Walking into Bestival, a four-day music festival on the Isle of Wight, for the first time felt reminiscent of walking into my very first big-girl sleepover. I remember the sheer excitement of having a whole night of lax parental supervision that would be filled with eating too much ice-cream, playing truth or dare and talking to that cute boy.

It was this feeling (x 1000) that welled up inside me at the sight of the thousands of tents, stages and festival-goers that make up Bestival. Suddenly I had the whole weekend to listen to amazing music, put glitter on my face and maybe even talk to that cute boy (some things never change). A world away from the grey streets of London, every inch of the Bestival grounds was crawling with colour and before the long weekend had even begun, I knew that I didn’t ever want it to end.

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Music festivals have long-since captured my fancy with their dedication to providing young ‘uns like myself the chance to forget about real life for a couple of days and devote every second to chasing that elusive music high. Bestival takes this one step further and provides a multifaceted approach to escaping reality. Every single experience at Bestival is geared towards the eclectic. From carefully selected food tents and trucks to booths dedicated to glittery face paint. There are even brightly painted urinals. It seemed like every decision made by creative director Rob Da Bank and his wife Josie was aimed to delight, inspire and most-importantly keep you firmly in the moment.

And what a fabulous moment that is!

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Like any good adventure, the first day of Bestival had me hauling my four bags clear across the festival grounds to the Wild Copse campsite. Wild Copse, being set apart from the other campsites, is quieter, cleaner and not so full of vomiting teenagers. It also has the amazing benefit of having access to fancy toilets and showers (I realized the benefit of this when I didn’t even have to touch my festival essentials of face wipes and dry shampoo the whole time). If you’re a touch older than the usual crowd and appreciate your peace and quiet, or simply just like to shower everyday, then this campsite might be for you.

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With my lopsided, retro (read: old) tent set up, I ventured out to get the lay of the festival. Having changed into a floppy hat and a tropical kimono- the theme for this year was Desert Island Disco – I was ready to have a cocktail and dance the night away to Outkast. I was also armed with the challenges that you lovely readers wrote in for me.

Over the course of the weekend I had to:

1. Find the most glamorous campers

2. Hug five strangers and document it (no stranger danger here!)

3. Find the best festival food (the Best-ival food?)

4. Find the three most popular costumers for the Desert Island Disco theme

5. Prove once and for all that girls know how to party harder than boys

In the (world’s most over quoted) words of Barney Stinson, Challenge accepted!

Although the sky was a little grey, the vibe was electric. Swarms of sequin-clad girls mingled amongst glitter-bearded boys and there seemed to be a different beat coming from every corner. In the days prior to Bestival, I had heard the festival being described as having lots of little microcosms. In simpler terms, Bestival does an amazing job at creating the perfect atmosphere for every musical taste. Like the smooth rhythm of reggae drums? Then let your dreadlocks down and head to the reggae roots stage. Wanting to fist pump to your favourite DJ? Throw on your sailor’s cap and head down to The Port. Bestival gives you the opportunity to stay firmly planted in your musical niche or branch out and discover some new favorites.

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Five minutes after venturing from my campground, I peeped into the Boutique camping area and officially completed the first challenge. These tents, yurts and tepees had carpeted floors, comfy beds and access to even fancier toilets and showers. This is true festival luxury, aimed at making every sore-backed, disheveled person walking past green with jealousy i.e. the perfect accommodation for a true travelette!

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With one challenge down, the rest of the day was spent basking in the few rays of sun that broke through England’s grey cloud, sipping on a cocktail (how British!), getting much-needed sustenance and feeling slightly offended at Outkast’s misogynistic set (lots of naked women, lots of objectification). Unfortunately it was a little more hell-no than hey-ya.
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tea toast
The next morning, the camp was heavy with the collective hangover of tens of thousands of festival-goers. There really is nothing like waking up to your next-door neighbor’s vivid description of his hangover, bowel movements and all. But in true Bestival style, a little bit of glitter covers up even the roughest mornings! Saturday at Bestival is the official festival dress-up day and trust me when I say that everyone gets in on the action.

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Some people were more creative, like the three gents below who were dressed as Steve Zissou, but by far the most popular costumes were:

Palm trees

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Some variation of a Hula Girl

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A mermaid (this girl also wins the prize for the bravest costume!).
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Other honorable mentions go to these two guys dressed as bedazzled Wilsons from Castaway.

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And how cute are these fancy dress wonders!

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Feeling pretty pleased with myself for completing the second challenge, I decided to get the most awkward challenge out of the way. I was going to hug some strangers. Luckily Bestival is renowned for its friendly atmosphere, a place where “it’s all about the love”, so it wasn’t that hard to get some hugs.
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Bestival jo fraser travelettes hugs

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And I know that this is not technically a hug, but I’m sure you will forgive me because this just happens to be Yannis from Foals. Perhaps he did remember me from our earlier intimate moment at a concert last year because look how excited he is to see me. What a legend.

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Bestival was bringing it in a big way and as I sat with my churros (which I declare to be the best festival food ever) listening to the absolutely blissful voice of London Grammar’s Hannah Reid, I thought it doesn’t get much better than this. With the dust rising from the crowd’s feet meeting the golden rays of the setting sun, never did that illusive music high seem so easily achieved.
The third and last day of Bestival passed by in a blur of intensity as people soaked up the last bit of fun to be had. With flowers, crowns and hula skirts looking a little worse for wear, Major Lazer had people dancing with their energetic (albeit very long) set. There was no room for the Sunday blues at Bestival as people rode the Ferris wheel, hung out in the ambient forest  and waited for the world’s biggest disco ball to be raised.
Oh, and did I really even need to prove that girls party harder than boys?

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As that majestic silver beast was hoisted into the sky, Bestival was over. I had danced to some old favorites, found some new favorites, hugged some strangers, met a musical legend, eaten some tasty food and covered my face in glitter. Love, peace and good times had reigned. Musical highs had been achieved. And I even talked to that cute boy.

Now time for that hard-earned restival!

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If you’re keen on checking out next years Bestival Festival, early bird tickets are now available on the TicketLine.

Jo Fraser won the chance to be our travelette Bestival reporter & attended the festival over the weekend of 4th – 7th September 2014. You can find her on her Dirty Paws blog and on Twitter & Instagram. All photographs by Jo Fraser.

Thanks for doing a top job, Jo!