Wilderness Festival preview

Wilderness Festival

Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Oxfordshire

4-7 August 2022

This August around 30,000 free spirited revellers will descend upon the beautiful rolling parkland, lakes and woodland of the Cornbury Estate. It’s about as far removed from “wilderness” as it’s possible to get.

This festival of music, food, learning, literature and rejuvenation has so much going on that it’s impossible to sample it all in one weekend. It’s an event that thrives on exploration where a willingness to dress up and participate take the experience to a different level.

Musically, the main stage headliners, electronic legends Underworld, have moved towards dance and pop in recent years. They will no doubt re-ignite memories of the 1990s with tracks from their Beaucoup Fish and Second Toughest albums while also featuring material from their recent Drift series. For those looking for something similarly electronic Peggy Gou brings a lighter, more current touch to the genre.

Years And Years have always been a great pop/dance band with great dynamics so it will be interesting to see Olly Anderson performing with hired hands. No doubt there will be colour, extravagance and costume changes. Expect similar fashion changes too from Roisin Murphy with her left field disco tinged pop.

Jordan Rakei will provide delicate jazz tinged soul with relative newcomer Gabriels performing his modern gospel infused take on the genre. Those hoping for some forceful jazz need look no further than the powerful sax / drums combination that is Binker And Moses.

Steep sided, atmospheric venue, The Valley is home to late night DJs playing through till dawn. Always packed, it’s wise to arrive before main stage headliners finish to avoid disappointment or long queues. This year Superstar DJ David Morales and House legend Derrick Carter headline alongside Irish DJ Krystal Klear.

Wilderness Festival previewFor many, Wilderness is more about food than music. Feasting and Long Table Banquets are an integral part of the afternoon scene. Celebrity chefs like Skye Gyngell, Adam Harding and Niklas Ekstedt will be overseeing proceedings with table booking frequently sold out before the weekend. For some like me, pockets aren’t deep enough to indulge. Don’t be deterred, the spectacle is worth witnessing as an onlooker.

If gourmet eating isn’t for you, why not book time in the sumptuous spa, indulge in a massage or try aeriel yoga. Failing that, you’ll encounter hundreds wild swimming in the lakes if the weather’s good.

Wilderness never fails to impress with the quality of dance on offer. It ranges from the classicism of Sadler’s Wells to high quality contemporary companies. Regardless of style, the sheer quality and talent on show always seems to exceed expectations.

Do you feel like being a more active participant? How about midnight cross country running, horse riding or archery? Maybe something a little more sedate like an afternoon boating on the lake would appeal? Exhausted by physical over indulgence, why not stimulate your brain with something more cerebral or literary. The Forum and Book Tent are home to debates, comedy, spoken word poetry, book readings and so much more.

Then there’s The House Of Sublime; a highlight for anyone looking for something a little more “alternative.” 2022 sees it hosting Queer House Party, female only disco’s, burlesque and The Alternative Miss Wilderness.Finally, no Wilderness festival would be complete without Sunday morning cricket. There’ll enthusiastic amateurs, utter incompetence and dubious umpiring. Holding everything together (or maybe not) will be the best ball by ball un-PC commentary you’ve ever heard. Oh – and there’ll be lots of nakedness. Get there early to claim you spot in the crowd; there’ll be thousands in attendance.


Weekend Tickets including camping £230

Boutique camping options also available


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Landscape and live music photographer based in Cumbria.


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