Wilderness festival announces more extraordinary talent for Season Twelve in 2023 – including Arlo Parks, Laurent Garnier, Honey Dijon, Franc Moody and Todd Terry – joining already announced headliners The Chemical Brothers, Christine and the Queens, and Fatboy Slim.
A four-day party like no other, Wilderness is back for a transcendental Twelfth Season. This illustrious escape into the wild can be whatever you want it to be – a kaleidoscopic array of intoxicating musical experiences, a sprawling culinary adventure, a labyrinth of laughter, and wholesome hedonism. Here, inspiring debates meet soul-nourishing workshops, wall-to-wall games, Wilderness classics and participatory high jinks. So, settle in, shake yourself loose and discover your Wilderness.
Building on the already announced seismic collection of headliners, Season Twelve unites a peerless ensemble of talent to thrill the senses. You’ll find performances across the most epic and intimate of dance floors, from atmospheric and left-field micro venues to the infamous Valley and the mighty Wilderness Stage. The stars are aligning: be prepared for the wildest Wilderness yet.
The Wilderness Stage lineup is enormous and unreservedly eclectic. Heavyweights already announced include homegrown titans of electronic music, The Chemical Brothers, uber-cool French innovators Christine and the Queens, the undisputed Brighton big beat badass Fatboy Slim, energetic Aussie electro ravers Confidence Man, the iconic Sugababes and neo-soul powerhouse Pip Millett.
Bolstering an already bristling bill, Mercury Award winner Arlo Parks brings her laid-back, honeyed vocals and fizzing new material to the Wilderness Stage while contemporary funk duo, Franc Moody, weave their electronic dreams with a hypnotic, free-form live show. GoGo Penguin is set to blow minds with their instrumental prowess alongside spine-tingling Glaswegian alt-pop from Joesef and literary-inspired indie-folk from four-piece Flyte.
As day turns to night, lose yourself in The Valley: the undisputed capital of rave. Under a starlit woodland canopy, a world-class collection of masters from the electronic world unite to throw down. Step forward Laurent Garnier, Honey Dijon, Todd Terry and Eats Everything.
The legendary French DJ Laurent Garnier has played raves, warehouse parties, clubs and festivals the world over. He is joined by a return from the impeccable Chicago house doyenne and Grammy-nominated Honey Dijon – who has lately been found hitting the studio with Madonna and remixing for Beyonce between sets.
Grammy nominee, supreme DJ and producer Todd Terry, whose remixes for the likes of SNAP, Annie Lennox, George Michael and Bjork bridge the ground between club cool and chart success, joins the bill alongside a returning champion – the brilliant Bristolian DJ Eats Everything, who demands a full-body response with his high-energy productions aimed squarely at the dancefloor.
The magnificent Wilderness Stage openers are spearheaded by Paul Simon’s Graceland – as reimagined by The London African Gospel Choir, and an all-out feel-good 90s Anthems set from Jo Whiley.
On The Atrium, The Royal Opera House and Hip Hop Karaoke join the already-billed jazz institution Ronnie Scott’s – who are returning this year to celebrate undisputed soul queen Aretha Franklin with epic soul singer Vanessa Haynes. Penguin Cafe pays tribute to the vintage ensemble Penguin Cafe Orchestra while the rocket-fueled and raucous Twisted Time Machine will launch you on an interactive voyage across the greatest party eras.
Contemporary classical pianist and composer Karim Kamar will perform a breathtaking show, and a much loved Wilderness tradition returns: The Wilderness Orchestra presents ‘God’s Jukebox,’ where the audience requests songs that have backtracked the most monumental moments in their life to be played by the festival’s own 47-piece symphony orchestra and guest vocalists. It’s a moving experience that’s always sure to silence the crowd and bring a tear or two to the eyes of many.
In the new home of eclectic music and variety performances, The Smudge Rooms, you can expect an evening packed with unscripted anarchy, courtesy of Keith Allen. Meanwhile, during the day, The Smudge Rooms will delight with a dazzling array of live music and entertainment from some of the very best in the business.
At The Hustle, your intimate dancefloor, you’ll find sets from breaks legend Krafty Kuts, Reach Up Disco Wonderland (DJ Andy Smith of Portishead fame and XL Records founder and Prodigy Manager Nick Halkes) and a takeover from disco label Midnight Riot.
