Phew! 2012 has been quite a year for us Brits- and Bestival was the perfect ending. After months of bunting and official Jubilee cakes and crockery, Mandeville trinkets and the Olympians celebrating, Euro Football and washout weather Gossipdrip ended the summer that will go down in history in the sunny climes of Isle of Wight.
The summer has been eventful, eclectic and historical and the magic of Bestival has embellished all of those memories capping the year off with copious amounts of glitter and cider splashes.
Whilst London has been a buzzing hub of tourists and events it felt great to leave the cacophony of the city behind and escape to an Island that felt like a bit of a hidden gem. The sun finally veered its shy face from behind the clouds for what felt like the first time in months, making the fields sun-kissed and much more appealing to live in for five days!.
A comparatively small and sometimes unknown festival, Bestival is approaching its tenth birthday and attracting crowds by the bucket-load each September. It's like a miniature Glastonbury with more of a branded feel and guests that range from hipster to old school hippie. Expect Benefit make-up tents, Ben and Jerry's ice cream and Vogue cigarette vendors.
Yet although there are many familiar brands dotted around the site expect weird and wonderful settings like the Psychedelic worm, the wishing tree, Bollywood Gardens and burlesque tearooms all from the inner workings of Mr and Mrs Rob da Bank's minds. Sounds crazy huh? You're not wrong. But at Bestival it seems anything goes. This was notion was embodied by the dedication to the wildlife theme as festival-goers donned peacock feathers, umbrellas were made to look like jellyfish and committed to furry onesies even in the sweltering heat.
The weekend was kicked off with the strutting sounds of Alabama Shakes. This band is crazily cool with a front woman who means business. Their album is undoubtedly one of those albums you should have brought this year. Then revellers lost their minds long into the first night to the infectiously danceable tunes of Hot Chip.
Friday was a perfect official opening as the crowds filled out further once everyone had finally found a camping spot to grab some much-needed sleep. As nighttime began to descend The XX creating hysteria and atmosphere by doing as little as possible. A band that work so well by being naturally simplistic and talented. The crowd stretches back beyond where the eye can see, as these three black-clad 23-year-olds exceed all hype and expectations with a dusk-time set of ghostly, minimal and enigmatic soft caresses that barely leave a trace. Their set-list is full of building crescendos, tension and brooding vocals- making their songs a curious dichotomy of blissful make-out tunes and sinister sounds. Cuts from their latest album Coexist are utterly dazzling – expect to see The XX headlining some pretty massive stages next summer- Glastonbury 2013 perhaps?
Hands up if you're planning to do something that you're really going to regret this weekend," beams a cheeky Florence Welch to a packed out-field. "You have my blessing." Before bursting into a rendition of her hit song, Shake it Out. Florence's set is magical, awe inspiring and whimsical as she prances around the stage like a pixie to the sound of her orchestra whilst belting out long, loud and high notes. There was a sea of flailing arms and flower-laden heads reciting Flo's tunes word for word. She embraced the wildlife theme dressing as flame-haired heroine Poison Ivy. Try at all costs to get a ticket to her 6 date UK tour- tickets on sale tomorrow.
Other highlights included: Ben Howard, Kate Nash, Lucy Rose, Palma Violets and bluesy boy of the moment Jake Bugg. Bestival supplies sounds for everyone and there is always something new to discover.
Stevie Wonder, fireworks and Friendly Fires rounded off the weekend with tons of sing-a-longs and cheers that left my ears ringing for the duration of my journey home.
One notable point, without sounding like too much of a flower-power hippie type is how friendly and happy everyone was during Bestival. From the staff, bands, campers and even security- amazing what face paint, sunshine and cider can do!
If you went to Bestival what was your highlight? Did you get lost in the maze? Go to the roller-disco? Have Crumpets with Strumpets or cocktails on a bus?