It was the last party of the summer – and what a celebration it was. While most major music festivals this year saw revellers drenched by heavy rain, Bestival was soaked in sunshine. The event near Newport was a sell-out success between Thursday and Sunday, with the final campers heading home tanned and happy today.
The festival, now in its ninth year and organised by DJ Rob da Bank, is famous for its fancy dress and this year’s theme was wildlife. The lush greenery of Robin Hill Country Park provided the perfect backdrop for groups of revellers dressed as leopards, tigers, pandas, monkeys and many more exotic and indigenous animals.
With temperatures soaring into the 20s and spectacular sunsets, festival-goers enjoyed a much more clement climate than those who attended the bigger Isle of Wight Festival in June.
Scottish singer Emeli Sande followed an intense set from post-rock band The xx on the main stage on Friday evening. After wowing a worldwide audience at the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, she treated Bestival to a mix of big hits like Heaven and new material including a track called Tiger (which went down especially well with one group of fancy dress animals). She also gave a rendition of Coldplay’s Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.
Chart-topping Florence + The Machine followed in the headline slot, playing tracks from both her albums and getting the whole crowd bouncing to Dog Days Are Over.
As is the tradition at Bestival, TV exercise hero Mr Motivator took to the main stage on Saturday morning. Giving the crowd a workout, he warmed them-up for the day ahead, which included a headline set from 1980s band New Order. They didn’t disappoint, peppering their set with favourites including Blue Monday and an encore of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart.
Frontman Bernard Sumner said at the end: ‘Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
‘Bestival - it is THE best festival.’
Sunday welcomed urban favourites Rizzle Kicks, singer-songwriter Bat For Lashes and Icelandic ambient post-rock band Sigur Ros. Singing and piano legend Stevie Wonder closed the event with an upbeat, two-hour party set ending in a firework finale.
For those who were not among more than 50,000 music fans to get a ticket, the whole event was streamed live on YouTube.
Helen Roberts, 31, from Fareham, said: ‘It’s been amazing. There’s such a good atmosphere and the weather helps!
‘I couldn’t pick out a highlight because I’ve seen so many brilliant bands.
‘But it’s not just about the music – there’s so much other stuff going on all the time.’
Lee Taylor, 29, from Southsea, said: ‘I like to explore all the smaller stages. It’s all about variety for me.’
Bestival spokesman Simon Blackmore said: ‘Bestival now runs more than 20 stages spread across 10 fields.
‘But it is away from the main stages that the real heart and soul of Bestival is to be found – from the amazing death defying motorcycle exploits in the Wall of Death, to a proper sit-down reservations only Underground Restaurant.
‘Rob [da Bank] has obviously played a complete blinder with the line-up this year. How on Earth is he going to top it for our tenth anniversary in September 2013?’
Shannon Pitman, 13, from Freshwater, said: ‘It’s my first time at the Bestival.
‘It’s good because it’s very different from the other festivals I’ve been to.
‘It’s quite random and a bit chaotic, but that’s all part of the fun. Your senses are bombarded with so many different things.I’ll definitely be back next year.’
Watch highlights from the festival on youtube.com/user/bestivaltv