Bestival: How To Avoid Having A Mental Breakdown

Festivals are full of mud, shagging and questionable music. Bestival is no different, so here's our guide to surviving it all.
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Getting there

Like the duct tape onesie I wore at last year’s Bestival, the festival itself is incredibly hard to get in and out of. Your tale of tubes, coaches, ferrys, shuttles and treks could hardly fit into a Tolkein trilogy and then unlike the orderly queues of the polite Glasto crowd, or the fast moving mob of Reading’s louts, the queue at Bestival is positively glacial and messy. Unsurprisingly the curler-clad Essex girls, forty year old ravers with faces like melted babybels, half your school’s drama society dragging wheelbarrows of sequins, and posh totty lugging along backpacks of children, when combined have the aggregate organisational skills of a chest of drawers.

There is no queue as such, mentioned only in the now irrelevant shouts of ‘queue-jumpers!’ and funnelled into the festival in this fashion, you will end up waiting a bloody age. This is inevitable so you need to be prepared: Drink (but from a hipflask not cans, finding a portaloo is a more arduous task than The Lonely Mountain), have enough sandwiches to crush a cat, and prepare yourself some entertainment. I like boggle, some people like amphetamines. The queue is your oyster.


One of the best things about Bestival is that each campsite has their own little personal touches (including talk this year of one with an inflatable Lionel Richie’s head). Often campsites will have their own stages as well, such as Psychedelic Worm and Arcadia, so it is really good to try and see what’s going on to get as near the action as possible. Nothing is miles away, but the main stages are the sort of trek that in London you wouldn’t feel too guilty getting a bus for. If you have a chance, buy a programme once you get there, crack open a tin and work out an area that looks fun. “Oh but you must rush to get a space.” You’ve just waited five hours to get into a festival, if you are worrying about the wasted five minutes sat down choosing where you spend half the fucking thing, you deserve shin splints anyway.


Bestival is a leviathan of fancy dress and the sea creatures you will see dotted around the many campsites at this year’s nautical theme are the welcoming monsters of the spangly ocean. Do not pussy out, you will have a better time if you are in fancy dress and the memory of running through a campsite dressed like a gazelle is far better than just jogging through some tents in a pair of beer stained pyjamas. In fancy dress, you will find your inhibitions quickly fading away; it is just too difficult to take anything too seriously when you are dressed like a stingray.


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That being said two pieces of advice are 1) do bear in mind that you do still need to meander through crowds- your giant lobster costume might look great when sitting in your lounge, but by the time you end up actually hitting people that you would normally be hitting on in the face with a giant claw and had your tail trodden on by the entire crowd at Arcadia, you might just regret it. 2) Don’t buy drugs from anyone dressed as a sofa. Fool me once, sofa, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


Guidelines suggest alcohol cannot be carried into the arenas. Or, more fittingly, alcohol that is seen in the eyeholes of security cannot be carried into the arenas (a hipflask is a very wise purchase). Get some spirits in your system before heading into the main festival area, and don’t do what absolutely everyone does of chancing it with five cans of lager, and then upon its inevitable discovery at the security gate downing it only to spend your whole day drunkenly rolypolying to try and find a portaloo.


A comedown at a festival is never exactly fantastic. Your brain slowly shrinking as you sweat out 3 litres in your dewy tent, the scent of roasting burger fat in the air, and the screeches of ten teenagers who are all pretty sure that they are the first people to watch Family Guy. But Bestival offers some respite in this regard in the form of their ‘slightly wooded bit.’ Cool shade, nearby coffee vendors, no queues for water, and normally little cubby holes where no one notices if some poor idiot camps up for five hours until they no longer feel like death.

Avoid the Pack

I’m not sure what it is about Bestival, but it seems to host a particular breed of men who hunt the festival in packs, seem to turn up as‘Army men’ fancy dress regardless of the theme, and seem at all points to be on a stag do despite none in their company appearing to be a groom. They tend to hunt women down in these groups, and you will find yourself and your companions suddenly spinning in a tornado of Jagermeister scent and fist pumps. Whatever fancy dress you are in, expect to discover new sexual innuendos, and prepare for them to try and hold your hand and a burger at the same time.

This might sound quite unappealing but for an impossible reason (fourteen pints) their cocky charm can begin to appeal and quite often if your friend is already copping off with S.T.I Joe, your brain clocks up some very lazy pulling logic, and reckons it might not be the worst human in the world to have a cheeky fumble with. This is incorrect, these are the worst people in the world to have a cheeky fumble with. More often than not the shots they’ve been drinking since the morning will catch up to them precisely on the way to the tent and after tripping over one too many guy ropes they will lay on the floor vomiting cheese and crying about their girlfriend. Ladies, you might think you don’t need to be told this information and that you won’t end up wiping up tears and bile with a camoflague tank top, but you do need to be told: Avoid the Pack.

A departing hot dog

If you are getting a coach back two essential bits of advice. 1) It is up a winding hill, you have just destroyed your body in every way imaginable. Give yourself loads of time. 2) When you get there, there is a cafe selling hot dogs. This hot dog is the Elton John of the sausage world, except it won't bankrupt you.