Ever since kicking off in 2004, Bestival has stood as one of the most unique and celebrated events of the British festival season. Standing out thanks to its mix of sounds and ability to foster a sense of adventure and escapism, Bestival makes the ferry ride to the Isle of Wight seem like the start of a sojourn into another world, and the 2016 event was just as impressive as we hoped.
Things kicked off well before the first note was even sung thanks to this year’s future theme. From glitter-clad Stormtroopers to glowstick-attired spacemen and a whole host of dystopian get-ups, the crowd was an energetic mass of fireball creativity, though the festival’s top acts this year were decidedly nostalgic.
It’s a bit trite to call the headlining act the biggest draw, but The Cure, who headlined for the second time in five years, really made the main stage their own on Saturday night. Despite having to navigate their way through epic downpours and sludgy mud, the crowds packed in to enjoy the band’s phenomenal two-and-a-half-hour set. Starting off with a few lesser-known tracks from the early 90s, Robert Smith and company utterly engaged with bouncy bass numbers like In Between Days and crowd-winners such as Friday, I’m in Love and Boys Don’t Cry.
The other most talked-about act at this year’s Bestival was The Human League, who took to the Big Top tent on Sunday night. Philip Oakey, Susan Ann Sulley, and Joanne Catherall delivered rousing renditions of Mirror Man and Tell Me When, then bought things to a stunning peak with the infamous Don’t You Want Me.
Then there was the much-publicised headline sound-clash between Sean Paul and Wiz Khalifa. Khalifa‘s battery of hip-hop classics turned on the crowd, but it was Sean Paul who people couldn’t stop talking about when Bestival had wrapped up for another year. The Jamaican superstar electrified with hit dancehall tracks such as Gimme The Light and She Doesn’t Mind.
The arenas were up to scratch this year, though more than a little disappointment was levelled at the overhyped Spaceport Stage. Meant to be a renovated version of The Port to fit around this year’s futuristic theme, the Spaceport didn’t quite live up to expectations, though it was closed perfectly by Fat Boy Slim.
Bestival 2016 turned out to be a place for old stars to shine. We’re definitely thinking that similar acts will be booked for next year, and we just can’t wait.