The last and quirkiest event on the summer music festival calendar is kicking off today with headliners Dizzee Rascal, The Flaming Lips and The Prodigy taking to the stage during the Bestival weekend.
A total of 50,000 music fans will head across to the Isle of Wight for the event which has grown in size and popularity since it was launched by Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank in 2004.
Also topping the line-up this year are Mercury Prize winners The xx who, as well as appearing on stage, created a sound sculpture of their album described as a “3D physical interpretation of their music”.
Other bands include Mercury Prize runners-up Mumford & Sons and Villagers, Roxy Music, Hot Chip, Echo & The Bunnymen and LCD Soundsystem.
The festival, held at Robin Hill Country Park, became famous for its fancy dress parade which this year is taking fantasy as its theme.
The organisers are also promoting the festival’s green credentials through initiatives including a solar-powered bandstand and an area called ‘Tomorrow’s World’ aimed at creating “new fun experiences where we could all envisage an inspired, sustainable, green and fun future”.
Prior to the festivities starting, 12 keen festival-goers swam across the Solent to reach the island to raise money for charity.
Rob da Bank also launched a charity called The Bestival Foundation aimed at helping the local community with its first initiative helping schoolchildren learn about water saving.
Hampshire police said the festival had a “good reputation” but officers would be on site to ensure the safety of revellers.
Drugs checks would be carried out on the gates and legal highs would also be banned from the festival site, a police spokesman said.
Insp Terry Clawson said: “The Bestival is now in its seventh year at Robin Hill and we work well with the organisers so the event can retain a good reputation for its safe atmosphere and friendly audience.
“Our approach is based on tried and tested principles of neighbourhood policing as the Bestival forms a temporary community of 50,000 people that presents similar challenges to policing any town or village.”