Wilderness is famed for its dazzling bricolage of arts and for unearthing treasures from the most alternative and innovative corners across a dizzying multitude of disciples. It is renowned for record-breaking participation, engineering unconventional commissions and importing awe-inspiring spectacles to the rolling Cornbury landscape.
This year, Wilderness welcomes the likes of Candoco Dance Company, pioneers in the conversation around dance and disability, and Ceyda Tanc Dance, whose work is rooted in contemporary Turkish folk culture.
In The Art Studio, the focal point for artisans and makers, the renowned institution, V&A, returns with an array of workshops that will unfurl your creative wings, whilst Christabel’s brings back the beloved Pimp My Pineapple. In the entirely solar-powered Greencrafts Village, hunker down and celebrate heritage skills and traditional techniques using natural, sustainably sourced and recycled materials.
The Wilderness programme is proud to champion transformation, self-expression and diverse identities. The House of Sublime is a joyful venue that has become integral to the ever-evolving, divinely celebratory Wilderness identity. From award-winning cabarets to contemporary drag, enter a world of the fabulous and the unexpected.
Fèmmme Fraîche returns, merging cutting-edge house, techno and performance art and hosting a plethora of incredibly talented queer wmxn, femmes, butch, trans, NB and everyone in between. Eclectic underground DJ Shy One, who cut her teeth in London pirate radio, and international burlesque siren Missy Fatale work their magic.
The show would not be complete without Alternative Miss Wilderness, a pageant produced with love, boundless energy and all round good vibes by the exceptionally flamboyant Provibers and their vibettes.
Wilderness is the food lover’s paradise. It was the first event of its kind to bring fine dining to a field en masse and continues to lead the way in quality, content, scale and ambition.
From culinary collaborations with the biggest names in the world of cuisine to forest feasting under the sun-drenched Wychwood canopy, this year’s lineup is as tantalising as ever.
Long Table Banquets will be delivered by author, chef, activist and co-founder of #CookforUkraine, Olia Hercules; head chef of Soho’s Quo Vadis Jeremy Lee; Kudu founder Patrick Williams, serving up a feast inspired by his South-African roots and Dom Fernando, founder of contemporary Sri Lankan restaurant ‘Paradise’, who will close out the weekend in style.
Perched on a hillside overlooking the glistening waters of Lake Wilderness, The Chef’s Table boasts another all-star cast of those leading the way in closed-loop cooking and sustainability.
Michelin-starred Wild Honey founder Anthony Demetre, whose signature style combines classic French techniques with the finest seasonal produce Britain has to offer, joins decorated Scottish chef and founder of The Frog, Ugly Butterfly and more, Adam Handling.
Masaki Sugisaki, the traditionally trained Japanese chef with a fusion-led approach to modern Japanese food, makes his Wilderness debut, as does the green Michelin-starred Bristol restaurant Wilson’s.
The Wilderness Kitchen is the dedicated space for vegetarian and vegan feasting spearheaded by Social Pantry. There you’ll find Imogen Davis and Ivan Tisdall-Downes, founders of Native, a modern British restaurant that’s big on foraging and zero-waste ethos; accomplished vegetarian chef and food photographer Joe Woodhouse and Christina Soteriou, head of Bunch, which champions plant-based food for foodies. They join Sarah Turner, Head of Development at Social Pantry, to showcase the best in meat-free dining.
The newly established Pop-Up Market will host British-Afghan fusion BBQ joint Cue Point and East London bakery The Proof, with more exciting names still to be announced. Operating around a central dining space, there’ll be a rolling daily programme of panels, workshops and all things innovative in the world of dining.
Last but by no means least, Wilderness favourite Ben Quinn returns, but this time he’s doing what he and his trusty Woodfired Canteen crew do best: bringing their iconic outdoor long table banquets to the forests of Cornbury Park. Guests will be transported to their very own grand woodland dining room.
Expect perfectly paired drinks, delectable dishes cooked over an open fire and a table drenched in sparkling sunlight as it bounces from chandelier to woodland canopy. This is an experience you’re not going to want to miss.
Talks, debates and comedy
Wilderness is firmly established as a cerebral melting pot featuring experts, visionaries, pioneers and organisations who shake opinions, challenge the orthodoxy and make people laugh. The Forum will see sets from the likes of comedians, writers and actors Sara Pascoe and Desiree Burch.
