Like a great big apology from on high for drenching most of this summer's UK festivals, Bestival enjoyed (almost) unbroken sunshine this weekend, as the summer season came to a close with a last big party in the Isle Of Wight's stunning Robin Hill country park.
Of course, a bit of sunshine does not a festival make - so fortunately Bestival also boasted one of the most impressive line-ups of 2012 and a warm, friendly (and so damn attractive) audience as well. It's amazing how good strangers look dressed as dinosaurs and jellyfish under the blazing sun.
Arriving just in time to miss most of Jake Bugg, we catch the end of the rising star's set on the small Replay stage. For a new star and so early on the Friday afternoon, the audience for the youngster is enormous with crowds stretching so far back from the small hillside arena that Bugg was impossible to spot.
Later, at their only festival date of 2012, London trio The xx were truly exceptional in their sunset slot, providing a doom-laden set featuring hits such as 'Shelter' and 'Islands' alongside tracks from new album Coexist. The masters of uber-cool atmospheric pop proved an early standout, and one of the many reasons that Bestival stood out on the 2012 festival schedule.
Florence + The Machine headlined the main stage on the Friday night, and while the performance was fantastic, there were no real surprises as she performed tracks from Lung and Ceremonials. Her covers of Drake's 'Take Care' and Candi Staton's 'You Got The Love' are familiar to fans, having been part of her shows all year.
Later that night, Kindness proved the standout of the first day, performing tracks from his debut album World You Need A Change Of Mind. A collection of diverse, heartfelt pop, we'd love to see him pick up a Mercury Music Prize nomination later this week.
Shaking of the hangover on Saturday morning (whoever came up with the idea of taking Wagamama to festivals deserves a knighthood), Delilah kicked things off on the mainstage with a dreamy collection of tracks from her debut album, From The Roots Up under the blazing sun. The afternoon didn't kick off fully before Sister Sledge took to the main stage for a packed-out performance of hits from their back catalogue. For all the developments in electronica, rock and dance - you can't beat a bit of 'Lost In Music' to get a field of people dancing.
Watch Sister Sledge perform 'Lost In Music'
Azealia Banks cancelled her appearance, but the Big Top was still the place to be on Saturday afternoon with performances from The Other Tribes and Jessie Ware proving two of the weekend's standouts. Ware's performance was as flawless as it was effortless, with her singles 'Wildest Moment' and 'Running' two truly special moments for fans gathered under the cool blue canvas.
Watch Jessie Ware 'Running' from Bestival 2012
New Order's main stage headline slot put many younger bands to shame with the eighties band's relentless energy before thousands returned to the big top for Justice's hot, sweaty and very noisy DJ set, the highlight of which was an epic ten minute spin of their track, 'Stress' - although the tent was so busy there was little chance to dance.
Taking things a little easier on the Sunday, a surprise slot at the Psychedelic Worm by Four Tet was the perfect mix of blissed out beats and chilled vibes, as an equal number of people danced as did lay in the sun listening to the stirring sounds of Kieran Hebden.
As the final day progressed the weather took a welcome turn for the worse and the relief of cloud cover was evident on the sun-beaten faces of the still-partying Bestival goers. The cooler temperatures suited the spooky-goth pop of Bat For Lashes and event more so Sigur Ros, who played the event as their only UK date of 2012. A truly stunning set from the Icelandic stars, their set was a moving moment, and one that won't be repeated in the UK until their 2013 tour.
Despite the worryingly rapid descent into Sunday evening, the party showed no signs of slowing as more amazing live music filled the closing hours of Bestival 2012. The legendary Stevie Wonder drew thousands to his Sunday night headline show before a spectacular fireworks display, while Miike Snow and Friendly Fires kept energy levels high with two ferocious sets. Easing things slightly, AlunaGeorge treated us to some glorious ear-sex with their pounding r&b before finding ourselves dancing the final night away with the freaks, geeks and tranny chic of London club collective Sink The Pink. Perhaps the least said about the overnight drive from the Isle Of Wight back to London the better...
A non-stop blast of colour, costumes, paint and parties, is Bestival truly something special among the increasingly crowded and overly similar UK festivals. A mix of a carefully curated line-up and friendly, fun loving festival goers and this year graced by soaring temperatures and cloudless skies, Bestival proved the antidote to any sense of festival fatigue. If only more festivals could provide something so well thought out, unique and as much fun.