Having children doesn’t mean the days of the weekend party in a field are over. With the kids kipping in the tent as well, festivals are just a little different. Piers Townley talks to Josie da Bank, creative director of Camp Bestival
Josie da Bank knows a thing or two about festivals. This mum of three and Goldsmiths art graduate is married to Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank and together they founded and now run Camp Bestival. It takes place in the picturesque grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset.
A Glastonbury veteran, Josie now takes an immersive and hands-on role, along with her three young boys, for this August weekender. With dozens of acts, arts and crafts, workshops and activities, all specifically designed for young families, Camp Bestival will be the year’s best adventure for anyone.
‘I actually think we should start appealing to grandparents so that three generations can all come at once,’ says Josie. ‘There are a lot of grandparents who have missed out on festivals. Both our parents come to the festival and everyone camps. We have such a brilliant time and it’s brought so much joy into our family.’
Josie and her family are gripped by the festival bug and it’s framed their lives so far. ‘The boys have loads of input,’ she says. ‘This year we’ve got Horrible Histories, much to the delight of my youngest. My middle boy is really into wildlife so we have lots of nature trails inspired by what he likes. If we get our friends’ children round, I’m always asking them what they would like to see and do.’
Josie is passionate that the experience of Camp Bestival goes beyond just seeing a few bands. The drive behind the festival’s line-up and its carefully crafted setting is to inspire an exceptional and comfortably safe experience for all festival-goers. ‘It’s really important to get out of the box we all live in and try something different,’ says Josie. ‘It’s lovely to see dads who go to work every day sitting in the fields and watching a band and really relaxing with their kids and getting them into stuff like the art workshops.’
Camp Bestival has changed since the early first days. ‘When we started back in 2008, there were no other family festivals at all – or at least none that was pitched as such,’ says Josie. ‘It’s constantly evolving. The content has developed as our children have got older. When we first started, we realised that families needed a lot more space than couples or people in groups. Within a few hours of the gates opening for the first time, we’d run out of space. Families had brought tents, gazebos, toilets and about four times as much kit as regular festival-goers. We had to quickly rent more land and more toilets!’
Since then, family-friendly weekenders have become enormously popular, with the likes of The Big Chill and Green Man offering the Glastonbury generation the chance to enjoy a festival with their children. There are plenty of others that, even if they don’t cater entirely for families, devote at least part of their weekend’s structure to children.
This doesn’t mean that your first family festival will be a stressful, exhausting time. It’ll just be different with the kids tagging along.
‘If it’s your first time and you’ve been to lots of festival before you were parents, you need to go realising that it’s going to be a very different experience,’ says Josie. ‘Those long boozy nights dancing in a field are gone. You’re going to have to be up very early. At normal festivals the stages open about midday. At Camp Bestival some of the children’s activities start at 9am.
‘But it is relaxing for us. I make sure I spend a lot of time with the children over the weekend. There’s just no point in us doing this if I can’t spend the time with the kids.’
Josie da Bank is creative director of the award-winning family festi-holiday Camp Bestival, which takes place on 1–4 August at Lulworth Castle, Dorset. This year’s theme is ‘Around The World’. For more details visit campbestival.net
Watch this video for a taste of what to expect!