I'd been to plenty of festivals before, so thought I would know what to expect. But the UK's Wilderness festival (held at Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire in August) was definitely different, and a bit of prior knowledge really helps.
If this is your first time going to Wilderness then these tips will help you make the most of your experience:
1. Book anything you really want to see or do well before you get there, as they get booked up so far in advance of the festival. This is especially true for the Banquet lunches and dinners, and Neals Yard treatments.
2. The Sanctuary is where all of the therapies, meditation, yoga etc take place. If you don’t manage to get bookings for the Neals Yard treatments, you can book directly at the tents of the alternative therapies – BUT – get there early. My advice would be to book them as soon as you arrive.
3. You pay for all bookings when you make them and not when you go along, so be prepared for a large layout of cash up front. Some do take cards.
4. There are lots of cash machines around the site.
5. The site is vast, and there is so much to see it can be overwhelming. It’s not helped by the fact you c
an’t buy the programme until you get there. The programme is like a small book, there is so much going on. Take time out to sit and figure out what you want to see and do.
6. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you see the big Saturday Night Spectacle… and the Sunday morning cricket match.
7. Even if free events are ticketed and full, it's worth pitching up just in case people don’t show.
8. Take advantage of the eclectic mix at the forum to experience new thoughts and ideas. These are all free and if you get there early enough you may even get to sit on a sofa.
9. The general campsites are a very long walk from the festival and it’s hilly, so be prepared.
10. The car parking for the general camping is also a long walk from the campsite. Maybe invest in a trolley to minimise the number of trips you need to make.
11. Security is tight, and you are scanned in each time. They enforce the ‘no glass' and ‘limited alcohol' rules tightly and patrol the campsites, so be sure everything is plastic.
12. Expect the ‘organisation' to be disorganised – especially on day one when the staff are all getting used to their roles… and just chill; they manage to get it right in the end!
13. If you like to dress up in the weird and wacky feel free to do it here. BUT, if you like your festival dress to be more conservative you won't feel out of place either. Everything is fine.
14. From young families to grandparents and every age in between, there is something for everyone at Wilderness.
I was so frustrated on the first day that things were so disorganised, and not at all what I expected compared to other festivals. But would I go again? Most definitely!