We pitched up among the yurts and tipis of Cornbury Park to find out how groups can eat well and live better at one of the UK’s biggest festivals
We like Wilderness. It’s in a beautiful woodland setting, the all-night energy is infectious and you can have a Hix bacon roll for breakfast. The Oxfordshire festival’s fifth edition is its biggest yet, and across four days it continues to please both the hedonistic and the health-conscious.
Headliners Bjork and funk veteran George Clinton drew in the crowds, but it’s the non-musical events that make this festival stand out – especially for corporate entertainment bookers. If the weather’s scorching or you need to soothe a hungover head, a dip in the lake is a must. Go for boutique camping and you get the run of the lakeside hot tubs, plus a blow-dry bar courtesy of Insync Events. For groups, there’s a selection of structures to make guests’ stays comfortable, from tipis, huts and yurts to wagons and caravans. There are also barrow boys ready to transport luggage. Handy.
Saturday kicks off with a 9am yoga session in front of the bandstand, hosted by the energetic team from Sweaty Betty. We’re showered in glitter as we practise our downward dog – a relaxing way to wake up from the previous night’s antics in the Laurent Perrier tent.
We reward our early start with a bloody mary masterclass from the guys at the Ketel One Vodka Kitchen. Groups of up to eight compete to create the ultimate hangover cure, but there’s a twist: no tomato juice. I make one with cucumber and celery juice. And, guess what? It’s incredible.
It wouldn’t be Wilderness without the food, and no other festival I’ve been to rivals its culinary offer. From feasts hosted by Petersham Nurseries
, long-table banquets by Angela Hartnett, Raymond Blanc and Niklas Ekstedt through to chef’s tables from Nuno Mendes and James Knappet, this is an absolute treat for food lovers. Even the street food trucks have some big-hitters rattling the pans: Duck & Waffle
, Patty & Bun
and The Breakfast Club
have all decamped from London.
The revelry continues late into the night, particularly at The Valley, a rave in the woods that lasts ‘til 4am. If you’re not that way inclined, then you might stumble into a tent at 3am to make voodoo dolls and hold lizards and snakes, or hit up the travelling gazebo, packed with 30 people and 80s tunes. Then you’ll get up the next morning for a smoothie masterclass with Deliciously Ella. See, the luxurious and the lively elements match up. For groups wanting to both let loose and chill out, we can’t think of a better setting.