Going green at Bestival

Updated: Jun 3

As we launched our Green Traveller's Guide to the Isle of Wight AONB, this summer, Green Traveller headed back to Bestival to have fun in the sun on the Isle of Wight and find out about all the initiatives in place to help make it a greener festival

Colourful flags and solar-powered bandstand. Photo: Holly Tuppen

Every year, over 50,000 people head to Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle of Wight for a 4-day party featuring big headline acts and 88 acres of pure entertainment. One of the best things about Bestival, and its family-friendly younger sibling Camp Bestival, is that there’s something for everyone. Whilst difficult to leave the main stage, this year it became home to Stevie Wonder, Florence and the Machine, Orbital, New Order, The XX and lots more; it’s only when you go further afield that you see Bestival’s true colours. From raving in the Bollywood themed tent, lazing in hammocks dotted throughout the ambient forest, catching an old classic in the secret cinema, learning to waltz and getting involved in a political rap off, there was never a dull moment. And on top of all that, Bestival 2012 has to be remembered for the 4 days of solid sunshine!

Party revellers in the evening sunshine. Photo: Holly Tuppen

Unlike plenty of other festivals, the team behind Bestival and Camp Bestival seriously take on board the responsibility that comes with putting on such a mammoth event. A big part of that responsibility is related to the environment – minimisng the negative impact of thousands of people travelling to and living in fields for a few days, alongside using the festival as a platform for education and engagement. Here are some of our favourite green initiatives:


The Big Green Coach Company: Coach travel is approximately four times more environmentally friendly than getting in a car to go to a music festival. The Big Green Coach Company was set up to promote this fact and make coach travel to and from festivals easier and cheaper. In 2010, the total amount of carbon saved by people using Big Green Coach rather than car was 13,000KG - the equivalent of 928,531 boiling kettles worth of energy!


Tomorrow’s world: This year Bestival set up a whole field dedicated to inspiring and educating people about the importance of a green and sustainable future. The farmer’s market was the perfect spot to stock up on local goods including crab and chips, corn on the cob and BestiBrew Ale before checking out the acts on the solar powered bandstand. For anyone wanting to swat-up the Besti-versity tent featured talks from Greenpeace’s UK director John Sauven and WaterAid’s Sandy Stallen and, in the Science Tent, Keele University set up renewable energy demonstrations.


Tea for Trash: Unfortunately vast amounts of rubbish and festivals go hand-in-hand. However, Bestival does its best to keep the site tidy and recycles as much as possible. Every year each campsite has a central hub where a member of the Green Team will be ready to hand out recycling bags and give you a free cup of tea if you hand a full one back – so everyone’s a winner! Instead of bins, recycling stations are dotted around the site, making it impossible to throw things away without putting them in the correct recycling bin. The festival aims for zero landfill and ensures all non-recyclable waste goes to the Isle of Wight’s gasification plant to be converted from waste to energy.

Creative recycling at Bestival. Photo: Holly Tuppen

Local sourcing: Bestival makes a genuine commitment to source as much as possible from the local area including food traders, staging and sound equipment, staff, marquees and production vehicles. The Isle of Wight’s leading eco tourism organisation, Eco Island, helps out on this front and also provides the festival with solar-powered charging stations.


Whilst Bestival has plenty to boast about when it comes to green initiatives, individuals have to do their bit too. Next time you head off to a festival make your experience a little greener by travelling by public transport, taking a reusable bottle for tap water on site, using the compost toilets and taking everything away with you. Exploring a festival’s local area is also a good idea, giving you the chance to support the local economy and avoid busy transport times. If heading to Bestival next year why not combine it with some time on the Isle of Wight? Shuttle buses run from the festival to Newport, which being only 15 minutes away is a great little town to stock up on supplies or take a break from the hoards in a local café. If you want to spend a couple of days on the island once the festival has finished Newport’s tourist office and bus station will help you with transport. We wound down our festival experience on Sandwich beach sleeping in the sun, dipping in and out of the sea and munching on fish and chips – the perfect way to refresh and relax before heading back to reality!

Giant flowers on the lily pond. Photo: Holly Tuppen

For more reviews of Bestival 2012 and info about next year’s festival go to www.bestival.net. For information about Camp Bestival see our article Festival Fun on the Jurassic Coast


For more information about travelling to the Isle of Wight, check out our guide on taking the ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne or the ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth. 
Read also Greentraveller's guide to the Car-free scheme on the Isle of Wight and for package and coach travel contact the Big Green Coach Company.

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