Last weekend, we hit the road to get our glamping on at Wilderness Festival.
We’d agreed that given my less than outdoorsy nature, we’d go for the boutique camping experience, despite the faintly ridiculous cost (we could probably have done a week somewhere exotic and luxurious for the same price…) But it was quite something, turning up to Charlbury on a sunny Thursday afternoon and being greeted by rows of yurts, tipis, wigwams, Airstreams and Touregs – as the husband said, it was like being in the Hobbit shires. Complete with free copies of the Times, The Telegraph and HuffPo water bottles obviously.
Nestled in amongst ancient oak trees and set back from the main festival ground, our yurt was at the far end of the boutique camping ground so noise from the main site didn’t travel to our tent. People in the yurt next door singing The Thong Song at 4am though, we could definitely hear that.
My festival highlights were definitely Arcola Theatre presents Boy on the Wilderness Stage on Friday lunchtime – a beautiful, moving dance performance to commemorate WW1 which made me cry like a baby at the futility of war. Despite the rain, Metronomy on the main stage on the Friday night were amazing but possibly even better was the mad dash to escape the rain into the Secret Forum, where we watched Future Shorts – nothing like a Tibetan movie about a photographer to make you realise how lovely and random and peculiar the Wilderness experience is. The mobile disco we stumbled across on the Saturday night, which was 8sq foot of joy that danced around the fields between Hix and the bandstand brought a smile to all our faces. And the food – the food was spectacular, from breakfasts by the Breakfast club to dinners from Moro. We didn’t book any banquets, but we’ll definitely do that for next year, the food looked incredible.
As always, some lowlights and mostly around the cost vs benefit of boutique camping. The event organiser in me couldn’t quite work out why checking in to our yurt, with only four people checking in ahead of us, took around 1.5 hours, particularly when there were a lot of staff just hanging around… Similarly, having spent £300 on tickets + double that on the yurt, we expected a little more than a futon mattress, a duvet and a side table. Just a couple more little touches (camping chairs, lamps) would have made the experience infinitely better.
The Breakfast Club, which is without a doubt one of my favourite places in London, couldn’t make the festival service work – at one point on a Saturday morning, the queue for boutique breakfasts was about 10 people long, yet wait time was 2 hours. For a bacon sandwich. Not ideal for a group of hungover campers. And the fact that the boutique bar closed before the main festival site did – would have been nice to be able to grab a drink for the tent on the way back.
However, having said all that, we’ll definitely go back again – it’s one of the most beautiful locations I’ve ever been too, the foodie in me had a lot of jealousy at those better organised who had booked banquets and feasts. Bring on Wilderness 2015.