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Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight,
PO30 2NU, EnglandMAP
£180 for Thu-Sun - camping sold out, premium camping £299
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Thu 6th Sep 2012
Saturday morning and the sun is still shining over Bestival. Saturday is traditionally the main day for Bestival's fancy dress, so it was with some surprise that as we walked down to the main arena, how few people were wearing any. The theme this year is Wildlife so we put it down to the combination of a hot day and having to don furry suits that made people reluctant to dress up yet.
Like many others, after a late night last night, we have decided that we are going to take a more relaxed approach to start today. Heading straight down towards the Bollywood area and the ever enticing cocktail tent, we then head to get out of the heat by having our first wander through the Ambient Forest. This is just one of the things I love about Bestival, you can be in the middle of thousands partying away to the big acts on the main stages, and yet just ten minutes away you have some of the most serene walks through the woodland. This is another area that has been expanded this year, giving the opportunity to see some of the sculptures that for the rest of the year are a part of the attraction of the country park.
In the forest there were many more people in fancy dress, either making use of the cooler shelter provided by the woods, or maybe just wanting to be more in touch with the local wildlife. For those who didn't have a costume there were also a number of workshops making headdresses and other wildlife-related items.
The Bandstand is set on the side of one of the steepest hills on site but is worth making the trek up the hill for three reasons: first, is the real ale tent, second is the bandstand gives great views across the festival site, and third, and most importantly, at the very top is the now legendary Women's Institute Tent, who for a bargain price of 70p (anything less than £2 at a festival is a miracle) provide tea and home-baked cakes, a fitting reward for all who climb the hill. While we enjoyed cream cakes and tea we got to enjoy some of the acts there particularly standing out was Ska'd for Life a good ska covers band that even managed to get a chilled out/hungover crowd up on their feet to numbers such as 'Monkey Man' and 'Rudi'.
Back on the main stage Sister Sledge was just coming to an end, to give way to an act that are as much a staple of Bestival as the fancy dress. The Cuban Brothers this year have upped the show and rather than performing to recorded music now have a full live band. Following an accident where singer/MC Miguel Mantobani "bust his banjo string", he was carried out on to the stage in an ornate chair. But this did not take away from the eccentric and energetic style. This year as well as his dance duo Deep Penetration there was a guest appearance by 80's soul singer Omar best known for 'There's Nothing Like This'.
De La Soul were next on the main stage, but arriving on stage 25 minutes late and with the sun going in behind the clouds it wasn't just the temperature that dropped, with some of the crowd visibly drifting off to the sound of other stages, but once out on stage the performance picked up and the crowd flooded back, the sun even came back out from behind the clouds.
We then left the main arena in search of food but as often happens at Bestival, even the best laid plans need to be open to change. Dub Pistols were about to take to the Replay stage, with what was the biggest crowd we had seen at this venue so far over the weekend. They were probably as, if not more energetic than ever. Although plans for them to play on main stage this year were thwarted by their performance in Ibiza Friday night, I have no doubt that they will be back for Bestival again and hopefully on main stage.
Still in search of food, we found ourselves distracted yet again by the comedy tent, catching Robin Ince for a second time and Jarred Christmas. Having failed to be inspired by the offerings there we returned to the main arena, only to get distracted a third time by the excellent Death In Vegas, a band who surely deserve more success than they have up until now.
By this stage in the evening, we were distinctly hungry, so forcibly stopped ourselves getting distracted by shows and went in search of food. Bestival food tends to follow the usual festival fayre of burgers, pies, Mexican and curries of various combinations. The usual suspects are all there, such as Pie Minister, Asian Grub Foundation and Le Grande Bouffe, but it's worth taking time to search around as there are a few independents who offer some good alternatives. Prices are about what you'd expect for a festival, with burgers at the £5 mark, while a full meal will set you back around £8, but again, if you're prepared to shop around there are a few places that offer meals for less. If you're after liquid refreshment, then the main arena bars will sell you a pint of Gaymers or Tuborg for £4.60, or a can of the same for £4.10. In addition to this are some fringe venues that offer a wider range of drinks, particularly the real ale bar by the Bandstand which offered a range of local ales for the same price, or the Bollywood bar which offers cocktails for £6-£10 depending on the contents. Soft drinks were about £2 for a cola, and the same for a bottle of water which seemed a tad steep to me.
Having managed to eat something, we returned to the main stage for Two Door Cinema Club, whose bright indie rock warmed the crowd up for the headline act New Order. I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with New Order, loving the Blue Monday period, but struggling to enjoy their later work, and as much as I wanted to enjoy them here, I just couldnt get into it Bernard Sumner's voice isn't the strongest, but at times he was almost lost in the mix, and you got the impression that he was struggling to keep pace with the rest of the band. For a headliner, you'd expect a far more polished performance than this really, so we left them to it.
Bestival has so much to offer and when reviewing you often feel you need to see as much as possible, for many festivals this could take some of the enjoyment away, but with Bestival it means that you realise how diverse the festival is, and I often wonder how many go and never set foot in the main arena, or out of it for that matter.
Deciding to retire early to the campsite (well, relatively early, as it was gone midnight, but for Bestival that's early), but even back at the campsite we were still entertained, as the close proximity to Arcadia meant we could enjoy the music from there as well as the spectacle of Arcadia, particularly the mechanical cabaret with Jean Monti, performing 150ft up on one of the world's highest Sway Poles, a truly amazing show from any distance. With the success over the last two days what can Bestival 2012 put our way on its final day?