Thankfully, Wilderness Festival isn’t as savage and inhospitable as its name suggests. The annual event may take place in the wilds of Wychwood Forest in Charlbury, Oxfordshire, and good times may roll on the raucous stages until the early hours — but there’s a level of luxury you don’t get with other festivals.
The boutique camping, for example, has a 24-hour reception and concierge service. There’s a lakeside spa, complete with hot tubs and Veuve Clicquot. And, when it comes to food and drink, you’ll hardly be expected to forage in the forest. Instead, there are countless options to choose from — and here’s what we’ll be tucking into this August…
For fresh, seasonal food, dine with Petersham Nurseries
Inspired by nature, Petersham Nurseries is returning to Wilderness once again this year — and we couldn’t be more excited. Its magical, romantic style and fresh seasonal food fits perfectly with the festival’s beautiful country setting — and the dramatically wild floral displays within its tent have become a must-see attraction.
There are only a limited number of spaces available for its banquets on the day, but lucky diners will enjoy food from Bruschetta with Girolles & Marjoram to Ficattole, Prosciutto, San Daniele & Stracchino. But the dish we’re most looking forward to? It’s got to be the Roast Beef with Potato Al Forno, Chard & Romesco Sauce.
For the best Italian this side of Rome, Café Murano
Like Petersham Nurseries above, online bookings are now closed for Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano — but there’s also a number of seats available for walk-ups. You should definitely try to grab one, as this brassy little sister to Hartnett’s London bolthole, Murano, promises to offer the most sophisticated, yet simple, Italian-inspired cooking at the festival.
That means Focaccia Bread, Smoked Aubergine, and Arancini to share, with Mozzarella, Courgettes, Pistachio coming together for another enchanting small plate. Of course, you can carbo-load on the divine Puttanesca Rigatoni Basil Parmesan before you put your dancing shoes on, or just relax with a big plate of Roasted Lemon & Rosemary Chicken. Molto bene!
For the perfect meal-on-the-go, Le Bab
If you’re looking for some of the best ‘grab it and go’ food at Wilderness, you won’t get much better than Le Bab. Ed Brunet and Stephen Tozer founded their kebab restaurant in 2016, and have since created a foodie empire — with everything from the pickles and bread to the tout made in-house.
Swing by The Dining Room at Wilderness and seek out the Le Bab counter, and you will find everything from Doner Beignet, Chicken Shish kebab and Lamb Adana kebab with Mustafa yoghurt on the menu — all served with a crisp beer. And, if you’ve partied a little too hard the night before, they also do a mean bacon or sausage wrap.
For a summer barbecue with a twist, HotBox
If you’re looking for a decadent three-course meal, take yourself down to HotBox. There’s a very special collaboration with one of London’s most exciting chefs, Andrew Clarke, on Sunday — but the menu throughout the festival is guaranteed to get your mouth watering.
Who wouldn’t want to try Lime Cured Sea Bass with Mint, Pomegranate Seeds and Jalapeno Dressing — and served with a side of Blue Corn Chips? Or Mutton Shoulder Barbacoa served in its own smoke dripping? Everything sounds good, but our most ardent recommendation is surely the Charred Pineapple in skillets — sweet and syrupy.
For a classic, mouth-watering burger, Patty & Bun
Everyone loves a burger at a festival. They’re just so quick, easy and tasty. So thank the brioche-toasted lord that Patty & Bun are returning to Wilderness for a fifth year — and bringing their famous sound system with them along with those delectable burgers.
There’s a more limited selection on offer than usual, but the Ari Gold and Smokey Robinson burgers will sate the hunger of the most famished carnivore — with the Dig It mushroom patty representing for the veggies. Order with a side of brisket loaded chips and you’ll be set for any headliner.
Still don’t feel prepared enough for the festival? Here’s everything you need to know…