Out of Eden and into the Wilderness

Out of Eden and into the Wilderness

We have been working particularly hard this year on our partnership with Veuve Clicquot across all of our hotels in the Collection. To reward our efforts and successes, they kindly invited us along to this year’s Wilderness festival in Oxfordshire, where they had their own Champagne Garden for the 2nd year running.

The invitation was for a 2 night overnight stay in a boutique tent with Chef banquets included on both nights… this was our first festival and we were certainly going to do it in style!! We were promised the opportunity to discover a place where nothing as it seems and that was an understatement.

After a warm welcome from the Veuve Clicquot team we were shown to our tent complete with carpets, lights beds, duvets, not a sleeping bag in sight! There was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was beaming down on the Oxfordshire countryside. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to enjoy this wonderful opportunity. We donned our sunglasses and set off to explore with instructions to meet later in the day at the Champagne Garden… oh well if we must!

Walking through ‘The Day Market’ we were greeted with fairground rides, international cuisine, shops selling everything from circus kits to lavish clothes to jewellery. There were many workshops to embark up on an activity or two from wand carving to felt workshops to basket weaving not to mention the venues where there was a plethora of talks and debates available to attend all weekend.

Through the Day Market we wandered with our eyes wide open gazing at everything and everyone in awe. We came across ‘The Sanctuary’, a place for yoga, massages, relaxation and general wellbeing overlooking the glorious Lakeside Spa that sparkled in the blazing sun. The Lake was a hub activity with kids and adults alike diving into the freshwater lake having a whale of a time. And although they looked like they were having the time of their lives… we weren’t quite ready to take the plunge just yet!

All this walking made us a little parched, so we headed to the Champagne Garden for a beverage or two. Things were not as they seemed and we were not disappointed. We entered a domed tent with several rooms coming off the central bar area, all uniquely decorated with their own style but with surrealist inspiration running throughout. Halls of mirrors, melting clocks, ladies with lampshades on their heads and Daliesque bartenders all awaited us. The nonsensical and fun came to life and we were overjoyed to be along for the ride! So were so many others with the Garden seeming THE place to be from the crowds that gathered and filled the rooms! With the sun high in the sky and a glorious summer’s day, we opted for a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rich which fit the occasion perfectly.

Onward to the Chef’s Banquet where the food was to die for and we were seated on long banqueting tables with many others. It was an absolute spectacle! The food was sublime, and the drink was flowing, the atmosphere was incredible and the mariachi band, hilarious. We let go of all of our inhibitions and made new acquaintances, all with the same mindset as each other; to embrace the experience!

The Night Market was the place to be after sunset, with all types of music and entertainment to choose from but we simply loved the chilled atmosphere and surreal nature of the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Garden, so we ended up heading back there for a glass or two of Veuve Clicquot Rosé.

2 more days of fun and laughter followed with highlights such as taking a trip to the spa where we relaxed in the lakeside hot tub with a glass of Champagne in hand (naturally) and took the plunge into the freshwater lake (only long enough for a quick photo though… it was freezing!!) Justice and Nile Rogers headlined on the Friday and Saturday nights on the main stage and really got the crowds going.  We visited one of the many make up boutiques on Friday night to get ‘glittered up’ and festival ready and ended the night gorging on tea and crumpets on the way back to the tent. The Wilderness cricket match on the Saturday and Sunday is a must visit – cricket like you have never seen it before, where the players forget the cricket whites and get their glittery pants on! I have to say though the event that seemed to draw the biggest crowd was hip hop karaoke on the Saturday afternoon, it was absolutely superb!!

The headlining acts on the music stages were outstanding but this festival is about so much more than the live music. It’s a festival about getting involved in things you wouldn’t normally, expressing yourself, embracing the obscure and escaping reality. We didn’t experience all that was on offer from the through the night shenanigans in The Valley to the parades and acrobatics at the other venues on site. We certainly had the most fabulous taster of Wilderness and we are definitely up for discovering it all over again next year…. Glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label anyone?