Into the Wilderness…

Wilderness 4

Wilderness Festival 2016

We are back home again after last week’s trip to the Wilderness, our fourth in as many years! We have been hooked on this lovely festival in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside since we discovered it in its third year in 2013, when it was a much smaller little affair. It has changed a fair bit since that first visit: it is now much bigger and much more structured, but still has such a lovely ethos of adventure, curiosity and fun.

To be quite honest, a trip to Wilderness Festival is far from a trip to the wilderness. With banquets cooked by the likes of Raymond Blanc, takeaway breakfasts from Petersham Nurseries, a Laurent-Perrier champagne orangery, an on-site spa, hot showers and the cleanest toilets ever seen at a festival, it is hardly an exercise in survival. But still, it is an enormous joy, not least because of the huge range of things you find yourself getting involved in.

Over the four and a half days at Wilderness, we managed to squeeze in: a yoga class, a circus acrobatics class, comedy and poetry sessions in the Forum, two Sunday Assemblies, a foraging walk with Alys Fowler, a spa session (with bonus gin and tonic), multiple veggie burritos, a cuttlefish silver casting workshop,  the Saturday night spectacle (featuring tightrope walkers on flaming tightropes!), dressing in a silly amount of glitter and gold lamé, and champagne and cabaret in the orangery.

You could almost forget you were at a festival at all when you entered the orangery!

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Zoe Williams in conversation with Charlotte Church in the Forum:

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Friday night’s treat was a headline set from Robert Plant, which was absolutely momentous and included some Led Zeppelin classics. On Saturday, we caught Laura Moody and her cello in the Odditorium after our spa session, which was fantastic as usual.

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Sunday saw the annual Wilderness cricket match, which was its usual glorious celebration of incompetent sportsmanship, drunk commentary, cucumber sandwiches, pauses to iron the crease, and, of course, streaking.

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Early Sunday evening saw the Wilderness choir’s David Bowie tribute: a performance of Space Oddity, followed by a headline set from the Flaming Lips, who were as joyful as when we last saw them back around 6 years ago, and who should win some sort of prize for dedication to bringing ridiculous inflatables on stage (balloons, a huge rainbow, a giant catfish…).

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We ended the festival dancing late into the night down in the valley, which has to be one of the most beautiful places for a rave up in the world – a deep gorge lined with ancient oak trees.

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Goodnight, Wilderness. I think we will see you again next year…

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Wilderness 2

Wilderness 5

Wilderness 3

Wilderness 1

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