First Night: Bestival, Isle of Wight

Teen spirits and ghost stories at Bestival's costume drama
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The Independent Culture

The UK's festival season was put to bed last night at the Isle of Wight's Bestival, accompanied by the unlikeliest of lullabies from the dance-rockers and Sunday headliners The Prodigy. Fireworks erupted and a bonfire was lit behind the main stage at the end of The Prodigy's powerful set, offering a spectacular end to the weekend.

Bestival's founding father, the DJ Rob da Bank, celebrated its seventh and most popular year with the penultimate main stage slot, as night fell over the circus tents, castles, and treehouses adorning the site's hills and fields.

The event is as famous for its eccentric festivities as it is for its eclectic line-up, and the 48,000 festival-goers broke the record for the world's biggest costume party on Saturday, dressing up as everything from centaurs to oompa-loompas. Many of the bands got in on the act, too. Between beautiful renditions of radio favourites from the acclaimed album Sigh No More, the Mumford and Sons frontman Marcus Mumford told Bestival-goers: "I've been waiting to dress up as the three musketeers with my mates all my life, and you've given me the excuse."

The line-up was as varied as the costumes, with the king of the wobbleboard, Rolf Harris, sharing the bill with the jazz-funk legend Gil Scott-Heron, and The xx, who performed on Friday night fresh from winning the Mercury Prize last week. Theirs was a powerful and emotional set featuring their full repertoire of soothing modern classics in the massively over-subscribed Big Top tent.

The crowds also descended for Friday's headliner Dizzee Rascal, who wowed the crowds with a succession of jazz, soul and rock-infused pop hits including "Dance With Me" and his own version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

However, one band which surprisingly had no problem with overcrowding was the hotly anticipated Roxy Music, who deftly performed a string of anthems including "Love is the Drug" on Saturday night. Led by a dapper Bryan Ferry, fans found themselves with too much room to move for a band credited as an inspiration for post-Seventies pop.

Other surprises of the weekend included a rain-drenched, main-stage set from up-and-coming Oxford quartet Stornoway, whose melancholy folk ballads and Isle of Wight ghost stories managed to hold on to an audience of thousands despite the downpour. Famed for the single "Radar Detector", the American pop band Darwin Deez displayed far more talent than the popular single suggests.

The highlight of the weekend was a storming set from the American psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips. Taking to the stage in his signature inflatable zorb, the frontman, Wayne Coyne proceeded to roll out across the crowd of grinning, fancy dress-clad fans, epitomising the weekend with a trademark surreal performance.