Josie da Bank is the Creative Director & Producer of Camp Bestival, the Dorset family festival she launched in 2008 with her husband, Rob da Bank. Here, the mother-of-four chats to Amy Hopkins about how to survive festivals with kids, what to expect at this year’s Camp Bestival and how to keep the kids happy during the long summer break.
You’re just back from Glastonbury festival! How was it?
It was brilliant! We took three of our four boys, including the little one. I’ve been going for 25 years, so it was really special to see it through fresh eyes. It was amazing to see the kids’ reactions to the scale of the festival, the creativity, the way it looks and the people. My thirteen-year-old was absolutely blown away and said it was the best weekend of his life. He was smiling the whole time, and he’s quite hard to please.
Did your boys enjoy the music too?
We watched Stormzy, and he was a perfect artist for the boys to watch as their first Glastonbury headliner because they absolutely love him. That was a really nice family moment.
What are your top tips for parents taking their kids to a festival for the first time?
Don’t have loads of expectations about what you want to see. Just go with the flow. And make sure you are armed with the right kit – hats, sunscreen and warm clothes – because when the kids are miserable it can ruin everything. Just do a little bit of prep.
I created Camp Bestival for my kids, so they’ve all been there from birth, camping with me. I did Glastonbury with my son Miller when he was four weeks old because I couldn’t leave him and it’s been fun every time. The boys have thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Have you got any festival camping hacks?
Put effort into carrying the stuff that makes everyone comfortable and allows everyone to have a good night’s sleep. Make sure everyone’s got a good airbed or a mattress – it really does make a difference!
Tell us about the new Wild Tribe field at this year’s Camp Bestival.
Wild Tribe is down in the valley and it’s all very earthy and natural. It’s not really laid out like a traditional festival. It’s all about playing with natural materials and enjoying screen-free time.
I wanted to do something new and creative. I’m really into just playing outside with the kids – not really having loads of toys to play with, just getting stuck into nature and being with nature. It’s a bit of what we do at home.
What about this year’s festival are you most looking forward to?
Building a nice, safe environment for everyone to enjoy and being with family and friends. A particular highlight will be the cardboard castle. It’s going to be amazing because it’s so big this year. And I think the dressing-up theme is really fun, and the flower lights are always lovely.
What inspired this year’s dressing-up theme, Heroes vs Superheroes?
Robbie and I were batting around ideas and I loved the idea of normal superheroes. Everyday heroes just seemed to make sense, and we had quite a tricky year last year so it felt quite apt to have a hero theme.
What’s your advice for families coming to Camp Bestival this year?
I recommend that families try and spend some time in the area before or after the festival. Dorset is simply stunning. All the beaches, coastlines and hiking there are just lovely. It seems a shame to come and see the shows at Camp Bestival and then leave again.
What will your family do after the festival?
We’re going to go on to Cornwall and hang out there with some friends and do very much the same as you could do in Dorset. We’ll go to local beaches and the boys will take their mountain bikes.
With the school summer holidays on the horizon, do you have any ideas for mums and dads looking for affordable ways to have fun with their kids this summer at home?
For me, it’s about keeping it basic, because it gets so expensive when you start thinking about things like days out in London. It’s about finding somewhere close-by that’s natural, like a waterfall. Well, actually it’s quite hard to find a waterfall! But just pack a picnic – get the kids to make the picnic! – go on a bike ride, play rounders, see your mates. Get on the water, get in the sea with them. Even if you hate water, just do it! It’ll be a laugh to see mum screaming as she gets into the water! Crabbing lines are really cheap and fun. There are so many things that don’t cost money and are just about putting a bit of effort in.
What other plans do you have this summer as a family? Will you be going away?
We’re going to Greece because Robbie’s DJing there, we’re going to Peligoni, and we might go camping in France mid-August, but I’m not sure yet. I actually quite like staying at home.
Bestival takes place on 25th to 28th July 2019 at Lulworth Estate, Dorset. Tickets are on sale now via campbestival.net/tickets or by calling 0844 844 0444