Triumphantly returning with an innovative multi-arts programme, Wilderness has embellished itself once again as one of the unmissable events of the summer. This year, it was as glittering as ever with sequins and euphoric smiles in abundance.
Wilderness returned to the spectacular setting of Cornbury Park which became the back drop for a stellar line up of multi genre talent across the weekend – a mix of diverse and unforgettable performances from headliners, Loyle Carner, Jamie xx and Rudimental. Mahalia, Sports Team, BICEP (Live) Georgia, David Rodigan & The Outlook Orchestra, Picture This, Lyra, Alfa Mist and more also took to The Wilderness Stage while over at The Valley, Eats Everything, Nic Fanciulli, The Blessed Madonna, Jayda G, Craig Charles and more all raised the level of the party to electrifying heights dropping stone cold classics at the ultimate forest dance floor.
Over the last decade, Wilderness has built an impeccable reputation for providing unique dining experiences packed with globally renowned chefs, and the UK’s hottest new names in the culinary scene. This weekend the Wilderness Feasting & Dining Experiences featured a series of collaborations bringing together some of the finest chefs from around the UK. In the Wilderness Kitchen, Helen Graham, Lee Westcott, Robin Gill and Native partnered with Social Pantry while over at the feasting tent Woodfired Canteen curated a line up of Chefs including Jude Kereama, Tim Spedding & Louise Rodkjaer, Roberta Hall McCarron.
Continuing with the Wilderness tradition of a fire pit restaurant setting, Flank delivered a line up of international guest chefs all weekend including Jay Morjaria, Ferdinand ‘Budgie’ Montoya and Selim Kiazim each taking their moment to create their magic over the open fire. Wilderness’ most intimate restaurant, The Chefs Table perched on the banks overlooking the lake welcomed Fallow, Elizabeth Haigh, Merlin Labron Johnson and Brad Carter who all served a bespoke, mouth watering, one of a kind tasting menu to delighted diners.
The compendium of the arts, The Atrium curated yet another world class line up across the weekend. Returning for the fourth year, Letters Live is always a Wilderness highlight and this year, it was equally as special, the collective once again read out a collection of compelling correspondence over two shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The crowd was captivated by an all star cast of readers including Tony Robinson, Louise Brealey, Hannah John-Kamen, Ferdinand Kingsley, Phoebe Dynevor, Toby Jones, Jo Wiley, John Lloyd, Hassan Akkad, Amanda Abingdon, Jordan Stephens and more.
Celebrating ten years of The Wilderness Orchestra, The Wilderness Proms took to the stage and played homage to some of the greatest artists around including a hair raising cover of Purple Rain by Joel Culpepper.
In a year where many had their big day delayed, Sanderson Jones hosted the ‘Mother of All Weddings’. Couples marched down the isle of the Atrium serenaded by the sounds of The Wilderness House Orchestra and The Sunday Assembly choir in celebration of love, that brought together thousands on our final afternoon in Cornbury Park.
The home of the leftfield and avant-garde, House of Sublime was the one stop shop for all things fabulous. Entering the unexpected world of award winning theatre, drag and alt cabaret, crowds flocked in to witness a fierce and diverse line up over the weekend. The House Of Sublime were thrilled to welcome back Alternative Miss Wilderness for what is fast becoming one of the Wilderness must see moments.
Over at The Forum, the home of thought-provoking conversation, Wilderness welcomed one of the world’s most highly acclaimed authors, Philip Pullman to pull up a chair and join the conversation hosted by the TV producer behind Not The 9 o’Clock News, John Lloyd. Sunday Papers Live, a ubiquitous Wilderness highlight returned to bring the broadsheets to life –section by section providing a perfect way to set up the day with an insight into the day’s headlines. BAFTA nominated comedian, Simon Amstell joined the Forum programme on Sunday entertaining the crowd with his razor sharp wit.
On the grounds of the Playing Fields, Bearded Kitten once again played host to a long standing family favourite, the infamous cricket match, this year presided by legendary cricket commentator, Henry Blofeld. This field is dedicated to spectacular silliness with a jam-packed programme of games and mayhem from the ever indomitable, Monsuier Bon Bon and his crazy crew. Yet again, The Grand Irrational, the finest of British frivolity proved to be one of the most bizarre days ever at the horse races.
As Wilderness 2021 reaches an end, it is clear to all that absence certainly does make the heart grow fonder.