Elizabeth Day, writer, broadcaster and creator of the hugely successful How To Fail and Best Friend Therapy podcasts, joins us to discuss her latest novel, Friendoholic. Bestselling author of Empireland and The Boy With The Topknot, Sathnam Sanghera, will be in conversation with hosts from the home of big thinkers: How To Academy, dissecting how the Empire has affected the world we live in today.
Wilderness is also utterly thrilled to welcome an appearance from trans model and activist, British Vogue Contributing Editor and UN Women’s Changemaker Munroe Bergdorf.
Award-winning science journalist, author, broadcaster and speaker Gaia Vince throws light on the interaction between humans and Earth’s planetary systems, and Green Party MP Carla Denyer joins the programme to discuss tackling the climate emergency and an end to the housing crisis.
The Conduit is a collaborative community committed to creating a just, prosperous and sustainable future and State of The Nation returns with their frantic tag team debate.
On Sunday night Keith Allen presents The Establishment Club: live interviews with social and political luminaries and performers dedicated to the art of unrestricted and uncensored performances. Phlox returns to host the best bookshop on the festival circuit with a lineup dedicated to readers, writers and lovers of literature still to be announced.
Expect takeovers from big and small publishers, talks with incredible writers, masterclasses from inspirational authors, poetry readings and a rapt audience of fellow lovers of the written word. The Poetry Takeaway are also back to spread their wondrous words, curated especially with you, for those you love.
Games and participation
Certain Wilderness traditions make the show what it is: unique and playful. These moments, when grins stretch wider, hands are thrown aloft, songs are sung for all to hear, and belly laughs ring out with strangers, are the very heartbeat of Wilderness.
The Wilderness Cricket Match with Bearded Kitten is one such tradition, featuring dubious umpiring decisions, fancily dressed batsmen, inebriated bowlers, streakers and a raucous, all-around fun-poking commentary.
Games, theatrics and mass participatory escapades ring out across the Playing Fields courtesy of the sublimely ridiculous and much-loved Village Circus. Hosted by the extravagantly extrovert crew, you can expect off-the-cuff comedy, relentless energy and illuminated Night Games.
Wilderness favourite The Club House is back with a smorgasbord of games, parties, music and crowd surfing, while the brand-new Faraway Fete, brought to you by Tootles + Nibs, will be your weekend exploration of all things weird, wonderful and downright bonkers.
Wilderness is loved across all ages, and the programme for families is as colourful and imaginative as ever. The Flying Seagulls return to spread light, love and inspiration through the ages, while 321 Let’s Have Fun is the space for little ones to explore, create and play.
The Cabinet of Living Cinema explores the heritage of film via live cinema events, and theatre company Tootles + Nibs bring their secret recipe of hubbub, hullaballoo, and brouhaha. The Hub, hosted by Transmission Roundhouse, has the older ones covered with amusing and creative workshops for teens to get involved in.
Finally, the ever-popular keepers of calm, Mortimer Nannies, return to entertain the little ones while the even bigger kids explore.
The Sanctuary is here to nourish mind, body and soul through an eclectic schedule of workshops, workouts, talks, yoga classes and meditations. Melt into this space and leave your troubles behind. It is the place to find peace, stretch and flow, envelop yourself in talks that build connection and partake in workshops that open your eyes to the stars.
Explore your sensuality or disco yoga yourself into Friday night revelry. Eclecticism is what we do best. Find your safe haven here.
Four diverse spaces cover your wellbeing needs: The Studio, The Shala, Mindful Space and Wellbeing in the Wild. The icing on the cake is the blissful Lakeside Spa hosted by Bathing Under the Sky.
Find your wild
Wilderness is a luxurious paradise that exists entirely for you. You are invited to dive in and discover your unique Wilderness, whatever that may look like: be it dancing with abandon and swimming naked in the sun or dining at a banquet dressed head to toe in sequins, exploring a yogic bind in The Shala before strutting your stuff on The House of Sublime catwalk; finding your voice at spoken word, then losing it cheering on strangers at the cricket.
Rise early to swim in the lakes, run in the long grass, forage in the forest, and then hit a creative writing breakfast club. Don your dancing shoes and descend into The Valley to dance with your new best friend front left. Whatever you do, unplug and switch off. Forget reality and find your wild. After all, that is what Wilderness is all about.
Wilderness runs from Thursday 03 to Sunday 06 August 2023 at Cornbury Park in the Oxfordshire countryside.