The Wilderness festival is only five years old but it has already made a name for itself as one of the best ones in the UK. Each year, more and more people are enchanted by its fabulous location that comes to life with countless stalls, tents and stages that will please your body and soul. Great food, theatres, arts and crafts workshops, wellness village and spa, and of course the music. All this adds to the unique atmosphere of the Wilderness and makes it one of the fews truly family friendly festivals of this scale.
This year the festival got a lot of extra attention because it was the only place in the UK where Bjork stopped on her current tour to present her new record Vulnicura. (Read our review here) Another big name on the bill was the funk legend George Clinton who had his stage full of top notch musicians jamming and presenting the best of his 60 year long career. And there was a lot – they barely ever stopped, and so did the crowd. Great show to give everyone some Saturday night fever. After that came something everybody will remember. La Fura dels Baus blew everybody’s mind with their incredible show involving a huge puppet walking through the crowd with their singer on it and 48 artistes hanging from ropes on a massive crane. Everybody was speechless. On Sunday, Ben Howard closed the MainStage for this year, while the Wilderness Orchestra did the same on the Wilderness Stage. A difficult choice to make. (Full review here)
During the day you could visit one of many tents designated for talks and debates. Which ever you would decide to pop in, something interesting would be going on there. From ‘happiness’ workshops to a solo performance of Bjork’s chellist. Travel documentary screenings to debates about plastics in the oceans.If you prefer doing over talking, you could attend workshops to learn how to make a wooden swords, walk on the firing charcoal and pretty much anything between the two. Greencrafts village offered skills of using natural materials, making baskets or even sculpturing. To show how much Wilderness cares about food, they also had their own Cookery School. Participants were initiated into the various secrets of the culinary world under professional guidance. They could explore for instance how to bake a homemade bread, how to make perfect stake, create untraditional Japanese meal with Scott Hallsworth or experience flame cooking with Swedish culinary innovator Niklas Ekstedt.
For film and theatre lovers there was something to learn too. Playwriting and directing, animation and sound effects workshops and much more. Film screenings and performances were a given. The Lost Picture Show was especially interesting venue. A nice little cinema that organised some of the workshops and had a nice mix of films including classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Kung Fury. A very interesting screening was of Ed Wood’s 1959 film Plan 9 from Outer Space. It wasn’t just a screening though. DJ Cheeba played his version of the soundtrack to it live. When his beats kicked in over the sequence of the dead bodies getting out graves, it was one hell of a show. Late night programme like this was a great alternative to the rave parties raging all around.
If you wanted to party and dance until the morning light though, for the six string souls the Juke Joint stage had their Acoustic Jamboree sessions where the party went on beyond the usual folk bedtime. And if you fancied a good old rave ‘The Valley’ was the place to be. DJ Harvey, PBR Streetgang, Tom Middleton and such on the turntables and rope gymnasts above the heads of the raving crowd.
One day would swing to another, and then eventually to the rainy morning after. People packing up their tents with their faces hidden in raincoat hoodies but smiling, wondering if all that had really happened in one weekend. It was just an amazing escape from jungle of reality to the totally different jungle of freedom, wilderness and festival hilarity.