So after yet another full year of school admin and pubescent teenagers, I couldn’t wait to get into my leggings, sprinkle some glitter and lose my mar bells in a field of joy. Wilderness was the festival of choice this year - sister festival to the every growing Secret Garden Party, it is renowned for its eccentric banquets and ‘earthy’ vibes. Located in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, the festival boasts a beautiful lake where tents offering yoga, meditation, reflexology and sauna’s surround it. During the morning, early risers go for a fresh water swim, meditate on the bank and get involved with group running classes.
While walking around the festival it is clear to see that one thing everyone here has in common is - money. The London based restaurant, Hix, offered boutique dining alongside a Champney’s cocktail bar, which looked like a beautiful wedding tent. Alongside the pricey three course banquets by michelin starred chefs, were pop up stalls offering the best gourmet burgers, pasta and tacos that would leave anyone’s mouth watering. Despite the evident middle class feel to the festival, there was never any animosity between people or other revellers on site. Perhaps the luxury of having clean toilets with loo roll in every portaloo granted people a positive mental outlook - despite the down pour on a number of occasions. Bar staff and crew were delightful and friendly, offering assistance where needed and even got involved with some pissed up banter from the customers. Cocktails were a reasonable price, if you are used to London pieces that is - don’t expect cider and beer tents. Most bars offered cocktails and spirits.
While the day offered relaxing activities and talks with interesting creatives (Irvine Welsh and Catiline Moran were just a few of the speakers who popped into the book store on site - yes there was a book store!) the early evening boasted an array of delectable music ranging from soul, jazz and country to techno and disco. Disco was the most heard music of the festival with Pandemoniam stage offering a while night of disco classics from Horse Meat Disco and Futureboogie. If you are into your 80s and 90’s music being remixed with some interesting 70’s beats, Horse meat is for you. If you are a regular in Dalston perhaps you would of seen them at the Nest on occasions.
The rain didn’t bother anyone - most people came prepared. Another example of a typical middle class festival where everyone came full ready for what the weather was going to hold. Stages were never too packed - even when the headliners took to the mic, there was still space to sit, roll around and stand with friends. Sound was a little disappointing, especially in Pandamoniam, which I felt, considering was hidden away in the depths of the valley, could of been louder. A family friendly festival however has to take into account those wanting to get a good nights sleep.
One surprise that really did make the Saturday evening was an appearance from London and New Yorks, famous club - The Box. Boasting ‘hedonism’ and ‘sexuality’ on stage that has never been seen before, mixed with cocktails and erotic dancing, this was truly something we had to see. Located in the Big Top, the crowds queued outside to be let in - surrounding a theatrical stage the audience were rammed in while saucy shows took place. Music was played throughout and offered an array of techno, house and hip hop while acts performed on stage. A midget kissing a topless woman on stage was my highlight - although I couldn’t see due to the vast amount of people. Definitely a great way to get people interested in the club, which is exclusive to Londoners - if you don’t look good enough, you don’t get in. The moto for the evening was ‘dress to impress’.
Lacking a lot of originality as SGP has or the magical woodland of Bestival, the evenings drew to a close pretty quickly. An improvement would be to add more areas in the evening where people can explore and ‘sketch’ about. Although with such a specific demographic, it is obviously important to meet the needs of the gourmet areas.
Would i go again? Definitely! Girlfriends and small groups are best, you must want to get involved in the day activities or its pretty pointless. If you enjoy keeping healthy but want to get involved with festival fun, it could be for you too. Ages ranged from 5-50 but there was definitely a certain ‘Kensington and Chelsea’ feel to the place. Manners are a must.