10 Things That Went Down At Wilderness Festival 2017
Two Door Cinema Club, wild swimming, Benedict Cumberbatch and...mouse taxidermy?
If it’s the weird, the wonderful and the wild that attracts you to the music festival scene, then Wilderness is undoubtedly the one for you.
This festival has it all - and when we say all, we really, really do mean it. Because where else could you check out some international musical talent, walk five minutes to the lake for a wood-fired hot tub and then perhaps check out a taxidermy workshop after?
Here’s 10 of the best things we happened upon at the 2017 festival.
1. The headliners were out of this world
Think Grace Jones with a golden skull, feathers and sunglasses on her head, Bonobo’s dreamy light show and Two Door Cinema club getting the entire crowd dancing like their lives depended on it. Then there was the Scandi dream team First Aid Kit and the honey-infused vocals of Michael Kiwanuka to bring everyone back down to earth on Sunday evening, to mention just a few. Pure bliss.
2. It’s worth going for the food alone
There’s no basic burger van burgers at Wilderness and even your most food snobbish mates will be in heaven thanks to the gourmet feast on offer throughout the festival site. Whether you want to cough up for the fancy long table banquets from the likes of Petersham Nurseries and Ottolenghi or you’re happy to nibble truffle mac and cheese from Ana Mae’s or a hotdog and a glass of fizz at Bubbledogs as you check out the main stage, you’re guaranteed to be grazing solidly from noon until night.
3. Letters Live featured a sneaky appearance from Benedict Cumberbatch
The concept of Letters Live is simple: celebrated actors take turns to read out a carefully curated selection of letters, some of which are infamous, some are just everyday musings mere mortals like you and me.
The Wilderness set involved readings from Tom Hollander, Russell Brand, Louise Brealey, Zawe Ashton and a little-known actor you might have heard of - Benedict Cumberbatch. The highlight of course being when he was surprised with a letter to read out written by none other than his own mum.
4. The dressing up themes were on point
If high street shops punting ‘festival fashion’ all summer long makes you want to do a little sick then you will love the Wilderness approach of taking field-side style back to its more offbeat and creative roots. Instead of cold shoulder dresses galore, they encourage everyone to get involved with a festival-wide dressing up theme each day.
This year it was ‘seeing double’ (think everyone dressed as twins), ‘warrior’ (shout out to the dude in a full Tarzan loin cloth and nada else) and ‘mirror ball’ (and yes, of course our look was entirely inspired by the crab from Moana, thanks for asking).
5. Discovering the weird and the wonderful on The Atrium
One of the greatest parts of the Great British festival experience has to be discovering your new favourite thing and feeling all smug and in-the-know about it forever after.
For us this year it was Hip Hop Karaoke, which does exactly what it says on the tin and features festival-goers performing hip hip classics to an enormous crowd on the Atrium stage (and which it should be mentioned exists as a London club night IRL too). Also up there was IntroducingLive Present Daft Punk, a totally unmissable set which saw the stupid-talented six piece perform iconic album Discovery live from start to finish. We know: it sounds impossible and as a result was every bit as mind blowing as you’re imagining.
6. BYOB on the Carousel Stage
No, not bring your own booze – we’re talking Bring Your Own Brass (although to be fair, bringing along your own booze to lubricate the experience definitely isn’t frowned upon.)
Now, the Carousel is one not miss anyway and your Instagram will thank you for it as there’s nothing quite like seeing acts playing live on a lit up merry-go-round as the sun sets behind it to get you all of the likes. Instagram admin out of the way, this year’s highlight for us involved the aforementioned BYOBrass, who had the entire crowd dancing with their irresistible takes on noughties classics that included the brass band remix of Blue Cantrell’s Breathe that we never even knew our life was missing until this moment.
7. The late night partying
When the main stages finish there’s plenty more to explore and if you’re in the mood to party, it’s time to go get lost in the forest. Chances are you’ll happen upon the Love Hotel, our new favourite spot for killer DJs and drag shows, and The Valley, an all natural amphitheatre rising from the forest floor that’s decorated by disco balls and laser shows that sparkle away as the DJs do their thing.
8. The lakeside spa is a one-stop shop for sorting your hangover
When the morning after the night before arrives, there’s nowhere better to soak your worries away than in a wood-fired hot tub situated on the edge of the lake. There’s bar service and you can complete the experience with a cool, refreshing wild swim in the lake’s waters before another quick dip in the hot tub.
9. There’s plenty of activities for anyone with itchy feet too
Basically everything that you’ve always meant to try but never quite got around to is on offer at Wilderness, so it’s the perfect place to give it go before you sign away your soul to a 500 class ticket back home.
For us that meant some bracing rocket yoga, a fly fishing taster session and WildFitness. Best of all we really felt like we’d really earned the 10 beers that naturally came shortly after. Other interesting sounding tasters on offer included meditation, Xtend barre and paddleboard yoga, but we guess we’ll just have to wait for next year to fit those in.
10. Your inner hunter-gatherer will be in its element
When you’re spending a weekend camping in the countryside it makes perfect sense to want to get in touch with your wild child – even if it is to remind yourself that you’re more of a city person after all.
Enter every possible wild workshop you could ever dream of including spoon carving, a wild medicine walk, foraging, horse riding and the activity that perhaps best sums up Wilderness: mouse taxidermy, a workshop which we’re pleased to announced was so popular that it totally sold out.
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