Less than one month remains until the explosive, fancy-dress fuelled extravaganza that is Bestival returns to the Isle of Wight, led once again by Rob and Josie da Bank. With this year’s theme as ‘The Summer of Love’, the festival ‘returns to its roots’ in an embrace of its ‘original muses: Music, Freedom, Peace, Love and Euphoria.’
Part of what gives Bestival its colossal punch is its selection of headliners. Infused with a vibrant creative flare, these big-status bookings have historically caused seismic waves of excitement across the blogosphere, with Outkast, Stevie Wonder, Björk and The Flaming Lips all gracing the mainstage across the past half a decade. This year, the godfathers of techno – Underworld – will kick Thursday off in a predictably anthemic and arresting fashion, complemented by The Chemical Brothers who return to Robin Hill ahead of the release of their eighth studio album, promising an utterly immersive journey that traverses through their remarkable back catalogue into fresher material. Eighties pop-icons Duran Duran also join the bill for the Friday night slot, but bringing the festival to its knees is Sunday’s headliner Missy Elliott. For her first time in six years, one of the greatest MCs, songwriters and producers will grace a UK stage, bringing with her slick, bassy bombs like ‘Get Ur Freak On’, ‘Work It’, ‘Pass That Dutch’ and ‘Lose Control’.
Essentially, the heart and soul of Bestival thrives off the eclectic and the diverse, flaunting acts that push into vast arrays of musical corners; throw The Jacksons, FKA Twigs and Tame Impala together with Wiley, Sleaford Mods and Todd Terje and you but touch upon its vast assortment of live performances that are on offer. Amongst such major names, too, are a wealth of upcoming talents like grime pioneer Stormzy, the phenomenal garage-punk-meets-pop Girlpool and singer-songwriter SOAK. Even greater is the selection of DJs: Ben UFO, Joy Orbison, Four Tet, Hudson Mohawke, Seth Troxler, Daniel Avery and The Heatwave to name but a few, alongside classic Bestival alumni like David Rodigan, Annie Mac and the festival kingpin himself Rob da Bank.
For seasoned Bestival goers, many favourite features are set to return; prepare for some nautical insanity by the majestic HMS Bestival, non-stop beats provided by dance deities at The Temple, and countless culinary delights at The Feast Collective. Ever evolving, there are also plenty of new spaces to immerse yourself into. For those that need a little pick-me-up, brand new arena Slow Motion will help rejuvenate mind, body and soul with various wellbeing workshops, yoga and health foods, soundtracked by the psychedelic Kaleidescope Stage. Once recovered, The Commune – a special one-off area promised to be a home for ‘Hedonism with Heart’ – is there to provide the perfect ambiance to embrace all that ‘Summer of Love’ exultation under a nine-petalled, fifteen and a half metre pyro-installation. It's certainly intriguing.
Amongst so much else to experience – woodland adventures, fancy-dress parades, comedy and film sessions, even the bloody Chuckle Brothers – Bestival truly is home to non-stop hedonism. Place one of the most expansive line-ups of the festival season within the gorgeous rolling hills of Robin Hill and you have yourself one of the stand-out events of the year. We’ve been waiting all summer for this.