Camp Bestival will bring fatboy, folk and fun for all ages
The headlines were announced this week, and there are plenty of heavy hitters. Superstar DJ Fatboy Slim, singer-songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man. Bewdley’s lead singer Becky Hill will carry the region’s flag, Dom Joly will lead comedy programming, while M People singer Heather Small will lead a song from the group’s favorite hits.
But while those are the names that will make headlines, da Bank – real name Robert Gorham – says some of the best moments come from lesser-known acts.
“Headlines tick three very strong boxes,” he says. “I think Becky Hill will appeal to younger audiences, everyone seems to like Rag’n’Bone Man, while Fatboy Slim is the hottest DJ in the world.
“But there’s a lot of depth under the poppy headliners, there’s a lot of leftist artists, with folk, punk, country, rock, grime and drums and bass.
“There are a lot of very good local artists, which I think is very important.”
Shropshire is well represented, with the Emma Linney Band from Shrewsbury, folk group Jonathan Day Collective and The Endings from Telford. Former Ellesmere College pupil Chris Hawkins, now a BBC Radio 6 DJ, will also perform.
Stourbridge rockers Ned’s Atomic Dustbin will also be in attendance, along with Britpop favorites Shed Seven, Scouting for Girls and Scottish rock duo The Proclaimers.
There will be DJ sets from Radio 1 and 2 presenter Sara Cox, Faithless, Jodie Harsh and Gok Wan.
The original Bestival took place on the Isle of Wight in 2004, then moved to Lulworth Castle in Dorset. Unlike most music festivals, it is firmly aimed at the family market, with an emphasis on children’s entertainment as well as music.
“Our goal is to get everyone dancing, whether you’re five or 95 or whatever,” says da Bank, who runs the event with his wife Josie.
“You could easily come to Camp Bestival and not go to the big music stages and have fun all day,” he adds. “There’s so much going on, there’s comedy, there’s drama, there’s the Extreme Bike Battles, with motorcycle stunt riders going through fires and BMX riders.
“We are really lucky to have this beautiful place, its lakes are ideal for paddleboarding and wild swimming.
“I think for people who’ve never been there, it’s very hard to visualize until you get here. But there’s something for everyone, from face painting to fairground rides, in going through building a giant wooden boat, which sounds amazing.”
Da Bank says he is attached to Bestival in Weston Park for the long term. He expects the four-day event to attract up to 30,000 visitors once established, but thinks 20,000 is a more realistic number for the first year.
“I’m very excited, the first time we came here we fell in love with the site, the lakes, you have the garden, it’s a beautiful site and we can’t wait to unveil our story,” he says. .
“We’ve stayed here about four times now, and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know much about it before. I obviously knew V, but I didn’t know much about it. It’s very difficult to find a festival site with gardens by Capability Brown. I think this is one of the best festival sites in the UK.”
Da Bank says he wanted a second festival site, as many people found it difficult to access the existing Bestival site on the south coast. He says he has no plans to add any more locations as Weston Park is ideal for serving the Midlands and the North.
He hopes this will attract more people to the area and boost the visitor economy.
“It’s not just a festival for Shropshire and Staffordshire, it’s for the Midlands for the North, for Scotland and Wales.
“We want to make sure people don’t just drive through Shropshire and Staffordshire and then go back to Manchester, Leeds or Scotland.
“We hope they stick around and explore the area, maybe go to Alton Towers, Ironbridge or Shrewsbury. I’ve done a bit, but you can’t wait to do more.”
There will also be a funfair for young people, yoga and judo for children, a children’s comedy and the science show Brainiac Live.