For Bestival’s Year of Colour, it wasn’t just the cocktails that were dark ’n’ stormy. Nevertheless, some sturdy boutique options and a powerhouse lineup kept spirits high and the vibes decadent
‘Go west!’, sang the Pet Shop Boys at the end of their headline set. But organisers Rob and Josie da Bank had pre-empted them, moving Bestival from the Isle of Wight to Dorset for the first time this year. That got rid of the ferries and (some of) the traffic jams but, early in September, the weather came at the Lulworth Estate hard.
Amid the rain and high winds, the boutique options were many and we were able to lead a very sheltered existence. Close to the main arena, but quiet, the Pitch Village private campsite kept its pre-pitched tents securely pegged, its toilets spotless and the showers running hot. So we were perfectly prepped to nip out between the storms, along with all of the other (ahem) twenty-somethings.
Around and about the smaller new site, the trippy icons of Bestival’s past – the clockwork robot, the record-breaking mirrorball, the giant astronauts – had all made the journey, but it was the music that really lifted the crowds out of the mire. A Tribe Called Quest, Jamie T, The XX, those aforementioned Pet Shops – the names were big and their performances cut right through the conditions.
Bestival’s Year of Colour was also lit up by some carefully chosen street-food options. Pitched up on a lawn behind Lulworth Castle, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen plated up the best on-the-fly festival food we’ve tasted. Joining the queues at least once a day, we wished we didn’t have a remit to get around a few of the other stalls.
Sailor Jerry’s, though, was our most regular stop-off. This wasn’t just any port in a storm: as well as some first-rate Jerry Loves Ginger dark ’n’ stormies, the rum brand had laid on a ‘tattoo projection experience’. In a tricked-out shipping container, festival goers could submit their arms to a virtual-reality inking, choosing from the vintage designs of Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins himself. In a field already containing a Jägerhaus and Jose Cuervo’s Tequila Town, Jerry’s Parlour stood out as the most ‘2017’ of all the activations – and a fine fit for a festival that’s always been big on body paint and glitter.
On Sunday afternoon, just when it looked like the final evening’s entertainment might have to cede to an illegally high wind, we squeezed into a Bathing Under the Sky hot tub. Its curative powers shouldn’t be underestimated, and groups of six to eight can book one all to themselves. As we emerged restored, the weather relented and the Pet Shops could start giving out directions.
The da Banks have already announced the dates for next year: 2-5 August. A month earlier, and we think we know why.
Hospitality tickets for the 2018 event are on sale here.
Why not check out some of our other reviews from the best festivals for hospitality this summer while you’re at it? For jazz there’s Love Supreme, for champagne fanatics there’s Krug Festival, and for rock there’s Download.
Photos Rob Ball, Georgina Harrison