The word ‘eclectic’ is often banded around whilst describing festivals and their lineups, however when it comes to Bestival, it couldn’t be more fitting. Taking place within the grounds of Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle of Wight, this weird and wonderful shindig, as curated by ex-BBC Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank, sees out the festival season in a splendidly pompous fashion. As is the norm with Bestival, this year festival has thrown itself into the theme of ‘the future’ and boasts a number of wacky theme related attractions including the new improved Spaceport stage, and with headline slots from The Cure and Major Lazer, this year’s Bestival looks to be a surefire success. Here is everything you need to know about Bestival 2016.
Bestival is by no means your standard festival and has many different stages encompassing various genres and performances. Rob Da Bank has to be commended, as with Bestival he has created a festival that is so much more than just music, port-a-loos and beer. He has certainly tapped into something very unique and exciting and in turn created a distinctive atmosphere, for example, there are not many festivals around the UK that you would find an alpaca farm or giant inflatable church. Here are a few of the stages I picked out as being particularly striking and a must see.
This bric-a-brac stage in the style of a gypsy travellers camp is one of the festival’s many hidden gems. Caravanserai is one of the more chilled corners of the vast Bestival grounds, hosting an eclectic mix of music of varying genres and styles. Its an area filled with oddities and curiosities, including lots of food stalls, bumper cars styled into seats and what can only be described as an adult climbing frame made from two caravans. A truly spectacular venue, and one that sums up the gloriously chaotic ambiance of the festival.
The Bollywood tent has been in existence since the festival’s inception in 2004 and has remained a popular site of those in search of exuberant dance music. Complete with a colourful hand-stitched tent, this stage is a must visit and often pulls big name celebrity DJ, with last year seeing the likes of Lily Allen and Mark Ronson grace its stage.
This year, replacing the HMS Bestival at the Port (something that has been a permanent and popular fixture at the festival for a number of years), is the Spaceport and a vast rocket shaped stage that stands at over twenty metres in height, embracing this year’s theme of ‘The Future’. This will be the late-night hotspot of the festival, with world renowned DJs including the likes of; Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim and Diplo all taking to the stage in what is sure to be an extravaganza of lasers, dancing, pyrotechnics and state of the art sound-systems.
The Amphitheatre is one of the quieter, more reserved areas of the Bestival site, nestled amongst the woodlands and plays home to some of the festival’s most talented artists. Whether it is comedy, theatre, poetry, sketch shows, quizzes or spoken word, this stage is the home to it all and is this year curated by the infamous Scroobius Pip.
No matter what genres you are into, there will be something at Bestival for you. This year’s lineup is awash with musical talent, ranging from the electronic monoliths Major Lazer to bright young upstarts like South-London rapper Loyle Carner and Welsh indie stars Pretty Vicious. Here are a few acts I picked out that best demonstrate the eclectic nature of this year’s Bestival.
Gothic rock titans The Cure are one of this year’s headliners, with Robert Smith and the band returning to the Bestival Main Stage that they conquered back in 2011 with a mammoth 32 song set. The Cure unlike many acts of the era have a certain longevity that make them still a vital musical presence in 2016 and serve as a strong influence on many of today’s current crop of bands. The band are sure to play tracks off many of their thirteen studio albums, so expect to hear anthems including the likes; Friday I’m in Love, Just Like Heaven and Boys Don’t Cry. This is sure to be a spectacular Saturday night headline slot.
Former Housemartin and world renowned DJ Norman Cook, who most commonly goes by the alias ‘Fatboy Slim’, is one of the acts headlining this year’s Spaceport, in what is sure to be a euphoric, dance extravaganza. The man behind some of the biggest dance anthems of the 90s (think Rockafeller Skank, Praise You and Right Here, Right Now) is something to behold live and as veteran of Bestival, having headlined the Main stage twice before, as well as performing on many of the other stages that Bestival bestows, this is sure to be an energetic, hit-heavy set. A ‘superstar DJ’ and a true master of his craft.
Skepta is widely regarded as the ‘godfather of grime’ and the driving force behind the huge revival that the scene has experienced over the last few years. After years working his way through pirate radio stations and playing small time raves, the North London MC is beginning to blossom into a true mainstream performer with his grounded rhymes appealing to a mass youth audience. Bestival has very much been a festival that has embraced the revival of grime, following huge performances last year from Boy Better Know and Stormzy, whilst this year sports the likes of Kano and Wiley’s Eskimo Dance. However, it is this set from Skepta, which will be the most anticipated of the weekend and the crowning moment for one of the most naturally talented British artists out there right now.
Another act that have cut their teeth playing small, grotty venues and have gained huge momentum and built a staggering fan base over the last few years are indie rockers Wolf Alice. Hailing from North London, Wolf Alice had an amazing year in 2015, with the release of ‘My Love is Cool’ topping off a year that saw them receive a Mercury Prize nomination, take almost every festival in the UK by storm and headline two sold out nights at Brixton’s O2 Academy. Their intense, rapturous performances are highly sought after and a must see at Bestival this year . You cannot help but feel that it is not too long before they themselves will be headlining festivals in the near future!
Having released their debut album, ‘Human Ceremony’, earlier this year to critical acclaim, this New York trio are set to grace Bestival’s Invaders of the Future Stage. With a unique psychedelic sound, best described as a cross between Tame Impala (even having a song named after the band) and Black Sabbath, Sunflower Bean are a must see live and after cutting their teeth supporting the likes of The Vaccines are ready to hit the big time.
The festival’s latest announcement sees the Sunday night end in a spectacularly, celebratory fashion with both Jamaican dancehall hero, Sean Paul and hip hop star Wiz Khalifa playing big sets to end Bestival 2016. This is a move that has proved popular in this year’s festival season with Bestival following the likes of Isle of Wight and Reading & Leeds in employing the co-headline format, which allows the festival to bring two house-hold names together to close the Main Stage. Such an announcement in many ways embodies the Bestival ethos, with two rather wacky and fun performers set to follow in the footsteps of Missy Elliot, Chic (featuring Nile Rodgers), Elton John and Stevie Wonder in taking up, what Sean Paul himself described as, ‘the best festival spot in the EU’.
Armed with an arsenal of tunes, this pair are more than ready to entertain the Bestival crowds one last time before the weekend is out.