Caravanserai: Camp Bestival & Bestival

Caravanserai is the festival within a festival that appears at Camp Bestival at Lulworth Castle in July, and Bestival at Robin Hill Country Park in September each year. This was the fifth year Caravanserai has appeared at Bestival, and the fourth year Bailes + Light have looked after the site electrics and lighting design.

Born out of the imagination of artist Pete Bateman, Caravanserai is constructed entirely of old caravans and Victorian fairground rides.  A cocktail bar and vegetarian café keep revellers topped up whilst they dance to tunes by the likes of Immigrant Swing, The New York Brass Band and Cut Capers. The antics of internationally renowned troupe Cirque Bijou keep the audience entranced all day and well into the evening.

We’ve been lighting Caravanserai for a number of years, and whilst the theme stays the same, every festival is different. And bigger!

This year we advanced up the bill and moved into the main field at Bestival, giving the Main Stage and the Big Top a run for their money. This season Caravanserai consisted of seven caravans and five hoopla seating areas, a hoopla café, a shooting range cocktail bar, a hearse DJ booth and a waltzer stage, not to mention a ton of other curiosities and interesting oddities to keep the audience amused.

A specific challenge that Caravanserai poses in a mix of internal and external spaces, is the use of many old and frankly condemned lighting fixtures. Each of these lights has to be stripped down and rebuilt to meet current electrical safety standards, but are integral to maintaining an authentic look and feel of the space. In addition to the practical lighting, a splash of stage lighting is used both on the stage and to light the circus performance. Finally, we hide LED floodlights in the set to add a little pop where there would otherwise be dark corners. It all adds up to a bright colourful carnivalesque feel, and we’ve often heard that it’s peoples favourite venue on the circuit.