Camp Bestival with tots

How easy is it to take kids to summer festivals? Josie Da Bank tells us the best way to enjoy them with tots in tow...

josie rob da bank

Josie Da Bank is married to DJ Rob Da Bank and together they hosted Bestival on the Isle of Wight in 2004. It's been running succesfully ever since, but when Josie had her children, Arlo, 7, Merlin, 4 and Millier, 3, she realised that parents wanted to keep the festival vibe whilst incorporating something more family friendly. And bang... Camp Bestival was born.

What is the most important thing to remember when you're taking kids to a festival?

It's important to choose a festival designed specifically for kids, otherwise you're not really going to have a brilliant time. Glastonbury, Bestival, V, they're all great fun but they're not designed around familes. I had Arlo after we had been doing Bestival for three years and decided it wasn't quite right for kids. This is why I set up Camp Bestival- so friends, family and anyone with kids could have the festival experience too.

How does Camp Bestival differ from other non-family festivals?

With some of the larger non-family festivals, the entertainment goes on for 24 hours which doesn't work for kids or parents. At Camp Bestival the entertainment stops at midnight and starts again at 9am. The early morning entertainment is the stuff designed just for kids. We've progammed the whole show around kids really.

Would you take someone along with you like a friends or grandparents to help with the kids so you can enjoy the festival?

If you are lucky enough to have grandparents that like camping it's perfect. I always have my parents or Rob's parents with me. The more of you there are to help with kids the easier it is.

How do you manage camping with kids- especially if you have really young ones?

It depends on how hardy you are! I would always try and take some home comforts with me- if the kids have cosy beds with their own duvets it's better. I always take crayons and paper so the kids are occupied- it also makes a nice slow start to the morning if they are! An iPad is always helpful. Especially if you have Peppa Pig on hand- it prolongs getting up... With very little babies, I'd take something like the Phil and Ted's carrier or a moses basket to sleep in. 

It's also a good idea to bring lots of blankets as it can get chilly at night. In the Boutique campsite at Camp Bestival there are Teepee's and Yurts with beds and sheepskins, if you can afford it. 

There is also 'Camping Plus' which takes the hassle out of camping as you buy your pitch with your ticket. The car park is really close so no hauling things and little kids for miles. It's great to know exactly where you will camp.

Have you had any bad festival experiences?

The first time I went with a two month old to a non-family festival, I went with lots of people that were a bit mad and drunk and I really felt out of my comfort zone. It's not good to mix both. I suppose because lots of people go without kids it just wasn't right for me with a baby. That's what's great about a festival designed specifically for families- everyone has kids, and you know there will be another baby crying three tents down so you don't feel bad at all.

How do you keep kids safe/not getting lost at a big festival?

There are lost children tents everywhere. If a child does get lost, we lock the gates so no-one can leave the festival. We've never lost a child yet! Security is amazing- they also always have a smile.

What is there to do for toddlers?

A huge section of the festival site is devoted to the little-uns with the Upper Kid's Garden on the lawn behind the castle giving them a bit of freedom to cavort and explore. There is a circus skills tent, a bouncy castle, bikes, go-carts and a seperate toddlers' area too. For breastfeeding mums there is the Breastival Mother and Baby chill out. There is also a huge 10 X 10m sandpit for under 5's. Little kids will love it. Mr Tumble and rasta Mouse will be there!

And for the grown-ups?

There are of course the bands on the main stage. Parents can still enjoy the bands as there are big trolleys kids can go in at night- wrapped in blankets, like a big cosy pushchair. There is also the BEST food line-up! Real ale and food better than lots of restaurants. There is the Young British Foodies tent which is a bit of a taste testing- great for adults. There is also the Guardian Spoken Word tent which is very exciting.

How do you do Camp Bestival?

Well, as we have to be there for two weeks (with Camp Bestival the middle weekend) we stay in a house round the corner and move to the site for the weekend. We treat it like a giant family holiday, with grandparents (both sets) in tow.

Are you happy camping then?

In our garden at home we have a Yurt where we will often all sleep in the summer. It's lovely to be out there round a summer fire. We have a campervan as well so we're quite used to being happy campers!


Camp Bestival takes place at Lulworth Castle, Dorset 1, 2, 3, 4th August, 2013. For more information and tickets go to

 Josie Da Bank was interviewed by Nishan Brown

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