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Wilderness festival guide

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

Andrew Whitton

It’s back! Wilderness festival returns this summer, once again taking over a pocket of Oxfordshire countryside and filling it with music, food, performance and festival magic. This year’s Wilderness takes place from August 4–7 2016, with music, long-table banquets and street food, woodland parties, theatre, film and dance, a pop-up spa and more escapist activities. Sound good? Here’s the full line-up for Wilderness festival 2016.

Restless rock god Robert Plant takes the headline slot, performing new songs and Led Zeppelin classics (as you’ve never heard them before) with his current band The Sensational Space Shifters in an exclusive UK performance. He’s joined by Wayne Coyne’s psychedelic veterans The Flaming Lips playing their 1999 album ‘The Soft Bulletin’ from start to finish (another exclusive), and Anglo-Basque electro loons Crystal Fighters.

Headliner at Wilderness festival

The Wilderness main stage also hosts electro-swinger Parov Stelar, drum ’n’ bass godfather Goldie joining forces with The Heritage Orchestra to play his album ‘Timeless’, and laid-back and on-trend sounds from Shura, Tourist, Glass Animals and Rosie Lowe. And across the rest of the site there’s loads more live music: brass bands, folk singers, jazz, swing and klezmer acts, and The Wilderness Orchestra playing the songs of David Bowie. After dark, things get a bit more hedonistic in Wilderness’s designated party zone The Lost Valley, where Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston’s A Love From Outer Space and Derrick Carter (playing a disco set) hit the decks alongside Jackmaster and PBR Streetgang.

Wilderness festival banquet and line up

After all that dancing you’ll need a slap-up meal, so it’s a good thing that Wilderness is famous for its food. The festival’s regular long-table banquets are hosted this year by Raymond Blanc, Skye Gyngell and Virgilio Martínez, and London dude-food purveyors Patty & Bun and Pitt Cue Co are teaming up for a Patty & Pit Smokehouse. 

RECOMMENDED: More UK and London music festivals

Add in theatre, performance, talks and debates, dance workshops, wild costume parties, a croquet tournament and an open-air spa, and there’s way more going on at Wilderness than we can possibly mention here. This definitely isn’t your average weekend in the country. Book Wilderness tickets now for bucolic bliss without the boring.

Wilderness festival naked swimming

Buy tickets to Wilderness festival


Critics' choice

The ever-magical August getaway returns for its sixth year in Oxfordshire. Wilderness’s music bills have got better and better over the years, but Wilderness isn't just about great sounds: from outdoor theatre to talks and debates, horse riding to yurt-building, a lakeside spa and even long table banquets with leading chefs, this is much more than a music festival.

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Cornbury Park , London Thursday August 4 2016 - Sunday August 7 2016


Clancy R
Clancy R

I wasn't expecting to be able to banquet at a festival but was treated to many ingredients smoked every which way by a kind faced Scandinavian chef... Note to self: Make sure you invite more people to banquet in the future to avoid having to share a table, and food with others!

I understand it's not "all about the music" but a few more bands wouldn't go amiss!

Rebecca E
Rebecca E

Best time ever! Such a great relaxed and beautiful festival. The wild swimming and the spa is the best part! Oh and the great food and music

Nadia T
Nadia T

Wilderness was one of the best festivals I have ever been to. Had such a good time last year so definitely planning on going again. 

The lake is what made this place so extra special, having a dip really shakes off that grotty festival feeling (hangover). The atmosphere is so friendly and everyone who goes is there to chill, dress up and just relax. Its definitely a more grown up vibe, and exactly the sort of place to go if your tired of not sleeping after a full on party sesh. :)

Laura L
Laura L

blah blah Spa..it was an awesome festival with very few hitches. We had the same issue with the spa and were a bit miffed but once we got there there was a trillion other alternative options. We had hot showers, clean loos and security guards that gave out high fives and hugs. Sure stuff got stolen but every year someone in a crowd of thousands is going to aim for someone else stuff.

The only down side was the crowd mentality.... massively charming open people when encountered in talks and queues and sleeping on the grass but spot police once a band started. I wonder if a lot of the belligerent standers have ever been to a gig. How can you complain about pushing and shoving in a gig?..have you ever been to System of a Down, you go under and you come out again at best without a shoe at worst without a rib, by comparison the crowd at Wilderness seemed to think when you watch a band you are entitled to have a clear 6 inches around you at all times..London Underground would end them. Gigs in my world are sweaty, communal and close and all sway together and if you don't have the balls to move through the gaps in people then be cool and slip aside when other more enthusiastic people go for the front. 

Despite the tepidness of the overall crowd, Wilderness was a dream. Blessed with sun and combining goodwill, imagination, daring and eclecticism we being those I knew before and the loads of people I got to know during, all had a wonderful time. Being filthy and having trench foot is a sad badge of honour when instead you can swim in a lake, eat amazing food on top of the  ubiquitous mesmerising festival vibe of never-ending people traversing a huge site of wonder and colour dressed in revellry outfits with open hearts and minds. 

and if you are lucky enough to cobble together the £250 ish all in for tickets and food then I would suggest just swallowing the £8 for a program as all festival charge for them...or ask someone for directions and make a friend. 

If you haven't been go!!!..or don't as it will make buying tickets a ball ache like Glastonbury became:.)


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,