Wilderness Festival Preview

by PaulRiley
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on 08 July 2015 in Features

Rejoice, for the festival season is here again.  If you are like us here at S4M, you may well be hankering for something a little different - in which case we humbly point you in the direction of Wilderness Festival, winner of Best Activity Award 2013 (UK Festival Awards).  It is not your average weekend according to The Guardian, who describe it as '...a place where art, intellectualism and fantastic gastronomy share equal billing with music.' 

You have enough big names to shake a stick at.  Bjork, Ben Howard and the incredible sounds of George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic are headlining an impressive list of performers including ex-Portico Quartet man Nick MulveyRoisin Murphy and Berlin-based contemporary piano composer Nils Frahm.    

Deep South R&B and Blues is to be found at 'The Juke Joint' curated by theatrical company Petersham Road. 'The Carousel' is a spinning stage of big rhythms - gypsy, Balkan, electro-swing and samba sounds are brought to the festival by Shangri-La impresario Chris Tofu.   Folk Music in all its diversity is the concern of the 'Travelling Folk Barn', curated by folk crews including Woodburner, Two For Joy, The Local and The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EDFSS).  


Wilderness, however, has so much more to offer than live music. The 'Wilderness Stage', set off by a lake as a backdrop, promises silent opera, sing-along screenings, poetry slams and flamenco dancing. 

Wild swimming, foraging, rock sculpture lessons and a cookery school programme vie for space amongst a host of other distractions and experiences - you can learn how to smoke, cure and hang your own fish (and yes, there are fly fishing lessons also).  Food is given a headline spot at Wilderness, with butchery lessons, banquet halls, artisan bread making and al fresco dining on offer.  Raymond Blanc and Mark Hix are just two of the world-renowned chefs bringing their cuisine to the festival, not to mention the popup restaurant 'The Chef's Table', which will play host to a different star of the London restaurant scene every night.   

With partners such as The Southbank Centre, The Old Vic, The V&A and Battersea Arts Centre the theatre and arts programme is comprehensive, and for those who have the energy and restraint to remain functional human beings in the daytimes, you could attend talks on subjects such as 'Writing Your First Novel', 'Who Made Jihadi John?' or even 'The Battle of Waterloo'.  It is a far cry from the Leeds & Reading Festival, where in years gone by the most entertaining non-music activity was trying to find a reasonably edible hot-dog for less than £7.   


For those who prefer burning the candle at both ends, there are late night raves at the Hidden Valley which will host artists such as DJ Harvey, Kim Ann Foxman & Andy Butler (Hercules and the Love Affair), and Tom Middleton (The Bays).  Decadent jazz lounge 'The Grand Speigel' boasts Erotic Literature Salon's risque cabaret and a Sunday programme curated by Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, and if you're still wanting to party when most sensible people are catching a few hours shuteye, look out for DJ Eggs Legs' Floating Gazebo Partini, which tours the site taking stragglers under its canvas for a portable mini-rave. 

We are looking forward to four nights of fantastical partying, but will aim to take in at least some of the daytime gastronomic, well-being and culture-rich good times.  Just don't expect to see us doing paddleboard yoga the morning after George Clinton brings the Mothership in to land.

August 6th - 9th, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire.

Tickets from £187 for General Camping.  Children under 10 get in for £5.  Quiet camping and several different boutique options also available including Tipis, Yurts and Cabins with Spa packages.
See http://www.wildernessfestival.com/ for more details.


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