Wilderness festival

A leftfield line-up, gourmet grub and a distinctly boutique vibe: Wilderness could be the country's coolest festival

Andrew Whitton
Sebastian Barros
Sebastian Barros
Andrew Whitton

The first Wilderness festival took place just five years ago, but it’s already an institution of the British summer thanks to its killer combination of great music, a beautiful site, arts and culture and amazing food. Nevertheless, we’ve got to ask: could this year’s Wilderness be the best so far? We reckon it could, and our main reason for that is… Björk!

The music

Yep, the queen of Iceland (that’s what Björk is, right?) headlines Wilderness 2015, and she’s got a well-earned rep for a spectacular live show. We have no idea what she’ll do to bring her new album ‘Vulnicura’ to life, but we bet she’ll be wearing something amazing.

Björk’s possible rivals in the costume department include George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, as the cosmic funk legends perform a show called ‘Return to the Mothership’, and Andy Butler’s New York disco troupe Hercules And Love Affair. There’s more than enough heartfelt crooning on the bill, too, with Ben Howard triggering mass singalongs and Benjamin Clementine bringing his unique voice and knotty songs to Oxfordshire.

Also on the bill you’ll find Mercury-nominated singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey, piano innovator Nils Frahm and arse-kicking multilingual dance crew Ibibio Sound Machine, plus edgy pop prince Shamir, Icelandic singer-songwriter Asgeir, and hotly tipped electronic songstress Låpsley. In the Hidden Valley area of the site, shamanic disco demon DJ Harvey will be spinning grooves, while housier DJ sets come from Kim Ann Foxman and boogie duo PBR Streetgang.

Located at the heart of the site is the hugely popular Bandstand stage, which this year boasts a wildly eclectic programme: Norwegian synthpop artist Aurora, immersive, risqué cabaret from Lady Austin, Snoop sing-alongs from Hip Hop Karaoke, vintage dance at Swing Patrol and more fun than should rightfully be allowed on a relic of the Victorian age.

The food

It’s another killer line-up of acts, then, but Wilderness is as much about eats as it is beats. As ever, the big draw is the programme of long-table banquets, presided over this year by culinary legend Raymond Blanc, Angela Hartnett (of Murano fame) and Sweden’s Niklas Ekstedt, the Michelin-starred chef behind one of Stockholm’s hottest restaurants. You’ll need to book a separate ticket for any of the feasts, or simply graze on the various street food trucks dotted around the site instead.

The other bits

Away from the main stage you’ll find decadent parties, theatre, opera, arts and crafts, cinema, fire-walking, flamenco classes, an erotic literature salon and yurt-building. Get thoughtful at a range of talks and debates: TV historian Dan Snow and trigger-happy comedian Dom Joly are a few of those who’ll be chatting and pondering. And let’s not forget the lakeside spa.

Wilderness festival sells out every year, so book now to get out of London (and out of this world) this August.

More Wilderness features

Björk interview

Heartbreak! Technology! Mortality! Time Out goes for coffee with the Icelandic avant-pop goddess headlining this year’s Wilderness festival

Read more
By: Michael Martin

The 11 best Björk songs

Time Out‘s resident Björk super-fan picks the greatest songs that she’s ever belted

Read more
By: Brent DiCrescenzo

Buy tickets to Wilderness festival


Critics' choice

The ever-magical August getaway returns for its fifth year in Oxfordshire, with Björk heading up a top-notch music line-up.

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Cornbury Park Thursday August 6 2015 - Sunday August 9 2015



Really dissapointed about the expensive booking fee and it has been an absaloutely nightmare trying to book the spa. The system kept crashing and when I finally did book, I get an email stating I don't have tickets and that I will be refunded. To make matters worse, they have people requesting refunds which they grant but do not offer them to me but put them back on the Web site so now I have to go through the whole process again! Rubbish.

Nicola Mills
Nicola Mills

Arrived with minimal planning on Saturday afternoon - taken aback by the size of the grounds (don't know what the word is for grass even bigger and posher than, "grounds"), lack of map and signage and requirement for over 8 quid for a programme. Also taken aback by low key security - especially after Gentlemen of the Road - pleasant, but probably only possible because of the clientele and distance required to do a runner. Didn't stop someone nicking all one stall's lip balms though. Punters far too nice to use vacant disabled loo, even with queues, but didn't stop the shoving and shunting at the main stage - which could have been cut down if they'd forked out for some screens. Finally found my niche at Friends of the Earth busking tent on Sunday where really impressed by a young man with musicianship down to his fingernails. Event did make me need to check he wasn't an Eton graduate pretending to grow up on a council estate - he wasn't and James, aka the Cartoonist now has his first middle aged female groupie. Will look up Debrett's first if I go again,