Wilderness Festival, as the name suggests, is a four-day celebration of the weird and wonderful. Set in the grounds of Cornbury Park, a lush nature reserve in Oxfordshire, Wilderness offers a colourful line-up of musical and theatrical acts, amongst literary talks and spa activities.
Lavish and flamboyant at every turn, each of the festival’s three full days has a costume theme. Friday hopes to see its attendants dressed up as Creatures of the Night, mischievous and shadowed. Saturday wishes to step back into the individuality, androgyny, and freedom of expression encouraged by the ‘Golden Twenties’ at Klub Weimar, while Sunday seeks hedonism and opulence for the Revelation Ball. This is a festival of extravagance, and not for the faint of heart.
While talks at The Lyceum, presented by the University of Sussex School of Global Studies, hosts talks on the refugee crisis and global warming, losing your cares is encouraged at the music stages, with The Valley especially offering late-night revelry and partying, pure and simple. Bastille, one of the headline acts at BBC Music’s Main Stage, encapsulates the festival’s diversity. Wild World, their apocalyptic second album, has been followed this year by the release of their single, ‘Quarter Past Midnight’, which explores the youthful recklessness of ‘letting the night take you wherever’. They are joined by Jon Hopkins, Justice, and Nile Rodgers & CHIC, the iconic disco producer behind hits such as ‘Le Freak’. The Main Stage also looks to the upcoming, such as 19-year-old Mahalia, with her soulful R&B vocals and hip-hop beat, while their Saturday afternoon is dedicated to BBC Introducing, with acts such as dodie’s tour support Fenne Lilly taking to the stage.
At The Atrium, Time Out offers an eclectic mix of dance, music, and performance, in addition to various conversations covering subjects from ‘How to Get Published’ to ‘The Science of Sin’. Letters Live is also welcomed back, after last year saw the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Jude Law, Gillian Anderson, and Oscar Isaac breathe life into letters written by Iggy Pop, Hunter S. Thompson, and Lewis Carroll. This tent also holds talks on ‘Sacred Nipple Adorning’ and ‘How To Not F*** Up Your Kids’, as well as a Spooning Hour, encouraging the indulgence of ‘the social, the soulful, and the sensual’.
Elsewhere, V&A presents Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe, The Club House oversees games of Muggle Quidditch and Sock Wrestling, The Sanctuary gives classes on both Self-Defence and Self-Care, as well as Yoga in the Wilderness. Make the most of the sunshine with activities such as archery, nature walks, and horse riding, while late-night discos and hidden after-parties relish the Night Realm.
Wilderness’ ethos is one of exploration and community, and with this much to interest and inspire, boredom will perhaps be the only think you won’t find amongst the woodland.
Wilderness Festival takes place from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th August in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. Tickets are available here, including for Accessible Camping. Take a look at last year’s Wilderness below: