Biography

Wilderness, a pioneering new festival of music, food, learning, literature and rejuvenation, is set to redefine the festival experience for 2011. Set among the lakes, forests and parkland of Oxfordshire’s exquisite Cornbury Estate on August 12-14, Wilderness will be an inspirational weekend for all the ages.

Curated by the organisers of Secret Garden Party and MAMA Festivals, Wilderness will be a weekend of freedom and inspiration for all free-spirited festival lovers. Performances, fireside banquets and theatrical spectaculars set amongst the stunning lakes and meadows of the ancient Wychwood Forest will set the standard for the new festival.

The people behind one of the world’s best-known and best-loved theatres, The Old Vic, will take their spin-off, The Old Vic Tunnels, to Wilderness, in their debut on the festival scene. They will deliver a program of theatre, performance and arts activities, with The Tax Deductable Theatre Company also putting on a range of shows for people to enjoy.

Cornbury has always been a destination for exemplary shows and, for many years in the late 18th century, it hosted the Wychwood Fair, one of the largest and oldest gatherings in England. The fair grew to become a vast pleasure park of entertainments and frivolity but it was the introduction of artisan foods and fine beverages that established it as an almost national success. Over two centuries later, the Wilderness festival launches on the very same site and with the same emphasis on traditional culinary experiences with communal banqueting at the very heart of the weekend experience.

But the festival’s gastronomical offerings won’t just be long-table dining and fireside feasts. Wilderness is delighted to welcome Skye Gyngell and her Petersham Nurseries Cafe as well as Sam & Sam Clark and their Moro restaurant as both hosts and culinary maestros of the festival’s two flagship outdoor dining experiences.

The finest names in musicianship will also perform, including Mercury Prize winners Antony and the Johnsons, Gogol Bordello, recent Brit winner Laura Marling who will perform solo, Toots & The Maytals, Guillemots and Hayseed Dixie, among many others.

There will also be an unprecedented line-up of talks and debates – from intellectual argument to educational workshops, humorous discourse to poetic declamation. Wilderness will come alive with stimulating debate, innovative visions and shared thinking from such organisations as Intelligence Squared the world’s leading forum for live debate, The Idler, the British magazine devoted to the ethos of ‘idling’ and Headspace, the meditation project who aim to demystify meditation and make it more accessible to the mainstream.

Restorative healing treatments and yoga workshops will also be on offer in the Well Being area for rejuvenation. The Wilderness Spa, set alongside the beautiful lakes, will offer festival-goers hot tubs, saunas and massages. Where else in the world can you be in a hot tub and jump straight into crystal clear lakes?

Family activities are at the heart of the festival, including nature walks and talks from the Bristol Institute of Natural History, lake swimming, boating, fly-fishing, a magical children’s area with babysitting from Boutique Babysitting and games and adventurous escapades on the front lawn of the enchanting 800-acre estate.

Tim Harvey, Wilderness Festival organiser says: “Wilderness is a festival concept we’ve been planning for nearly six years now – it’s as much a weekend retreat as it is an outdoor arts festival and it is our team’s curatorial approach to creating experiences well beyond just live music shows which has generated so much interest so far.”

“Wilderness is set to change what people think and how they experience a festival. We wanted to broaden out the traditional offering of the established festivals and bring together as many of the culture and lifestyle aspects people love and are passionate about.

“Together with the truly stunning and magical location, we believe we have created a new benchmark for the festival experience, which is reflective of the variety of partners and talent involved. We are very excited about Wilderness and hope festival lovers will be too.”

Creative Director Hamish Jenkinson said: “The Old Vic Tunnels has been successful in bringing together visual artists with theatre producers and musicians to create truly innovative productions. So we’re very excited to be extending the reach of our work onto the festival scene.

“Wilderness is a really inspiring concept, making culture accessible across one weekend, in one location. We will be providing festival-goers with a truly unique experience to celebrate the essence of the festival - creativity and inspiration.”