Fresh off the back of the previous weekends wash out at Camp Bestival, it was difficult to predict what would be in store weather wise for this years 15th anniversary at Bestival. Thankfully, the festival saw the return of this summers heatwave as the temperatures soared across the grounds of Lulworth Estate Following typical Bestival tradition, this years festival goers adventured to the Circus for the weekend as the site welcomed all things diverse from acrobats to tightrope walkers over the duration of the weekend.
It almost seemed that this years festival was on the off-set from the start. Bestival 2017 saw the festival at its new home at Lulworth Estate for the first time which certainly unearthed some teething problems along the way. The festival already struggled with ticket sales since its move from the Isle of Wight and cancellations from grime star Wiley, as well as the closure of the arena on the Sunday due to poor weather conditions, and also the death of a young woman due to drug overdose, it was clear to suggest that this years Bestival would have something to prove. As with any festival, sometimes things do just go wrong. It almost felt like someone just needed to give Rob Da Bank and his team a break when scheduling on Friday and Saturday went drastically wrong, especially with the last minute cancellation of English-rapper Stefflon Don who was supposedly ‘stuck in traffic’ and left a 90 minute void on the main stage. However, with celebrating the 15th year of adventures, there was nothing but a wholesome atmosphere all weekend despite the small glitches along the way which brought with it a sense of unity, sheer happiness and fun throughout.
This year saw the return of Rob Da Bank’s sense of vision. With the issues from Bestival 2016 still looming over us with the most bizarre and underwhelming lineup so far, this years festival was not going to be joining that weekend in the disastrous hall of fame. Instead, festival goers were treated to performances from brand new duo Silk City consisting of two multi-award winning DJs, Mark Ronson and Diplo, as well as performances from English indie-pop band London Grammar, and agit-pop international singer M.I.A. Fresh off of last years performance at BoomTown Fair at Matterley Bowl, Winchester, M.I.A certainly did not disappoint. With fan-favourite tracks such as ‘Paper Planes’ and ‘Bad Girls’ encouraging an ever so powerful crowd sing along, it was in fact that of M.I.As mention of the shambles of the political landscape across the world that only encouraged the sense of unity without making her performance just that bit more important and powerful. As well as performances from the current music landscape, Bestival still transported everyone back in time to the 80s and 90s through performances from Chaka Kahn and the oh-so eccentric Grace Jones on the main stage. And if that wasn’t enough, opening night saw Mercury Award nominated Jorja Smith take to the Big Top at what was a seemingly late night slot but did nothing but have the entire crowd in awe. Playing hits from her recent debut album ‘Lost and Found’ as well as a cover of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’, Jorja sent the crowd into overdrive with hit after hit. It was then that she ended the first night with a semi-acoustic version of ‘On My Mind’ which then broke down and played the original version of the singers debut single with Preditah. It certainly became a performance that didn’t leave the minds of all who witnessed for the rest of the weekend.
One of the most touching points of the weekend was through the projections on the side of the beautiful Lulworth Castle that were reminiscent of the past 15 years of Bestival. The projections took us on a journey through the years of Bestival bringing us back to the fun themes of Desert Island Disco and HMS Bestival that were accompanied by musical tracks including ‘We Are Sailing’ by Rod Stewart which had the entire crowd swaying arm in arm. Alongside this wonderful asset to the weekend was an end performance that well and truly encaptured the whole of the site. Fans were treated to a highwire and tightrope performance that included walking over fire and doing a headstand on the ultra-thin wires with little to protect them from falling. It was a truly magical end to the almost perfect weekend.
So in spite of the prolific downer put on the weekend from the rain and cancellation of sister festival, Camp Bestival, it was safe to say that Bestival well and truly nailed it yet again. With the sense of comradery almost obvious without, the weekend really took us back to the days where it won ‘Best Major Festival’. The stage design was well thought out and certainly creative, all performers felt at one with their audiences, and with the heat from the high 20’s the whole weekend was a joy to be a part of. With explosions of the World’s Largest Confetti Cannon multiple times throughout the weekend, Bestival is well and truly back and certainly bigger and better than ever.