Fact: everyone loves a festival. But for many the size of Glastonbury, the chaos of Reading and the saccharine pop of V are just too much – step in Wilderness. The award-winning boutique festival will once again welcome 10,000 pleasure-seeking guests to the tranquil Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire this August for a weekend of music, culture, fine food and general hedonism. Not bought your ticket yet? Here’s what you’ll be missing out on…
The Wilderness programme is wide and varied but at its heart is a line-up of great music from both established and up-and-coming artists. Among this year’s headliners are Robyn, Tom Odell, Bombay Bicycle Club and Groove Armada, all of which are sure to be serving up field-filling hits and slick performances. Known for its low-key folk vibe, the Wilderness line-up also offers the chance to see some lesser-known but equally talented acts such as Cykada, Blanco White, Oh My God! It’s The Church and Freya Ridings.
Spread across six stages and venues, there’s far more to Wilderness than just the music. Letters Live will once again spearhead the festival’s talks and debates programme and, with previous guests including Olivia Colman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ben Kingsley, this year’s top secret performers are sure to be stellar.
Elsewhere, Audible Live will be hosting a celebration of the spoken word with acts including Dermot O’Leary, Rose McGowan, author Adam Kay and June Sarpong. The RSA, Extinction Rebellion and the Royal Geographical Society will also be on site across the weekend holding debates and tackling issues ranging from climate change and the economics of the environment to our emotional attachment to the world around us.
More light-hearted entertainment comes in the form of late-night comedy hosted by Pete Antoniou, and featuring Danny McLoughlin, Chris Stokes and Elf Lyons among others, while theatre buffs should check out a new modern dance piece by BirdGang and Sadler’s Wells as well as takeovers from the Southbank Centre, Roundhouse and Steakhouse Live in the ‘House of Sublime’.
Wilderness isn’t the kind of festival where you just stand by and watch. Feeling creative? Join a hat-making workshop or join Heaps + Stacks to try your hadn’t at maraca painting, floral art or creating leather luggage tags. Always wanted to take to the stage? Enter the Alternative Miss Wilderness contest, bust out your best moves at the Strictly Comes Wilderness competition or learn the time-honoured art of voguing. Not feeling quite that energetic? Join in an attempt to break the record for the world’s largest cuddle.
Big news gents: you don’t need to come home from a festival feeling completely broken. For 2019 Wilderness is hosting a huge range of sessions, workshops and events aimed at improving your mental and physical wellbeing. Take a dip in the wooden lakeside hot tubs, join a pilates class, take part in rave yoga or simply book yourself in for a spa-worthy facial or massage. Ben Bidwell, aka The Naked Professor, will be hosting a series of sessions focusing on the emotional issues facing modern men while Richie Bostock will be holding breathing lessons and Jess McMenemy will be offering evening guided meditations. A festival with zero recovery time? Count us in.
Eating and drinking has always been a big part of the Wilderness experience so you can expect far more than a few burger vans. Which isn’t to say there won’t be plenty of fast food to choose from. Patty & Bun, Pizza Pilgrims and Popdogs will all be offering delicious dishes to eat on the go.
But, while we know there’s so much to see and do, it’s worth making time to squeeze in one of the festival’s fine dining offerings. Tom Aikens has devised a five-course Sunday lunch (chicken brined in Koji rice with heritage grains, sorrel and soy-cured egg yolk – yes please), Petersham Nurseries will be offering a Mediterranean-inspired menu at its Wilderness pop-up and Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano will be in attendance for the third year running. Other big foodie names transporting themselves to Cornbury Park this year include James Cochran’s 12:51, the Scandi-inspired hicce, The French House’s Neil Borthwick and Sabor’s Nieves Barragán. Need something to wash it all down? The Veuve Clicquot champagne garden, Sipsmith gin palace and Talisker wild spirit bar have got you covered.
Can’t make it to Wilderness? Check out the best festivals to experience this summer…