Everything that makes Wilderness Festival the unmissable festival of the year, and how you can enjoy Wilderness festival on a budget.
“That first evening we drank chai tea laced with brandy and danced under the starry sky while trapeze artists cycled through fire high above us.”
Welcome to Wilderness Festival in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. A magical feast for your soul and your stomach.
Having made it's debut back in 2010, this unconventional boutique festival is seriously classy and built with the aims to inspire, challenge and enrich your lives. Although there may be some mud and rain, (this is good ol’ Blighty after all) Wilderness festival lives up to its luxury reputation. The toilets are clean (I know that sounds like a lie – but it’s true!) and you can even have a hot shower!
Festivals have always been free spirited, but none are quite so decadent, or posh, as Wilderness. We had heard some horror stories (like how David Cameron likes to attend *sicky face*) but don’t let that deter you!
5 people you’ll definitely see at Wilderness Festival
- Instagrammable Electric glitter mermaids.
- Glamorous dandies with epic moustaches and eyewear, possibly riding penny farthings (or similar)
- Wild runners.
- Totally incredible world-famous, award winning Chefs.
- Miss Alternative Wilderness (with Andrew Logan)
So, what should you wear to Wilderness? Well, pretty much anything goes here – be as wild and eclectic as you like! There are actually different dress codes for each day but you’ll hardly notice – sequins all day every day are totally encouraged. Bust out the glitter and that crystal crown you’ve always pictured yourself wearing, or simply be yourself in jeans and a t-shirt.
Throw caution to the wind, and break all the rules, well, apart from this, our solitary, singular 1 rule: comfy, practical footwear, Wilderness Festival is located in a 5,000 acre nature park after all.
Learn to dance in the rain. Let yourself go and be free to enjoy yourself whatever the weather. It doesn’t matter if the forecast says dry, wellies or chunky waterproof boots are your new bff! They go with absolutely every outfit, don’t worry about what anyone else is wearing, you will be smug and warm and dry footed all weekend, save your sandals for the beach.
Despite the fear of bumping into the ex PM, the lure of spending a magical weekend in a deer park in rural Oxfordshire with a bag full of (biodegradable) glitter, a lot of fairy lights and my favourite people was just too much to for me to say no to. But why should YOU go? And how can you keep to a budget at the “UK’s version of Coachella”?
*Wonderful humans will roam the campsite each morning bringing smoothies, snacks or sometimes coffee right to your tent, courtesy of Wilderness Festival Sponsors. Worth getting up for!
**We didn’t actually end up at the Orangery once, despite being tempted every time and our enjoyment wasn’t hampered one bit!
Wilderness Festival is set in a nature park and it takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. They don’t allow plastic at their food stalls anymore and they switch off generators at night. All their glitter and confetti is biodegradable (huzzah!) They operate on a ‘leave no trace’ policy and have been a zero-landfill festival for the last few years, they even encourage greener ways to travel to the festival site.
5 things you will definitely do at Wilderness Festival.
1. Overindulge – in everything!
There are so many amazing things to eat at Wilderness Festival. Food is not an afterthought. Your senses will be blown, and your taste buds reawakened. Further down the page we will tell you how to enjoy Wilderness on a budget, but first, heed our advice - wonder around, smell all the smells, try all the free samples and make a mental note of what you want to eat and when, instead of galumphing about eating everything, blowing your whole budget and finally falling asleep under a tree by 3pm. Thank me later.
Wilderness is a Mecca for foodies – sushi, Buddha bowls, homemade cakes, lobster dogs, slow cooked meats, the list goes on. If you’re feeling flush, book (before you arrive) to attend one of the incredible long table banquets which take place across the weekend – prices start from £55 and fill up quickly.
2. Meet like-minded people and kindred spirits.
Festivals are a great way to meet new people, and Wilderness is no exception. You already have the festival in common! Talk to as many people as you can, you won’t regret it (always apply common sense of course to keep yourself and your friends safe). It’s only since travelling that I’ve had the confidence to ask for contact details, but even just swapping Insta’s has bought me so many new experiences and enhanced our experiences hugely.
3. Learn something.
Unleash your inner savant and get your TED on by heading to see one of the many inspirational guest speakers. Wilderness Festival is always packed full of influential experts from the worlds of food, politics, fashion, music and the arts. Head to The Artium, The Forum or The Lyceum for a thought provoking day of mind expanding, challenging brilliant knowledge and information.
