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Monday, September 03, 2018

Bestival: The Clue is in the Name

Monday, September 03, 2018

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Bestival 2018 (Sunny Stuart Winter)

What’s in a name? Novelty puns? Simple branding? Or perhaps one word that utterly represents exactly what an event has in store? Yes, that’s it!

2018 was my first taste of Bestival despite knowing of its grand reputation for years, not least due to its association with Music Industry legend Rob Da Bank. After years based in Isle of Wight, Bestival made its move last year to the Lulworth Estate in Dorset where its (younger) sister event ‘Camp Bestival’ resided.

And what a ridiculous part of the UK it is indeed. The festival aside, being in that part of the World again was a real joy. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by London’s concrete jungle, so when one finally finds the actual jungle (well… Dorset’s lush rolling green hills) it was like breathing in fresh air for the first time (probably because of London’s smog to be fair).

First Thoughts

Bestival 2018 (Sunny Stuart Winter)
I want to start off by thanking the amazing Bestival press team who were really wonderful before and during the event. I’ve been lucky enough to get invited to a lot of festivals, gigs and events over the years but it’s rare to be welcomed into the family in quite the same manner as Bestival did, so thanks team!

Bestival felt intimate despite it’s spacious grounds. It felt familiar, despite it being my first time, like I was going to be reunited with a whole host of my best pals to experience the weekend together.

Arriving on the Saturday, I would’ve firmly believed anyone if they were to say that attendees, in full circus get up (as was the theme for 2018), had been partying non-stop in their illuminating regalia since doors opened midweek.

The atmosphere was probably the most friendly I’ve ever come across at a festival. Carefree, constant laughs and a beautiful range of people from young to young at heart. The same could be said about backstage. Often, backstage can feel like a battle to one-up peers, but not here – perhaps it was the backstage Nandos.


I could talk about so many artists here (I won’t) but incredibly honorable mentions must go to Grace Jones (who I knew was going to be great but really blew me out the water), First Aid Kit (who’s impassioned speech calling out sexism really connected) and Chaka Khan (because, I mean, it’s Chaka Khan).

Months have passed but I am still talking about 2 artists: M.I.A and Plan B.


I remember the moment I heard Zane Lowe playing ‘Bird Flu’ (taken from M.I.A’s album ‘Kala’) on his Radio 1 show and I instantly HAD to know EVERYTHING about this M.I.A artist because it sounded like hearing music for the first time. Truly addictive. And that is how I would probably sum up my complete fanboying of Maya Arulpragasam.

Some 12 years of M.I.A being one of my favourite artists of all time and I was finally getting to see her live. I snuck to the front of the crowd (really easily for some reason) and felt like I was attending my first gig again. The stage show, the lights, the anticipation, seeing Maya in the flesh for the first time. It made for one of my favourite live experiences of my life.

When M.I.A stares you out for about 10 seconds, pretty much crowdsurfing on top of you, you feel like there is no-one else around you. That probably sums up how much I crush on M.I.A. I should probably feel embarrassed for being so candid but it is perhaps this level of connection to the artist and their music which is the beautiful thing surrounding the arts and exactly what we all love about artists spilling their guts through song. I captured that connection on film (above) and have relived it oh so regularly.

Plan B

Plan B at Bestival 2018 (Sunny Stuart Winter)
I first saw Plan B live in ascendency, touring ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks’ release, taking it to monumental heights - now having sold over a million copies in the UK alone, before ‘Ill Manors’ further raised his credibility.

It’s often tough to see an artist, having had great success, take to a new direction and not quite hit the same heights. Some, certainly in the Industry, might call that failing but after leaving the limelight for many years, Plan B (real name Ben Drew) should be praised for producing the art he wanted to produce, for it would be exceptionally easy to merely aim to recreate Strickland Bands for the quick win.

I spent a lot of time with Ben backstage, initially talking about his brilliant interview with LBC’s James O’Brien on his ‘Unfiltered’ podcast (really recommend you listen here) which really connected to me, moving on to talk about art and growth, where Ben spoke candidly to me in private about it.

What amazed me most about Ben was not his resilience, his character or charm, but how unbelievably down to earth he was. Growing up ‘down the road’ from where I live now (in Forest Gate) and still around the area, Ben has donated money to the school he went to, ensuring they have good music equipment as an outlet for the youth.

We talked about growing older, responsibility, how your priorities change and life after Bestival. It was evident that Ben has been through a lot, learnt from it and matured to near-Monk-like serenity. Really hoping to catch up with him again sometime soon and urge you to support him and his music – he truly is one of the good ones and we’re lucky to have him!

Bestival 2018 confetti (Sunny Stuart Winter)

In closing

I’m well aware of how lucky I am to attend festivals and have the lifestyle that I do. It is something I could never imagine when I was younger but I’m so fixated on sharing the truth, the knowledge and delivering any positivity to others that I can, especially to upcoming musicians or music professionals. I know how hard it is to get into this business, I know how hard it is to find the right people to connect with and I know many passionate people quit before they get their chance in music, so while I get the opportunity to do what I do, I promise to always share every ounce of advice or behind the scenes story as I can – it’s the least I can do.

Photos and videos from Bestival are up on my Instagram, I will always share content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to give a glimpse of what’s behind the magic curtain, whether good or bad (it’s often not as glamourous as you think it is) but in the case of Bestival, there’s not a bad word to be said.

If you have any questions about Bestival or the work I do, I am always up for conversation by message, email or in person, so don’t be a stranger.

Bestival is long gone for 2018 but I’m sure preparation for 2019 has already begun and I can’t recommend Bestival enough to you. Not just the incredible lineup of music or the fancy dress theme or the beautiful scenery but for the community of people, the air around the place, it’s exactly what you wish a music festival could be and more.

Bestival - the best festival, so see you there in 2019 yeah?

Until next time…

Bestival: The Clue is in the Name - Sunny Stuart Winter


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