Wilderness Festival 2019

The incandescent Wilderness Festival blazes in for a ninth season with a fresh and progressive multi-arts programme, rich with six vibrant new venues and electrifying new promoters.

This soul-nourishing paradise is hidden deep in a nature reserve. Flamboyant, scene-leading and laughter-laden. Life-enhancing and decadently surreal. It’s a dose of high art playtime with a side of low-down dirty dancefloor hijinx. All with a good chance of streakers. 

After yet another sold-out year, you are invited to let the wilderness in. Explore a community where genres are redefined, identity is turned on its head and arts from across the spectrum sit side by side. London’s most respected institutions bring bespoke works to the sellout show: The Royal Academy of Arts, Southbank Centre, The Roundhouse and The RSA.

The glorious Main Stage is an eclectic beast and the setting for some of the world’s greatest artists. Home to the legendary and the leftfield – and supported by BBC Sounds – headliners this year include: the Brit and Grammy nominated seismic Swedish starlet Robyn (UK festival exclusive), Bombay Bicycle Club (UK festival exclusive) who return to performing after a four-year hiatus, and the mighty dance duo Groove Armada who bring their legendary and spectacular live show to the Main Stage after their monumental performance in The Valley last year. 

Bringing disco-house and electronica to this diverse range of heavyweight headliners is the singular and soulful George Fitzgerald. After a stunning year in which he headlined The Valley and released his third album, the crossover smash ‘All That Must Be’, he returns to play the Main Stage before Robyn. Next up is English singer-songwriter Tom Odell – who returns after a surprise appearance at last year’s Letters Live. The French-electro swing band Caravan Palace also make a comeback, alongside Icelandic composer and multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds, bold vocalist Tom Grennan and the super-soulful singer Freya Ridings.

The Atrium is the flagship stage where high arts, music and participatory threads collide – supported by Time Out. The pioneering likes of Ronnie Scott’s, Sadler’s Wells and Rambert2 join Hip Hop Karaoke, Mass Yoga and The Dance Off Crew. On Thursday night at The Atrium, Jazz re:freshed host a jazz takeover, celebrating the newly confident and abundant UK jazz scene. They bring key figures – such as the Tenderlonious led quartet Ruby Rushton and production duo Project Karnak – alongside the aforementioned Steam Down. Jazz re:freshed were the musicians who popped up for a surprise jam with Kamasi Washington after his Wilderness show last year. 

The beating heart of Wilderness comes alive after sundown. This year, impeccable Chicago impresario Honey Dijon brings her dexterous manoeuvres straight from the city of underground house music to headline The Valley. She is joined by dance music titan: the incomparable Erol Alkan who has many guises; DJ, remixer, label founder, club promoter, radio host, long-standing Bugged Out resident and founder of the iconic London party, ‘Trash’. Sunday is presided over by Bristol’s bass-happy party-starter – the genre-blending Eats Everything – who plays all night long, with risqué promoters Little Gay Brother hosting the party. Also billed is reigning Queen supreme and London DJ icon Jodie Harsh.

Wilderness is proud to present four brand new music stages this year – The High Ground, The Level, The Jumpyard and The Troubadour. 

The High Ground is a new after-dark dance space dedicated to cutting-edge electronic music and the art of the DJ. Welcoming the excellent crowdfunded Tottenham club The Cause at the helm on Friday and Saturday, the independent venue and secret party crew team up with progressive London promoters, Adonis & Tribes, across two nights of dancefloor antics featuring Hannah Holland, Grace, Shay, Voigtmann, Cromby and Dom Chung amongst others. The full late night line-up is to be announced. 

The Level is a brand new venue devoted to artistic excellence, innovation and new directions in music from around the globe. The programme at The Level showcases artists who are defining the current trends rather than following them. Headliners are Ata Kak from the cult label Awesome Tapes from Africa & Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra. He played in Fela Kuti’s band Egypt 80, and is said to possess “the most fluent Afrobeat you’re going to hear today” (Max Reinhardt). Other highlights include the unstoppable Steam Down: the artist collective, weekly event and music community based in Deptford, Beating Heart – the ensemble who invited musicians, artists and producers to remix the world’s largest single collection of vintage African recordings, a special takeover from On The Corner – Winner of the Worldwide Awards label of the year 2018 – and Otim Alpha & Kampire from Ugandan label Nyege Nyege Tapes. 

