Bjork older and wiser



Bjork delights at Wilderness

The sun shone on the colourful Wild Ones as Wilderness Festival settled into its Friday stride. Sequins and sailors, sea-faring, striped beauties and pirates roamed the Wilderness, enjoying an effervescence of glorious lake swimming, musing and sipping cocktails, captivating debates, champagne flutes and feathers in the Laurent-Perrier Orangery, Michelin-starred banquets, cooking and art classes, immersive theatre, global musicians.

Friday headliner Bjork sparked an electrical excitement in the crowd as the Wild Ones awaited the lady of the hour, who appeared resplendent in a red Markus Wernitznig dress and mask by JT Merry. Her set opened in a flourish of dazzling fireworks for ‘Notget’, before continuing along a kaleidoscopic journey for the final celebration of her spectacular tour, a very special ‘Vulnicura’ festival finale, peppered with classic moments including ‘Hunter’, ‘Army of Me’ and ‘Hyperballad’ that culminated with the explosive ‘Mouth Mantra’, followed by ‘Mutual Core’, and closing with the epic ‘One Day’.

Scott Hallsworth and Angela Hartnett were the gastronomic highlights for Day one at Wilderness, with Scott hosting an intimate Chef’s Table for 20 diners overlooking the lake, and Wilderness favourite Angela Hartnett hosted a Sicilian-inspired Banquet beneath the ‘gulp’ of wire swallows by artist Celia Smith.

The Sanctuary ‘ a hotbed of across-the-board wellbeing ‘ hosted kids, pregnancy and shamanic yoga, workshops including massage and evening meditation. And the Lakeside Spa provided an opportunity for a serene escape and proved an ever-popular destination.

Noteworthy talks and debates at the Secret Forum included the topical and pithy, including Poaching Exposed in the Explorer Camp. The Southbank Centre hosted a down-to-earth debate on Being A Man with a panel that included ex-Loaded editor, Dr of Psychology and expert of sexual abuse. Dom Joly was another highlight, discussing his life since Trigger Happy ‘ some highs and some toe-curlingly embarrassing lows.

The main stage was opened by the divine Lapsley, before Las Vegas club kid Shamir brought the beats and ushered in a tongue-in-cheek humour with his quirky pop, and Benjamin Clementine, hotly tipped ex-busker from the streets of Paris, moved an emotional crowd. Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble brought their classical brand of techno, segueing perfectly into the hypnotic global techno from Crosstown Rebels king Damien Lazarus and The Ancient Moons. Asgeir ‘ the overnight sensation who broke records to become Iceland’s fastest selling artist with his ‘Dyrd I daudathogn’ ‘ began the Icelandic theme ahead of Bjork’s stunning performance, and Nils Frahm was captivating, his commitment to improvisation making for utter, unrepeatable magic.

After hours, the Valley was presided over by New York disco doyenne Kim Ann Foxman ‘ who took it tough with her upfront dance jams ‘ and Francesca Lombardo who wove her wistful, dreamy magic across the valley. Mermaids flicked their air, sailors doffed their hats, and Wilderness’s sequins sparkled. There was a special guest appearance from mysterious act the Flying Sorcerer, and at the Wilderness Stage, all male dance troupe 2Faced Dance gave a dynamic performance, Rambert presented Finding Freedom a powerful piece that was perfect in the natural amphitheatre, and virtuoso violinist Diana Yukawa added to the drama.

The Grand Spiegel ‘ a brand new area at Wilderness, devoted to sensory overload. With utterly unique and hugely broad programming, Friday’s highlights were topped off by show-stealers The Tiger Lillies played their first festival set in a decade, alt-legends who conjured a macabre magic. The Lost Picture Show by Picturehouse Cinemas provided a decadent and gorgeously sumptuous velvet haven where it’s easy to forget you are at a festival, with film screenings, workshops and cocktails, including Jungle Book, Make Your Own Zoetrope and Cinema Shorts. Honeyfeet were the undoubted stars of The Travelling Folk Barn, so-called ‘apple pie for the soul’, elevated by the vocal prowess of frontwoman Ríoghnach Connolly.

Voodoo Love Orchestra kicked off The Carousel party with their big band sound of ’60s Latin America, programmed by Shangri-La and Continental Drifts main man Chris Tofu. Other highlights included the wine tasting masterclass with Berry Brothers & Rudd Wine School and the sold-out Wilderness Cookery School with Daylesford.