2018 marked the second year that Bestival has spent at its new home at Lulworth Castle in Dorset. This year also saw the festival move dates for the first time in its history, from the second weekend in September, to the weekend after the festival’s family-friendly sister event Camp Bestival. After this turbulent time for Bestival, and stiff competition from other south coast festivals, most notably Boomtown, Bestival needed to bounce back and provide festival-goers with a truly special experience. One thing on Bestival’s side was this year’s incredible weather; a roasting hot 30-degree weekend.
Organisers made some appropriate improvements to the Dorset site. Most notably, the newly conceived Temple stage had been flipped round and turned downhill. Unlike last year, putting the Temple in this gentle sloping amphitheatre meant a quality view from all angles. A sure improvement for those late night DJ sets without having to crane your neck uphill to get a view of the artist on stage.
Bestival has always created an annual theme around each festival and this year we welcomed ‘Circus’ to Dorset. The festival’s long-standing Caravanserai stage became 2018’s centrepiece and hub for all things circus. In true Bestival fashion, organiser Rob da Bank and team went all out incorporating circus acts, trapeze artists, and even a human cannonball; you name something circus-y, they had it. These many shows intertwined so well with this year’s musical programme. The squeeze so much into four days is a true testament to Bestival’s party-starting experience that we’ve all come to know and love. You can never get bored at Bestival. There is always something to do or see.
In amongst the circus theming, Bestival’s instantly recognisable collection of incredible world record-breaking installations were, as always, present. In 2014 Bestival went all Desert Island Disco and teamed up with disco legend Nile Rogers to create the world’s largest disco ball. During Chic & Nile Rogers’ Sunday headline set, the disco ball was suspended using a crane to break the world record. The ball has stood proudly at Bestival ever since, marking arguably one the festival’s best years. This year also saw the return of the world’s largest confetti canon, something that was introduced to Bestival only last year when it was launched during Annie Mac’s set, at the Temple, live on BBC Radio 1. We couldn’t, of course, leave our another of Bestival’s impressive records; the world’s largest bouncy castle. First introduced at the Bestival team’s day festival in Southampton, Common People, the bouncy castle is the world’s biggest and has been enjoyed by adults and children alike. The bouncy castle has also become a regular at Bestival events.
The Feast Collective have been in attendance at Bestival for a number of years offering festival-goers not just the same old festival food but some of the best street food and drink in the country. A select range of independent businesses serve up some incredible foodstuffs from many different countries across the globe. Despite the blazing heat, the Feast Collective was very busy throughout the weekend. Foodies highlight – there was a small bar promoting and selling a brand new item; shots that come in a plastic edible membrane. This was strange, to say the least, biting into the shot it burst in your both and left behind the chewy membrane. Is this the future of drinking shots?
What about the artists then? We’ve selected three of our most amazing moments at Bestival 2018.
London Grammar - The Nottingham trio known as London Grammar have been creating their unique brand of minimalist indie pop music since 2009. The group’s 2013 debut record ‘If You Wait’ set the band flying when it peaked at Number 2 in the UK Album Chart. The band’s second studio album, ‘Truth Is a Beautiful Thing’, earned London Grammar their first Number 1 record and has seen them play across the globe. That seemed like a good reason to have them headline Bestival’s Saturday night.
Their performance was truly awe-inspiring, a magical journey through the band’s already bursting catalogue of tracks. Frontwoman Hannah Reid’s voice is not like anyone else’s in contemporary pop music; it defines the band and gives London Grammar their emotive style. Their performance was raw, with the group’s stripped back sound emanating so gracefully from the festival speakers. It’s always a testament to a band’s talents when their music translates from record to festival stage with such clarity and emotion. London Grammar has got to of graced us with one of the best headline performances this year so far.
Bicep - Northern Irish electronic music duo Bicep has firmly cemented themselves a place in the dance music hall of fame with their techno-influenced production styles and DJ sets. The pair has become a regular fixture on festival and event lineups across the globe and in 2017 began their first ever live tour which sold out venues in Europe, the US and Japan. Their debut self-titled LP was released in September last year on Ninja Tune. It peaked at Number 20 on the UK Album Chart.
Taking a late-night DJ set at the Temple, Bicep conducted one of the best sets this festival seasons so far. Deep rolling techno seemed fitting for the vibe made only better by the stage’s beefy sound system and specialist lights and lasers. Bicep kept the pace up and the mood alive, not taking their feet off the pedal at any moment. When ‘Glue’, the lead single from their album, was dropped, the crowd erupted. This was certainly the highlight of the set.
Mr Jukes – With Bombay Bicycle Club on hiatus, frontman Jack Steadman has been focusing on his new project Mr Jukes, a band in which he also fronts. His new music is clearly influenced by Bombay Bicycle Club but has modern jazz, funk and soul at its core. Mr Jukes’ debut LP ‘God First’ was released in July last year on Island Records.
The group’s Bestival performance saw them play a late night show at the Bigtop. It was energetic with positive vibes and the use of horns are always something that can lift a gig. Its great to see someone known for a genre of music, adapting and showing off their musical talents by taking on something completely new and pulling it off so well. Mr Jukes certainly fitted the bill at Bestival and made for one of the weekend’s most innovative and well-received sets.
All of this, combined with the amazing weather, created an atmosphere that has been missing at Bestival since 2015; pure summer bliss. 2018’s edition of the festival was almost a return to form. The festival’s combination of great production, a hard-working theme, amazing street food and some of the world’s best artists meant for arguably one of the UK’s best festivals this season. Keep wowing us like this Bestival and the future is bright!