The Jumpyard comes direct from Shangri-La (Glastonbury’s infamous after-hours area) creator, Chris Tofu and Continental Drifts. Think jump-up, heavy brass ‘n’ bass, funk and reggae, an explosive stomping ground headed up by the rinsing Dutty Moonshine Big Band. Jalapeno Records present Smoove & Turrell and Izo FitzRoy, Badcore Horns bring the noise, 6-piece funk-breaks Daytoner return and more. From the creators of The Carousel, this is the ultimate feel-good dancefloor with sunshine reggae, swing, bass and brass wildness.

The Troubadour is the place to be blown away by up-and-coming artists and established greats performing acoustic works. Take your shoes off, cosy up and find the next Nick Mulvey. Music and dance workshops by day. Shindigs, hoedowns and new music discovery by night courtesy of four promoters with big credentials: Woodburner, Fire In The Mountain, Under The Apple Tree and Front Room Songs.

Wilderness are also renowned for their unconventional and unorthodox programming and every year features a series of Wilderness Firsts. 

Specially commissioned pieces, festival-devised works, UK exclusives, leftfield collaborations and in-house-produced events. This year, the festival has commissioned a live performance of the cult album ‘Synthesizing: Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat’ by Charanjit Singh which was produced in 1982 using a Roland 303. The album pre-dated acid house by 4 years and has been lauded as the first of the genre. Danalogue – one member of the cosmic, Mercury-nominated trio The Comet is Coming – will perform the album in its entirety. Strictly Come Wilderness is a weekend long, wild-style dance-off commissioned by Wilderness – it’s a Strictly-style competition hosted by the infamous Dance Off Crew where ballroom meets breaks and the panel must decide. Rambert2 is the new outpost of Rambert featuring young dancers between 18-25. Their Wilderness performance will be their first ever festival show. Killer Pig revives Sharon Eyal’s pulsating, uncompromisingly physical piece. 

The Sunday Night Finale sees the return of the Wilderness-devised ‘God’s Jukebox’ – which just one year old, has become part of the fabric of the show. The audience request the songs that have backtracked the most monumental moments in their life, which are arranged by the festival’s own 47-piece symphony orchestra to be performed with guest vocalists. The mass participation at The Atrium is infamous. On the cards this year: The World’s Largest Spooning Cuddle (Guinness World Record Attempt),  Mass Meditation with Michael J Wong and a Giant Bollywood Workshop. 

Discover your divine at The House of Sublime – the brand new venue channelling the flamboyant, celebrating transformation, self expression and gender politic. The programme is topped with the triumphant return of Alternative Miss Wilderness. The ever-progressive Southbank Centre will be bringing a panel from their summer exhibition. Comedian, drag queen and linchpin of the LGBTQ+ community Jonny Woo brings his Big Gay Songbook – a weekly piano singalong from his indispensable watering hole in east London’s queer scene: The Glory. Threads and themes connect across site: from the pumping, celebratory dancefloor created by trans DJ Honey Dijon and Jodie Harsh in The Valley to Queer Life Drawing and ‘F**k Size’ modelling, theatrics from the Little Gay Brother crew in The Valley parallel Adonis London at The High Ground with House of Sublime Naked Balloon Party when you tire of the dancefloor.

The Hustle’s return for the third year, refined and redefined with a new area designed for your delectation: The Hustle Cocktail Garden. Season Nine at The Hustle will celebrate audiophilia and vinyl. The late night disco will be opening earlier, providing a daytime dancefloor with some exciting takeovers and extended sets. Last year Eats Everything and Waze & Odyssey popped by to spin. Business as ecstatically usual: trademark, sweat-drenched, late-night Hustle and Bustle up against the disco ball. 

As always, the experiences and workshops to be found in the nature reserve of Cornbury Park are world-class. From body and mind workshops in The Sanctuary with Frame, Hot Pod Yoga and Midnight Runners to Axe Throwing or Climbing on the dedicated new climbing wall. And of course, there’s the magical ancient woodland where one can bike, hike or horse ride. All topped off with our simply unmissable, sparkling lakes for boating and wild swimming.

Tickets from £179.50 + booking fee
Teens: £115.00 + booking fee Child: £5.00 + booking fee
www.wildernessfestival.com

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