Established in 2011, Wilderness Festival is a relative newbie in the festival world, but has fast become a summer favourite among the hipsters and their families. Arguably the closest thing the UK has to Coachella, the vibe is boho chic and beautiful people – Cara Delevingne is among its regular ravers – and relaxation is prized as much as revelry.
Of course it helps that founders Secret Productions have the experience of award-winning Secret Garden Party and Lovebox under their belts, making Wilderness a slick and accomplished festival beyond its years. A like Latitude in miniature, it offers chillaxation with luxurious frills that celebrates the arts and outdoors in an ancient landscape of the parkland of the Cornbury Estate in the Cotswolds.
Wander often, wonder always is the dictum for this year’s festival, and there’s plenty of opportunities for both. Kids can make like Pharrell and find their ‘happy’ with creative workshops from cool comic-makers, Anorak, and walk on the wild side with the Artful Badger. There’s even an on-site postal service where a friendly chap on a bike delivers missives and postcards.
This festival is also known for being “a celebration of the arts and outdoors in the wilds of England” (yes, the – extremely elegant – wilds of England do still exist!). There is also a very set number of child, adult and camping tickets sold to this event to ensure a careful balance of guests.
Musical Maestros Highlights include Bjork, Ben Howard, George Clinton, Parliament and Funkadelic, Roisin Murphy, Mick Mulvey, Nils Frahm, Caravan Palace, Hercules and Love Affair plus many many more.
Featured Fun The Saturday Night Spectacle has become a well-loved Wildnerness instution with its tradition of the tradition of largescale communal awe. This year stars La Fura Dels Baus, a Spanish theatrical group based in Barcelona, who will combine acrobatics, athleticism and theatre to create a ‘Human Net’ which will be rise up into the night sky. There’s more high-flying antics at the Gorilla Circus Aerial Spectacular, or watch The Marawa Majorettes, the World Record Holding Troupe perform their hula hoop wiggles. She of the fancy headband is in tuneful mood with Alice Adventures in Wonderland by Opera Holland Park, while there’s a chance for some skullduggery at sea with screening from National Theatre Live Treasure Island. Angel Gardens is another magical arena for the whole family with night-time campfire stories, a fire show, plus craft workshops where you can make fabulous things like fizzing bath bombs and how to have fun recycling junk. And for sheer wit, how about When Dinosaurs Woolled the World, billed as ‘off-road knitting for the bold and adventurous’ for the chance to knit your own diddy dino.
The Zones The Wilderness Stage; The Pandaemonium Stage (for DJ sets); The Styx Stage (with brass bands, samba beats and Balkan bands); The Secret Forum and Intelligence Squared (for debates and forums); The Club House, large outdoor space with five-lane athletics track for sports and games, including volleyball; synchronised dances; Giant Scrabble; rounders and badminton; The Theatre Space; Wilderness Screen; Wilderness Orchestra; The Lakeside Spa; The Sanctuary; Hunter Gather Cook; The House of Fairytales and The Village Hall amongst others.
- Storystock will comprise a large section of the kids area with a large den for storytelling, poetry, songs, magic and fairytales. A beautiful café with cake and a late night nook for kids to listen to audiobooks and watch some tailored cabaret especially for little ‘uns.
- Mr Fox might be fantastic but the Artful Badger can rival his creativity. The Wild Workshops program are designed to engage participants with the wild, untamed side – possibly easier for some than others – with a mix of music, mask, meditation, dance, theatre and circus workshops.
- Obligatory face and body painting comes courtesy of Squiggles & Wiggles, who create celebratory colour and sparkle. Catch their roaming artists and paint the festival (and little faces) red and every other hue.
- Join the V&A workshops taking inspiration from fairy-tales, myths and legends to conjure up fantastical family-friendly workshops for all ages. The invitation is to create a piece of costume that can be as wild as your own imagination – come and embrace your inner wolf, fox, crow or owl.
- The Rhubarb Theatre will take the Wilderness Stage delivering a creative and original theatrical experiences to kids age 3 plus. They will also be roaming the site with their rickety handcart library filled with books.
- Enjoy Ping Pong Tournaments and test your skills on the table, or watch the craziness of the annual Wilderness Cricket Match (be warned: it may involve streakers). Other family activities include Capoeira and Croquet East.
- Potter with Kite Studios and their popular Create in Clay workshops, making everything from pinch pots and modelling to throwing on a wheel.
- Enjoy feel-good fun and frolics from the Flying Seagulls, a family of circus performers whose mantra is “Non-profit, pro fun”
- There’s also boutique babysitting, courtesy of Mortimer Nannies, providing Mary Poppins’ childcare
Chill Out Time Practically a festival within the festival, the Sanctuary at Wilderness, dubbed ‘the Holistic Heart of Wilderness Festival’, is run by two mothers Colette Crespin and Claire Hamilton of Wild Wellbeing and is dedicated to relaxation and rejuvenation of body and soul. Kick back and relax with an A-Z of therapies (pre-bookable online) by highly qualified therapists as well as top complementary health consultants. This year’s partners include Neals Yard Remedies, Yoga Matters, Teeki Yoga, Eco Towels and Pukka Tea. Within the pretty tented village, there’s a 44ft Yoga Yurt, and Meditation Pod, along with workshops and classes. To get you glowing inside and out, enjoy a Pure Pamper Zone for full beauty MOTs with solar showers, a wood-burner sauna, spray tans and glitter showers, hair styling stations and a nail bar.
Dining Tables French charmer Raymond Blanc, of Le Manoir au Quat’ Saisons, heads the star line-up of chefs creating long-table banqueting this year, along with Angela Hartnett and Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt, founder of the Michelin-adorned Ekstedt restaurant that uses only a fire pit or wood-fired oven to create unique dishes. There’s also Chef’s Tables with Nuno Mendez, Scott Hallsworth, Neil Borthwick and James Knappett, plus Moro Feasts and Hix, plus Wilderness Cookery School with Daylesford, which hosts special Mini Melans masterclasses for under-16s.
Happy Campers There is Family and Quiet camping, as well as Boutique Camping, which offers a selection of tipis, tents, touaregs, lodges, as well as a series of sold-out-for-2014 options including huts, yurts, Blue Bells, Squrts and, erm, a luxury bus called Beryl as well as separate access to the festival site, luxury toilets and showers and a chill-out area. Boutique camping visitors are also greeted by the boutique barrow boys, who are on hand to take their luggage. Prices for the full weekend with family-sized accommodation for four starts from £900 for a field tent, £1.025 for a yurt; £1,100 for a tipi; and a lodge from £11,575.
THE PRICE TAG
Full Weekend Adult (18+) £175 | 11–17 years £83.50 | Under-11s, £5
Photography Credit: Wilderness Festival
*** Want to see more family-friendly festivals for 2015. Check out our 12 We Love… Summer Festivals round-up ***