This year Rob da Bank invited Bestival goers into Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle of Wight to live out their fantasies in one of the biggest fancy dress parties on the planet. The three days of music, comedy, cabaret and art was attended by a biggest-ever crowd of around 48,000 revellers, and they let their imaginations run away with them while enjoying a selection of the finest acts - old and new.
Thursday has become an increasingly popular time to arrive on the Isle of Wight and reports were that the island has been besieged by eager Bestivalers keen to arrive before the first main day of music. Some of the campsites had become full and there was the opportunity to explore the country park ahead without the distraction of the main acts. The late night entertainment came from Back to the Phuture, a collective who specialise in melding the 1980s with today’s electro sounds, and headlined by Steel City synth svengalis Heaven 17. Sadly it was a disco treat I would miss out on, instead arriving on Friday afternoon as Bestival was bursting into life.
Hawtin stood between his musical machines and laptops surrounded by a tower of LED lights
The Countryside Alliance Crew were ripping through their rural anthems
It's often hard to know how to approach the final day of a festival. Sometimes you want to take it easy after a heavy night, sometimes you feel the need to keep up the pace. This Sunday was one that start relatively quietly then soon became a juggernaut at the last minute before a sudden escape from the Isle of Wight. Waking up to the heat of the sun was a welcome relief after Saturday's rain which, after dozing for an hour, eventually energised me to make an earlier start on proceedings. Country folk band Tunng were the first port of call in the Big Top where their dreamy songs were ideal for a suddenly very sleepy soul. A thought turned towards the Big Wheel next to Arcadia for a wake up spin which proved to be an inspiration. As we arrived to board the wheel, famous synths could be heard - it was a secret set by Snap! playing their most famous tune: "Rhythm is a Dancer". Boarding the wheel the duo kept the tune playing, one of the highlights of the weekend and unlikely to ever be experienced in such a random moment ever again. Newly refreshed, we listened to the Disco Bloodbath on Arcadia briefly before heading back to the Big Top where Beardyman was giving his vocal chords a work out. Ever the showman he took in all kinds of classic tunes old and new amid loops of his voice with effects beefing up the tracks. He's a one-man show who sounds like a whole bank of synthesisers or even a whole band. Impressive.
A secret set by Snap! playing their most famous tune: "Rhythm is a Dancer"
Bestival 2010 once again proved to be a spectacular show with the fancy dress of Saturday an undoubted jewel in its crown with an atmosphere that is not replicated at any other festival. Though it felt a little too busy this year and there certainly needs to be more effort made to encourage Bestivalers to explore beyond the main stage and Big Top over to the north field which was eerily empty this year despite the presence of two stages, the event is just in need of fine tuning. The campsites could also do with a rethink as some are a bit distant from the main arena, though it's not worth complaining too much. Bestival capped off the festival season in style once more and giving eager music lovers one last hurrah.
- Photography by Freya van Lessen