Bestival was a Festival that was held on the Isle of Wight until 2016. Once a year Brading Down was transformed into a musical, magical Wonderland. It was a delight even before the Festival started, driving past the site and seeing stages and circus tents appearing where once there was only fields. I was lucky enough to be able to photograph Bestival from it’s second year, then when Chris and I met, he joined me. Over the years we documented everything from huge international acts and vast groups dancing to quiet moments in the woods to a huge robotic spider. There was never a moment at Bestival where there was nothing to photograph and the September light was always glorious.
As well as collections of photos from different years, we have collated a documentary photobook called Clap your Hands. The photos from this book do not appear in these Bestival blogs, but more about the book can be found on our personal page. It is hard to express how lucky we were to photograph this evening, we were able to experience so much amazing music and revelry surrounded by our friends and family. Every year at the beginning of September, when we drive along Brading Down, we look down at the empty fields and we wish for Bestival.
It snowed in the Winter of 2013, that’s a pretty rare event on the Isle of Wight. I only mention this as it gave me the chance to drive down to Bestival site and photograph the famous Wishing Tree in the snow.
This was the year that the Dance area became HMS Bestival, a giant ship with mermaids on trapezes flying high overhead. Elton John played on the Main Stage and Lionel Richie’s Head made a starring appearance. We brought a tripod with us and spent a good part of one night shooting long exposures of some of the quieter areas. Mark King of Level 42 judged a dance competition in the Spiegel tent and a giant water slide appeared near the bandstand. Forever quirky.