Set in Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Estate, Wilderness offers an eclectic mix of starry music acts, talks, fine dining, wild swimming and spa-style pampering – all in the idyllic countryside.
Last year's festival sold out long before the line-up was announced – such was the appetite for a bougie summer festival after a stale, house-bound 2020.
Here are the music acts, chefs and wellness gurus and thinkers set to make the 2022 festival a highlight of the year…
First things first, the music. Highlights on the main stage this year include long-standing disco legend Sophie Ellis-Bextor; the Maccabees' frontman Orlando Weeks; electro-ravers Underworld; Mercury-nominated Jungle and actor-musician Olly Alexander's chart-topping solo project Years & Years.
Left to right: Peggy Gou, Olly Alexander
Perking spirits will be a special performance from the roof-raising House Gospel Choir, while ensuring everyone – including that sunburnt, cidered-out friend – stays dancing until the end is the brilliant Peggy Gou, whose hit Starry Night was essentially the anthem of 2019. Festival favourite Róisín Murphy is back with a new set, and don't miss appearances from multi-instrumentalist and singer Jordan Rakei, or broadcaster, DJ and king of funk Craig Charles.
Meanwhile, a special Fresh and Flamboyant programme offers a feast of colourful cabaret performances, and is a space to celebrate queerness and explore self-expression.
Bringing Culture with a capital 'C' to Wilderness are performances from dance institution Sadler's Wells; eight-piece jazz and afrobeat band Kokoroko and the V&A Academy, which will be running empowering fashion workshops.
One of the biggest pulls of Wilderness – and perhaps the only one to successfully draw London foodies away from the capital for the weekend – is the banquets and feasting scene. This year, gods of the restaurant world descending on the festival to host their own Long Table Banquet include Australian chef Skye Gyngell of Spring (who previously won Petersham Nurseries Café its Michelin star); Irish chef Robin Gill (Darby's, The Dairy and Bermondsey Larder); head of Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Noor Murad; Michelin-starred chef and zero-waste promoter Adam Handling; queen of Middle Eastern cuisine Helen Graham (Bubala, The Good Egg, The Barbary...); L’Enclume's Tom Barnes and pioneering Nordic chef Niklas Ekstedt (of new London restaurant Ekstedt at the Yard). Each will be serving up fresh takes on their signature cuisine.
This year, food journalist and author of The Female Chef Clare Finney is programming the Woodfired and Friends series to run as a feminist kitchen. Among those getting behind the stoves are Rochelle Canteen's Margot Henderson and founder of largely female-run Westminster restaurant The Pem, Sally Abés.
For a more wellness-oriented experience, look to the festival’s busy programme of activities and workshops, which includes everything from breathing workshops with Breathpod to women's events with The Goddess Space and wild parkland runs with Midnight Runners. Alternatively, find more chilled pastimes in the form of the lakeside spa.
Those who want to infuse their festival experience with a dose of literature, intellect, comedy or impassioned debate will also have their appetites sated. Comedians confirmed this year include The Guilty Feminist, Russell Kane and Suzi Ruffell, while over in the Books Tent, festival-goers can listen to poetry readings, author talks and publishing house takeovers.
Those who emerge from their tent feeling groggy and a little bit fragile on Sunday morning should head straight to Sunday Papers Live for a reality injection. Here, a panel of journalists comment on the day’s hot topics, putting the world to rights.
Once cultured, fed and all-danced-out, head to the lake, where skinny-dipping is an essential rite of passage. And don’t miss Bearded Kitten’s Sunday Cricket Match which has been running as long as the festival and promises to be the most colourful match you’ll ever see – complete with streaking and drunken commentary on the green.
So, if you’re looking to merge the finer things in life with the music, dance and high-spirited fun, head out into the Wilderness.
|What||Wilderness Festival 2022, Cornbury Park|
|Where||Wilderness at Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, OX7 3EH | MAP|
04 Aug 22 – 07 Aug 22, All day event
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|