Camp Bestival on the Cheap

camp bestival reading festival

Pre-kids, I loved a good festival. I started with the first ever V and ended with Reading, but camping with small (non-sleeping) children is hard in itself without the added extras of all night noise from over-excited revellers keen to share their drunken hilarity with every camper as they swerve into (and sometimes around) the sea of tents crowded on top of each other and fill the toilets with beer- and cheap burger-induced crap!

camp bestival lion

When I saw a few bloggers mention how family friendly Camp Bestival was last year, I began to wonder if it might be just the thing to ease us into festivalling with kids? But with ticket prices at £200 per adult and the cost of being there for 3 or 4 days on top, it seemed beyond our reach!

camp bestival james

The weekend before and it seemed as though my entire social network was talking about it and getting excited. To add to the temptation, one of my all time favourite bands, James, were headlining and my wife’s current obsession, Kate Tempest would be there too and it was seriously making me rue not spending the money. As we spent the week discussing how to spend Bear’s birthday to make it special the desire to go continued to gnaw away at me. We hadn’t spent much on presents and she doesn’t have many friends to warrant a party so well why the f*** not?! Let’s do it!

camp bestival caravanserai

Of course, by this point it was too late to buy tickets from the official channels, but stalking Gumtree and Stubhub for last minute sales eventually came up trumps – 2 adult tickets and 2 children tickets for £150 with parking! I emailed the seller and early the next morning they were mine! As an added bonus, while hunting I’d also noticed that someone was selling the camping upgrade tickets for £50 – a guaranteed pitch, decent toilet facilities and dedicated parking. As we knew we wouldn’t be there until Friday lunchtime at the earliest, when most people arrive 24 hours earlier this had to be worth the extra.

Overall, we saved more than £300!

camp bestival sunset

Once there it became very apparent this was the domain of the ‘yummy mummy’ – even the stalls included Joules, Jo Jo Maman Bebe and the gorgeous Me & I.  Nearly everything cost money and pester power makes it hard to resist – there was even the option to part with £2 to spend a penny if portaloos or compost toilets weren’t your thing!  This was festivalling for the Surrey set, but it was about as family friendly as it could get and the late night noise was kept to a minimum so the prep school majority had its perks!

And with some advance planning and preparation, reading blogs of those that had been before, it was possible to do it for less.

camp bestival dress up

We took our own face paints (as part of Bear’s birthday presents); I sweet-talked (and perhaps bribed with beers) the guys on the Mr Trolley stall and saved a fiver on their last weekend trolley hire. We took pasta and stir-in sauces and breakfast pastries to eat as well as crisps and fruit for snackage.  And lots of drinks of course!

camp bestival birthday cake brownie

We bought lunch from the Farmers’ Market which was cheaper than the commercial stalls in the tents next door but just as yummy – especially the wonderful chocolate brownies, that doubled up as birthday cake on Bear’s birthday there.

camp bestival dance

But most of all, we hung out as a family, enjoying the entertainment without stressing about being on time, getting to the front or missing things.

camp bestival umbrella

It really was a great weekend and I do hope we can go again. Although I doubt we’ll ever be as lucky as this year in getting it so cheap. Is it worth the money? Yes, I think it is. There was lots we didn’t do and it is a wonderful treat for the children, and for the mums and dads too. It is also a brilliant way to get a bit of a festival fix without the incompatibility that most festivals and children have. And if you go prepared, you don’t have to spend a fortune once there – although it would be very easy to do so if you have the means.

I hope to see you there next year – there is always the weekly payment plan option, if you like to plan ahead without the big outlay. Me… I’m just hoping for a payrise!