Ah Bestival, what to say… You were beautiful, fun, gorgeous, sassy, eclectic, immersive and impressive. 

I rolled in Saturday afternoon to the new site at Toronto's Woodbine park expecting a good time, and was genuinely inundated by the festive atmosphere. From the free high 5s after the entrance gate, to the plethora of tasteful, thoughtfully-curated food trucks, drinks and cocktails at long bars, to the detailed decor throughout the site with its gorgeous flags and custom stages, to the games and inflatable church. Boredom was out of the question.

Four stages to satisfy diverse musical tastes dotted the venue, along with Bestivalites adorned in fancy dress and more conventional summer couture.

(photo: Stevie Gedge - Bestival)

A splendid day provided the perfect backdrop, a living canvas for the art unfolding as this festival. I walked past the Big Top tent and its electronic vibe and followed the open path through sparse trees to a distinct groove emanating from the monumental Bollywood Stage with Gaiser at the helm. 

Such a wicked outdoor party with the crowd bumping to the nicely dialed sound system. From there I wandered over to the Main Stage where an energized Jamie xx lit the crowd, before heading back to Bollywood for Art Department’s deep bass. The sun was setting as Maya Jane Coles brought it home with her powerful groove.  

Over at the Main Stage to close out the night, Tame Impala’s resonant sound was ethereal and tight musically with impressive instrumental arrangements.

Under the half moon, Bollywood’s awe-inspiring structure became mesmerizing, with a spectrum of light emanating from its temple design, embellished with animals, lasers and flames.

Maya weaved from staccato melodic tracks to classic bass lines, to vocal then back to techno’s more dark, driving groove. I was at that stage when the night came to a close, and as if on cue, the winds picked up, like the music ending was the sign that the weather could have its way again. But for Day One, it was hot and perfect. 

Sunday was like more dessert after you’ve already had dessert. Bouncing from Lee Foss’ bouncy tech house and the party at Bollywood, to Grimes’ animated, electro pop indie set on the Main Stage, I ran into this full-throttle percussion-laden musicycle on the way - it’s like somehow there’s always an adventure, never a basic walk to the next thing.

A spectacle of fun, dance, games, trippy pursuits and off-the-wall pop-ups amidst the musical tapestry, the atmosphere was carefree.

The Sunday Best Balearic Bar, somewhat sequestered and surrounded by pine trees on a grassy knoll, provided a quaint, chilled-out atmosphere for those seeking that vibe. A stroll through the Cosmic Commune would take you past games, performances, sound healing workshops and onto the inflatable church. Bestival was a happy place to be.  

From my experience, transportation to the festival in terms of traffic and public transit was in flow, and much smoother than the ferry system last year. And although there was a rush at the end of the night packing streetcars, taxis and ubers, it was great to have more options from the mainland.

(I'm obsessed with the Bollywood Stage obvi.. and Increasing the Peace!)

It was easy to feel and see the love that was put into this festival. The founders are passionate about providing an incredible experience (you can see my interviews with Rob da Bank and Ben Turner here), and I was happy to have been there. The Summer of Love is in full swing and it was heavenly to ring it in with Bestival!

(A little art edit of my beloved Bollywood Stage <3)

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