I won tickets on Baby Budgeting's Blog to go to the Vintage Festival but as luck would have it Vintage was, this year combined with Wilderness Festival. I had no idea what to expect. I found the Wilderness Website rather over complicated and arty to actually sort out what was going to be happening, so other that reading the rules re No Gas cookers, No Open fires, not more than an allocated alcohol amount (it's like going to a different country - would there be passport control??),etc etc I had no idea what to expect. I knew there was talk of swimming and maybe riding...but, what else?
So we arrived, DD (aged 12) and I. Pitched our lovely painted tent in the family camping area in the shade (but not too close to!) a conker tree, and went to see what was what.
The festival is large, but not too large, not as large as Camp Bestival for example, and where festivals are concerned size is not the most important thing. There were plenty of free things to do, but lots of things to pay a little extra for such as making your own wooden hula hoop, stone carving, wood carving (make a wand), pottery lessons, and other fun things in the green craft field too. There were intellectual debates, music (all kinds), burlesque, plays (Matt and Robin performing 'Bathtime'in the Oxford Playhouse PopUp tent was a special highlight for DD and I and we went to see it twice!)
Into the Wild Wood
Matt and Robin, not 'nakkid' but having a hilarious Bath Time with Ernie the Duck and friends.
Down by the Lake
Wood Carving and Green Crafts
Did I mention there was a Kids area? Separate from the main area, and really rather delightful, with mystical gardens (filled with ribbons and weasels), a traditional sweetshop, yoga practise for all ages! and a rather lovely Circus With Flying Seagull (A charity - please do click through and take a peek at their website) Kate was rather sweet and painted my face, and DD's for a small donation. We watched the kids doing yoga, DD ate a lolly and then we wandered onward into the festival...
Of course there was also the Vintage Festival, a Roller Disco (which DD adored), The Insect Circus Museum (an old friend from Camp Bestival) an outside Cinema (that we never got round to seeing), fabulous shopping, a kids art tent (spent Sunday afternoon there) and a grown up art tent which was also great fun. (I wonder if they sold 'Angry Cat' I sort of regret not asking how much he was)
My little Monkey
Insect Circus Museum
The Torch Club
The music in The Torch Club was just wonderful, I regret not spending more time in there, sipping cocktails, listening to the band and watching the gorgeous 40s styled men and women dancing.
But there was simply so much to do, after early breakfast of smoothie (both hot and cold options, hot apple and cinnamon was delicious) from the Juiceman, and a quick game of table tennis on the free ping pong tables, it was down to the lake for a (freezing cold) swim, a snooze in the sun, a row on the lake...all preparation for the secret swim later...(WARNING: Contains nudity, lots of nudity)
Mac and Cheese
Now I always thought that Camp Bestival loos were the best, and they are good but Wilderness toilets were posh beyond belief, running water, electricity, CARPET? There were portable chemical toilets too and they were all supplied and maintained by AndyLoos who deserve kudos for great staff and a slick toilet operation! (that sounds odd but you get my gist)
Festival Toilets. Yes Really.
So the festival was large enough to be full of fun and entertainment, yet small enough not to get lost, and to feel intimate. People on the whole behaved well (there were some discarded balloons despite rules banning nitrous oxide canisters but the searches on arrival were as thorough as they could be without sniffer dogs and scanners) and we didn't see anything nasty or shocking.
The countryside was beautiful,enhanced by perfect weather for the entire weekend (even a tent full of earwigs didn't dampen our enthusiasm) The people were lovely, the food was delicious, the entertainment was fun, the music was great (so good I bought Lianne La Havas's album) Will I be going again? Yes. I would go to Wilderness rather than Camp Bestival if I could only pick one of the two. I'm a fickle festival fan.
My abiding memories of Wilderness are beards (lots of sexy, sexy beards), gorgeous girls in 40s dresses, tails, masks, nudity, sunshine and smiles. See you there next year?