going to keep the festival buzzing 24 hours a day.

From the site itself to the music, Bestival really does keep on getting better. Its timing at the end of the festival season makes it literally the party to end all parties, and one not to be missed. On top of the I in the Bestival logo is a red heart, symbolic of the waves of love which go into its organisation, the beating hearts of Rob and Josie da Bank who treat it with parental care, and the pulsating mass of people coming together to have a great time. What else is going to music festivals about?

Student Ticket with entry from Thursday 5th September – £180

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