Wednesday 20 August 2014

Wilderness Festival - Mother Nature's Disneyland

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I have recently returned from Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire. The word 'festival' seems to conjure mixed emotions for many people - there are those who absolutely love them, and those who think it's a young person's game, wouldn't set foot in such places for fear of being trampled on by beer-swilling lager louts drugged up to the eyeballs on 'disco-biscuits.' These kind of festivals do exist of course, but there are others - others which are an adventure for man, woman, and child, and these festivals can be far more magical than the likes of Disneyland ....

Wilderness Festival is such a place, surrounded by beautiful countryside - I wandered and weaved my way through the various areas of the festival and was struck by just how many families there were - kids ran freely, and so did their parents. 

A festival such as this is a wonderful opportunity for a child to experience mankind at their best, to see happy people from all walks of life, laughing, dancing and simply being together. 

We lazed on blankets in the sunshine and were serenaded by every kind of music, and in the evening the fairy lights lit up the sky - we warmed our cockles by the fire, sipped (Irish ;-) hot chocolate and simply let the atmosphere, music, poetry, comedy and theatre (and the odd shower) wash over us ... 


 From the moment you enter a festival, you leave your life behind and you are free to just be ... men, women and children paint their faces and dress up in every costume imaginable - anything goes. Bank managers wear chicken costumes, grannies cover themselves head to toe in glitter, and if you don't have time to dress up beforehand there's plenty of lovely ladies ready and willing to make you up ... 

Ease your achy legs by the lakeside spa, enjoy some wild swimming or yoga, head off into the wilderness on a wild medicine walk or learn how to hunter gather! then there are the CRAFTS ... basket weaving, felting, carve a spoon or bowl, iron-mongering, ceramics, knitting, and oh my days there's so much more  ...

...  fishing, boating, archery, settle down for story time in the House of fairy tales, or enjoy some theatre, poetry, talks and debates! Of course one of my personal highlights was the crafty area ... where I learnt how to glaze a bowl! and then I broke it on the way home :- /


Children connect with nature and learn how to build dens, they can even go on a two-night hunter gather camping adventure! I loved the vintage stalls selling beautiful handmade things, I bought some fab bunting from Brilliant Bunting, and these beautiful headdresses were made by girls at Fancier Feather, and Monsoon even had a jewellery-making tent where my good friend Poppyloves was whipping up bracelets! 



and if you're a foodie then oh my, you are in for a treat! because there was a 'Banquets and feasts' tent where chefs from all over were cooking up a storm - including the likes of Angela Hartnett and Simon Rogan (celeb chefs off the telly.) Now don't get me wrong - festivals can have some hardships as well; sleeping in a tent, getting a bit grubby, stinky portaloos and the weather can all be challenging at times, but they're also the best bits too (ok minus the portlaoos) but once you immerse yourself (in the festival, not the portaloo) you'll soon learn to embrace these elements ... hopefully. 


Another lovely thing about festivals is the effort people put into their tents and stalls. At the Hurly Burly tent they sell scrumptious food and drinks - however, every now and again the crew all stop what they're doing and burst into the most wonderful choreographed performance ... every year it's a different song and dance and I just LOVE it!

Later in the evening we all gathered to hear Burt Bacharach perform on the beautifully decorated main stage (how long must it take to assemble those giant branches?) and the crowd sang along to 'Raindrops keep falling on my head' as the raindrops did indeed, start falling on our heads. It was a lovely moment ...

But as long as you have your wellies, warmies and waterproofs weather doesn't stop these festivities, this is England! and there's plenty of comfort food to fill your belly .... and just look who I happened to bump into! Oh she's got her fingers in all pies, that Miggins!!

So before you book a family holiday next year, think about treating the kids to a weekend at a festival like Wilderness. It might seem expensive to pay £137 for an adult ticket, but it really isn't ... not when you look at just how much there is to offer. While a weekend at Centerparc or EuroDisney may well be an adventure for your child, spending a weekend at festival such as this can have a far more profound effect on you and your child's life  - and that is surely priceless.

JM x

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Please note; my opinions are always my own, I am not paid (unfortunately) to say nice things!

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  1. Oh, you make it all sound so nice. We've not taken our daughters to a festival (Elle and Jess are 9 and 10), mostly because I spent a big chunk of my teenage years behaving disgracefully at Reading and Glastonbury. There's something unsettling about reconciling grown-up-mummy Carles with wild-eyed-last-girl-dancing Carles.

    I'm not sure I could cope with acknowledging how much I've changed...

    1. Haha, oh do it! There's no reason why old and new can't exist in perfect harmony. If you do go next year let me know, we can meet for irish coffee and a bit of a boogie :-)