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The trials and tribulations of a festival organizer

  • Rob da Bank is a DJ and organizer of Bestival and Camp Bestival festivals
  • Describes starting Bestival in UK as a 'happy accident'
  • From Amy Winehouse to Kraftwerk, he explains his best and worst festival moments

(CNN) -- A "tricky" Amy Winehouse, disgruntled crowds and torrents of mud washing away tents, Rob da Bank has had to deal with them all.

The British DJ turned festival impresario is the man behind the Bestival music festival and despite the challenges of putting on the annual event, his love of festivals remains undiminished.

Bestival was "a happy accident" says Rob (real name Robert Gorham). He explains that he fell into first putting on the event in 2004 as his weekly club night in a pub in South London grew in popularity and requests for bigger and longer events increased.

Bestival now attracts 50,000 people and top acts -- this year The Cure are the headline band -- and is one of the most popular events in the musical calendar.

Amy Winehouse was tricky; she was right in the thick of all her troubles.
--Rob da Bank, DJ and Bestival curator

For three days each year the invasion of the sleepy Isle of Wight off the south coast of England by bands, fans and leftfield festival attractions increases the island's population by over 30 percent.

A desire to get back to the "boutique" feel of its earlier days lead to the birth of Bestival's little sister, Camp Bestival, in 2008. It's a much smaller and more family-friendly affair, but at the heart of both events is Rob's desire to put on "a good fun party with a top musical line-up."

CNN talked to Rob da Bank about his best and worst festival moments.

What was your first festival experience?

"Glastonbury about 20 years ago, in 1991, I think. I was 18. It wasn't like I grew up in the back of a tee-pee or was a hippie child taken around festivals. I was a student and it was when Glastonbury was really exploding. It really changed my life, which sounds like a cliché, but it opened my eyes to a completely different kind of life. I knew I always wanted to go to festivals and it's a total part of our lives now."

What's your favorite festival memory?

"There are so many things; from getting engaged at Glastonbury to opening the gates at the first Bestival to Kraftwerk headlining a few years ago. Sorry, that's three and not one."

What's your worst festival moment?

"It wasn't awful, but the most tricky and stressful was the wet year (in 2008), when we had ten inches of rain in a day, the most rain the Isle of Wight had for 100 years. It was a struggle and we kept it open and everyone seemed to get through it just about. Those things test you and you come out stronger."

What's been you favorite act?

"In terms of at Bestival, as well as Kraftwerk, Beastie Boys put on an amazing show a few years ago. They were incredible. They actually played two shows and were there all weekend. I love it when acts stick around and actually become part of the festival."

Who was the most difficult performer you've had to deal with?

"Amy Winehouse was tricky; she was right in the thick of all her troubles and she was very late getting on site and there was a lot of tension in the crowd as to whether she would turn up or not. She had to be shuttled off the island in a blanket with two security guards. There was a lot of cloak and dagger stuff and it was just funny hi-jinx."

What do you always take to a festival?

"A wife is a good way of keeping a lid on things, because I get over-excited at festivals and run riot from the moment I get there. Festivals now start on the Thursday or Friday, so if I'm not tethered I'll peak on the Thursday lunchtime and miss the weekend. So Josie da Bank is an essential.

"Apart from that a bin bag; it can be a sun shade, a water-proof, something to take your rubbish home in or something to sit on in the mud."

Do you have any favorite non-music festivals or ones you'd like to go to?

"I've been to the Hay-on-Wye festival, literary festivals and umpteen carnivals and village things in France and Spain. I'd love to go to the tomato festival in Spain or some of the more non-music crazy offerings. I'm going to KaZentip in Ukraine... it sounds fairly off the hook so I'm looking forward to that."