One year on, revisit Wilderness Festival 2019

Gentleman’s Journal has strong links with the festival and, despite not setting up our tents this year, we’re looking back at last year’s festivities

If you’re a Gentleman’s Journal subscriber (What? You’re not? Best sort that out here…) you’ll know that every year we pack our loudest shirts, biggest tents and finest champagne and head to the wilds of Wychwood Forest in Charlbury, Oxfordshire. For it is there, every August — except, sadly, this year — that the good times of Wilderness Festival roll.

And, despite its name, there’s a level of luxury at Wilderness you just don’t get at other festivals — not to mention a higher calibre of guest list. The lure of such a boutique festival always proves too hard to resist for many of the UK’s hottest young actors, personalities and entrepreneurs. So, in lieu of a festival this year, join us in retracing the steps of Gentleman’s Journal at Wilderness 2019…

We kicked off the weekend with a long lunch at Blenheim Palace

Laura Whitmore, Eleanor Tomlinson, Tuesday Hope, guest and Tuppence Middleton

To kick off the Wilderness Festival weekend, Gentleman’s Journal invited guests to be chauffeured by BMW to Blenheim Palace, where we wined, dined and relaxed in the grounds of the iconic palace.

Guests including Josh O’Connor, Maisie Williams, Lily Travers and Leo Suter enjoyed Veuve Clicquot Brut and AIX Rosé, accompanied by butterflied leg of lamb, skewers of chicken and chorizo and a variety of sumptuous salads. After lunch, we enjoyed a glorious dessert table served in the neighbouring orangery.

We celebrated summer at the Veuve Clicquot garden party

Sam Way
Sam Way

With more than 10,000 guests milling around under an unexpectedly hot British sun, keeping hydrated was important. And what better bubbles to stay safe with than Veuve Clicquot? Thankfully, the fabled French champagne house hosted a garden party on the second day of last year’s festival.

Guests including James Norton, Laura Whitmore, Tuppence Middleton and Dougie Poynter joined Gentleman’s Journal for a flute or three, and limbered up with some dancing before trying their hand at limbo. It was then inside for a five-course feasting menu, featuring dishes such as vine leaf ravioli with chicken shawarma and freekeh and baked broccoli, tomato salsa and almond flakes — a menu devised by chef Yossi Elad, former head chef of The Palomar.

We danced to the main stage headliners

Maddy Elmer and Dougie Poynter
Maddy Elmer and Dougie Poynter

After a lazy afternoon, we returned to our accommodation. And what accommodation it was. The boutique camping, for example, had a 24-hour reception and concierge service. There was a lakeside spa, complete with hot tubs and cocktails. And those of us who weren’t still stuffed found more food at pop-ups by Petersham Nurseries, Café Murano, Le Bab and Hotbox.

After throwing on some different threads, it was back into the thick of Wilderness to dance and sing to the sounds of main stage headliners Caravan Palace, Robyn and The Spectacle. Also playing at the festival last year were Bombay Bicycle Club (making their live return after a four-year hiatus), Groove Armada on the BBC Sounds Main Stage and Ivor Novello recipient Tom Odell.

wilderness 2019

We partied at the exclusive Aynhoe Backstage area


After the main stages had shut down for the night, we ensured the party didn’t end by moving to the exclusive Aynhoe Backstage area with a select number of guests — including Eleanor Tomlinson, Oliver Proudlock, Isaac Carew and Emma Louise Connolly.

As DJs Erol Alkan, Honey Dijon and Richy Ahmed took to the decks to keep the party going well into the night — and jazz sensation Incognito led the Ronnie Scott’s takeover at Atrium nearby — we enjoyed a late evening (and early morning) of cocktails, great music and even better conversation. Roll on next year…

Want more music? Jake Bugg is playing Glastonbury — in spirit, at least…

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