I am normally a Glastonbury Lady so when asked to review a much smaller festival I really went with an image in my head of 5 stalls, 1 stage and a handful of people!
The website for Wilderness (although somewhat confusing to navigate) was beautifully illustrated and presented and this carried on throughout the whole festival.
We were also very lucky with the weather and this always makes for a more enjoyable festival.
On arriving, we headed straight for the Family Camping. It was a fenced off area but no checks as such to getting in, you just walked on in. Lots of space, lovely long comfy grass, and by far the best toilet facilities I have ever seen at a festival. There was some issues when first arriving with no drinking water being available in the Family Camping but when pointed out to a steward it was very quickly resolved.
The Main area was much bigger than I had imagined but still a perfect size for getting around with a 3 year old. Plenty of different varieties of lovely food and drink stalls with ample seating for little one to have his food in comfort, I would recommend Coyote Moon Cafe the only place we could find that happily oblige to making Dylan his beloved scrambled egg for breakfast. No-one else (and believe me we asked everywhere!) would do it.
We saw quite a lot on the main stage and enjoyed the wonderful sounds of King Charles, Jake Bugg, Temper Trap, Rodrigo Y Gabriela amongst others and they were all outstanding. The roadies took quite a liking to Dylan and were even happy to give him a tour of the stage and a couple of Rodrigo guitar picks. If you had the urge you could even have a camel ride round the main area, we just had a little cuddle with them but plenty of people had a trot about.
The Kid’s area had ample there to entertain a wide range of ages. The wonderful Flying Seagull Project, a charitable group run by the wonderful Bash, did the majority of the entertainment. I cannot express enough how good they were, Dylan fell in love with Bash and is still talking about him now. He had such a wonderful way with the children, they all adored him and would’ve been happy spending the weekend being entertained by him and his wonderful team all weekend. Funded entirely by charitable donations, the commitment and enthusiasm to their work was inspiring.
Although Dylan was too young to take part in the Bushcraft overnight camping group, I spoke to a few of the parents who had children that had been on it and they could not have praised them more. Their children loved it, covered from head to toe, catching and cooking fish and making the best of new friends.
There was several different storytimes, all of which were beautifully entertaining for all ages, but Dylan (and myself) loved the Roald Dahl story time, the only time he was quiet all weekend – he was spellbound listening to the stories.
One of the many wonderful places to spend time at Wilderness is the lake. Swimming, boating and just relaxing by the lake was all possible. Dylan had a paddle and we all enjoyed a lovely long walk around the lake, you forgot you were at a festival – it was a truly magical space for all. They even had the Guinness World Record skinny dipping attempt on the one evening!
Wilderness had the first ever site takeover from Future Cinema with their production of Bugsy Malone. A splurge fight took place all over site with 1920’s styled bars, while the film was being screened. Sadly with a 3 year old in tow we missed the evening events of this but did get to meet Fat Sam and Tullia whilst they were taking a walk around in the afternoon, a highlight for Dylan who of course had no understanding about who they were but thought they were brilliant all the same.
On Saturday and Sunday the Vintage Festival area opened. You could have dancing lessons in the Torch Club, learn new skills in the Vintage Sewing Schools, go roller-skating and party in the Soul Casino. I loved looking around the clothes stalls whilst the boys had a play in the kid’s area. You could even get your hair styled in a particular vintage style in an amazing vintage hairdressers, I rather fancied the 1940s look…
So in conclusion, would I go to Wilderness Festival again? Without a doubt yes, yes and yes again!
It had such a lovely vibe to it, I think for families it was a perfect size and has actually made me re-think my whole future festival bookings with a young child. Even when Dylan decided it would be funny to play chase right through the middle of a busy headline set, I didn’t worry (much) as I knew he would be okay. At a larger festival I would’ve jumped on him the moment he ran off.
The smaller scale of Wilderness made it feel more personal in so many ways. By the end of the weekend the children’s entertainers knew Dylan and he would have happily joined their show and gone travelling with them.
It was clean and friendly, with amazing food, entertainment and so much for a child to learn and benefit from – which to me is one of the most important things to a festival not for them just to have the best time but for them to have an experience they will never forget.
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