Bestival review: Our favourite bits of Bestival 2016

Jimmy Coultas look back on a madcap few days on the Isle of Wight.

Jimmy Coultas

Last updated: 14th Sep 2016

Image: Bestival

There's few festivals on the planet that come with as much fun as Bestival. For over a decade the Robin Hill based event has been an emporium of good times, with fancy dress obligatory on Saturday - even if it feels like it is every day of the festival such is the fervour it's taken to.

This year's edition was no different, and despite a day of trying weather conditions a glorious sunshine drenched finale rounded off another killer few days on the Isle of Wight. Here's our round up of the bits we enjoyed the most about our time at Rob da Bank's carnival of greatness.

The Spaceport


The Spaceport. 🚀🚀🚀 #Bestival16

A photo posted by Bestival (@bestival) on

Bestival's fancy dress theme isn't just about the punters, it's usually backed up with a plethora of props and its own giant stage - this year that mantle delivered by a thoroughly impressive Spaceport.

It's essentially an excuse for the world's finest DJs to work alongside huge production for a massive rave, with a rocket and two giant spacemen augmenting a pyrotechnic and laser show that wouldn't be out of place at Tomorrowland.

The soundtrack was relentlessly good each time we ventured to it. A rollicking tribute to Prince during the Sunday sun, Riton blending cheeky edits of Abba with old school classics like Outlander's 'Vamp' and, best of all, Carl Cox in imperious form during his house classics set. 

UK Rap

There's plenty of debate about whether grime classes as hip hop or not, and we know it certainly ain't garage, but there's no doubt that this year UK emcees, whatever the music they've been making, have had a big year.

It was the same at Bestival, with grime superstar Skepta strident as he cavorted through a hit laden set that took in 'That's not me', 'Shutdown' and more.

A few minutes later and Loyle Carner was providing a completely different experience over in the Big Top with his mellower sound. He may favour a more introspective approach than the commanding arrogance of Skeppy, but both deliver abundantly on performance and enthusiasm - showcasing the depth of the scene right now.

Add in performances from the Eskimo Dance Collective, Krept & Konan, Newham Generals and Giggs, and it was great to see Bestival showcasing how well we're doing with the mic in Blighty right now.

The Human League

Find The Human League tickets.

The Sunday evening legend slot at Glastonbury is arguably one of the most feted performances of the festival season. However a few months later we witnessed synth pop superstars the Human League, who were making their own claim for the best example of nostalgia driven greatness on the Sabbath.

Their set was hands down our personal favourite of the whole weekend, a riotous blend of the kind of leftfield pop that endeared them to the nation three decades ago. The classics came rolling in, ‘Fascination’, ‘Love Action’ and a gloriously powerful encore which started with 1981’s Christmas number one ‘Don’t You Want Me’, replete with an extended intro hyping the crowd.

By the time a brilliantly epic rendition from Phil Oakey of his timeless collaboration with Giorgio Moroder, 'Electric Dreams', coursed through the speakers the crowd were in delirium. Add in Oakey's lavacious appearance rocking Ming the Merciless falling off the wagon and this was simply brilliant stuff, encapsulating everything great about Bestival. 

Being Young

To describe Bestival as a festival only for a younger crowd would be hugely wide of the mark, with pretty diverse demographics backed up by the presence of plenty of acts suitable for an older audience, not least headliners The Cure. And it certainly doesn't make you feel old f you're not lucky enough to being that bracket any more, this writer long enough in the tooth for the twenties to be a distant memory. 

Nevertheless this feels like an event that truly is fantastic for those under 25. The sheer scale of the fun on offer makes it an unrelentingly brilliant option for younger people. Losing yourself in the woods at night, the myriad of exuberant stages and decor and just the general vibe of silliness - it's very much geared to a glorious rite of passage offering, making it an essential bucket list event for any young festival goer. 

The Black Madonna

Find The Black Madonna tickets

We were excited about the prospect of seeing one of the most hyped DJs at present earlier in the month, excitedly claiming catching her at Bestival was one of the must see moments of September.

She didn't disappoint; by the time she brought her Sunday evening set on the Bollywood stage to a close with the ringing crescendo of intensity that is Roberto Armani’s acid house classic ‘Circus Bells’, we’d resolutely fallen in love with her.

What makes the DJ sets she is delivering at the minute so exciting is the simplicity of what they represent, just straight up house and techno from across the ages delivered with aplomb. It’s a 30 year-old formula but TBM brings a gritty swagger to the party, gilt edged grooves with a rawness that for ravers is as timeless as it gets.

Better yet she sweats and grinds more than anyone in the crowd, a furiously enthusiastic presence behind the decks that is simply impossible not to be sucked in by. Right now there's few DJs quite as essential as her.

Like this? Check out Festival no 6 review: six things we fell in love with in Portmeirion

Tickets are no longer available for this event

Festivals 2020