4. End up in the lake.
Maybe you’ll be paddling on the shore, maybe you’ll head in deep for a wild swim (or skinny dip) or maybe you’ll do some jaunty boating with your partner in crime and a parasol (boat hire starts from £48), either way it’s impossible to resist the lure of the water.
Dance while you’re waiting in line to use the loo in the morning.
Dance in The Atrium to a live orchestra with God’s juke box and Disney classics.
Dance with the flying horses to electro swing and world music at The Carousel.
Dance with bourgeois bubbling burlesque acts, glorious glitzy pin up girls, and flamboyant feathered chorus lines.
Dance your socks off in a secret wooded valley until the sun comes up like the psychedelic techno fairy you know you are.
Sounds amazing right?
Wilderness is branded as a luxury festival and whilst there is no doubt that it lives up to its legend, at £179.50 per person Wilderness Festival is actually one of the cheaper festivals on the UK circuit at the moment but that’s only the ticket price – How do you do Wilderness Festival on a budget?
In fact, it’s pretty easy to enjoy yourself and stick to a budget if you keep your wits about you and don’t get carried away.
Our 5 tips on how to enjoy Wilderness Festival on a budget:
1. Forward thinking.
We’re not just talking buying early bird tickets here, although that is an absolute must. If you book tickets in advance, in bulk the prices are cheaper. It’s 7 tickets for the price of 8! So, get all your friends together (money up front first please guys!) to bag a bargain. Wilderness Festival also offers the opportunity to split your ticket cost over a few months if that’s easier, so you’ll have time to save up.
2. Feed your spirit, not just your overdraft (and blood alcohol levels).
Scour the festival programme and you’ll find some wonderful things going on outside the music and the partying. If there’s a workshop, activity or talk you want to attend, check whether it’s cheaper to book in advance. The most incredible activities go on for free at Wilderness Festival and by spending time learning a new skill or listening to a debate or book reading you’ll open your mind and nurture your soul. You might even find yourself forgetting about spending money on cocktails altogether rather than craving one at 9am (or is that just me?) You can even make your own clothes and accessories! Which leads us to our next tip…
There are some utterly breath-taking fashion at Wilderness, but most stalls are happy for you to try their pieces on and take photos if you upload them to social media and be sure to tag their brand. Make the most of this! (Ask first!) It’s easy to get caught up in the atmosphere but you will pay a premium for buying at a festival and let’s be honest, are you going to wear that bejewelled antler top hat again any time soon? Bring your own glittery make up, make your own sequined pieces at home, let your imagination run wild!
4. Take a reusable water bottle.
Simple, right? But so many people forget! Wilderness festival has plenty of taps to fill up at for free. You can also buy reusable water bottles on the day, not so good if you’re on a budget but still definitely cheaper and waaaay better for the environment (and your Karma) than buying plastic bottles. On that note, take a cup for your wine/coffee/beverage of choice. Many places will knock a little money off your purchase if you bring your own cup!
5. Eat breakfast at your tent or accommodation.
Ok, so food is one of the massive lures of Wilderness Festival and with so much incredible cuisine to sample we won’t judge you if you blow your entire budget on food. However, cook at your tent and you’ll be less tempted to go wild. If you can bear it, head back to the campsite in the afternoon to recharge, regroup and refuel for a few hours. Some of your best memories will be made in those few hours in the mid-afternoon; chatting, putting the world to rights and getting glammed up ready for the evening festivities. This is also an excellent way of avoiding festival burn out early on! (Food at the festivals start off from around £4.50)
Extra special bonus tip:
This one should be obvious. But somehow it always seems to only cross your mind once you’re at a festival or just while the buzz is still rolling and then you forget about it until next year. We’re talking about volunteering. Check websites and Social Media, festivals can’t run without volunteers and staff.
There’s something for everyone – if bar tending or security isn’t your cup of tea, you can swap a couple of hours as a car park attendant or man an information point in exchange for a free ticket and often behind the scenes access. If you’re super savvy, you can bag yourself a job litter picking at the end of the festival or helping out on a bus route, ensuring you don’t miss a minute of the weekends action! Festivals are savvy so you’ll have to pay for your ticket but they’ll refund you once your duties are complete. If you want to become a Wilderness Festival volunteer here’s the link.
So, check out Wilderness Festival this year If you want an experience that is unlike any other festival in the UK and don’t forget your glitter and fairy lights!
What’s your best tip for doing a festival on a budget? Do you have a favourite Festival either in the UK or abroad? Got a Wilderness Festival experience we need to know about? Let us know in the comments or drop us a message – we get a real buzz out of hearing from you!
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