Wilderness 3rd - 6th August 2017
Rave Level 3/5
Family Friendly 5/5
Size: Under 15,000
Vibe: Foody, cultural talks, alternative therapies, mixed music
What to wear: feathers, sequins, glitter
Activities: Yoga, Meditation, Dance, Boating
Wilderness Festival is certainly an assault on the senses as any good festival should be. From talks on mindfulness to dancing until the early hours in the beautifully bonkers wooded valley, there is something for everyone.
The day time at this festival is equally as engaging as the night time. Spend it skipping around in the sunshine, rowing on/dive bombing into the lake and exploring the wellness village. Even if you’re not a die hard alternative therapies fan, you may find yourself trying new things. I had a go at everything from reiki, cupping and palm reading and the more I tried the more I wanted to explore. After achieving an overwhelming sense of wellbeing, it was time to throw this all out of the window and get bang on it.
This may start with an extravagant banquet lunch, ideal for large groups or for individuals or couples who want to meet some randoms and have some unpredictable conversation. This is followed by a stint of lying on the grass listening to live music with a bucket of champagne and inevitably rolling around on said grass with a friend when the rhythm really takes you - this happened to me during sound check.
Talking of music, the music line up is pretty mixed and can be quite random. Last year main stage heavy weights were The Flaming Lips, Crystal Fighters and Glass Animals. The year before the three headliners were Bjork, George Clinton (funk legend) and Ben Howard. I get the feeling that people aren’t there to listen to the music although you can usually find what you’re looking for. Once I was sat a bit frazzled in front of the main stage and ended up listening mesmerised to The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble from Berlin who play electronic music in an orchestra, it was quite something! There’s a speak easy stage with old time sounds where it’s great to let loose, stamp your feet and slosh cocktails from jam jars
After perhaps a change and what I call a ‘regroup’ back at base camp when darkness falls the senses come alive and it really is a beautiful place to be. Everyone gets into costume and heads towards the valley. Different nights have different DJs with completely different sounds but the valley is always heaving. Overhead lit up trapeze artists and aerial spectacles make their way between the trees. It’s quite something. The music in the valley never quite does it for me, it’s almost like it builds but then never quite makes it. It’s certainly still visually spectacular though.
This is certainly a festival for foodies! Hix and Raymond Blanc provide fine dining experiences with their luxurious banquets (you need to book in advance) and around every corner there is something to get you salivating, my favourite is the mac n cheese stall, I’d recommend truffle and bacon.
Some of my friends think this festival isn’t gritty enough for them. Indeed it may be a little prim and proper for the more ‘hard core’ festival goer, it’s popular with 'The Chipping Norton set’ and there’s a champagne and oyster bar and a spa. However after dark, the atmosphere changes somewhat and when you get down into the valley surrounded by writhing bodies in dazzling costumes, it’s not so prudish any more.
There are various options in Boutique Camping but the simplest option (the bell tent for 2 at £799) is more than adequate in my opinion. Just take eye masks as the tarpaulin means it's very bright when the sun comes up. I’d recommend the safari tents if you don’t want to woken up by the sunlight. They are nice and sturdy with beds and dark inside. Breakfast can be taken next to a string quartet which is ever so civilised and slightly surreal and there is a hair and make up bar salon in there for the girls as well as constant access to clean bathrooms and showers.
For Tickets: www.wildernessfestival.com